Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Reel Christmas in Romance, by J.J. DiBenedetto

Writing Dreams, November 2018

Marianne Carter owns the only movie theater in the town of Romance, the Esmeralda Theater, and like her father and grandfather before her, shows only classic movies--nothing after 1955. It's a labor of love, as well as her business.

Jack Nelson is with the state historical commission, sent to evaluate the theater and Marianne's application to have it designated an historic landmark. He has to do this without Marianne knowing, or becoming too friendly with her, because he has to not only be objective, but be seen to be objective.

The Duck Man is Marianne's anonymous email pen pal, new in town and a little general about exactly what he does, but a delight to chat with in email. She, also, remains anonymous.

Esme is Jack's anonymous email pen pal. She's a pleasure to converse with in email, and, since it's clear she works at the Esmerelda, a useful contact. Right? Jack, too, remains anonymous.

Any fan of old movies with recognize a new reworking of the endlessly satisfying, fun, romantic plot of The Shop Around the Corner. (Or In the Good Old Summertime, or She Loves Me, or You've Got Mail. Yes, I've enjoyed all of them. More than once.)

DiBenedetto does a good job with it. Jack and Marianne are both likable, solid characters, and this story is true to the source without following it slavishly. It's just a lot of fun.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from--someone. Probably the author. There have been a lot of distractions around here lately, and I enjoyed the book without worrying about extraneous details. In any case, I'm reviewing it voluntarily.