Anyone who likes the “keeping it in the family” vibe Hallmark goes for will adore this original. With Love, Christmas (previously titled Secretly Santa) stars Chesapeake Shores alum, Emilie Ullerup as an ad exec. As she keeps busy with her accounts, Melanie isn’t prepared for the job her boss tasks her with. For some reason, she’s never been able to get more of a “hello” out of her buttoned up colleague, Donovan Goodwin (Aaron O’Connell). This is why Melanie is so surprised when two things happen where Donovan sits at the center of.
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The first is she draws his name for their office secret Santa exchange – oh no!
Then her boss pairs them together to work on a major ad campaign, and things go from bad to worse – fast!
The more the unusual duo works together, the more Melanie discovers about Donovan. And all while trying to keep him from discovering the connection they do share.
With Love, Christmas (2017) Hallmark Review
Years ago I saw a TV movie about the Secret Santa idea starring Jennie Garth. I remember it being adorable, and not much else. Since then, I haven’t seen other films following those footsteps. Then With Love, Christmas came along. With its enthusiastic heroine and cheerful holiday settings, this one has no shortage of cheer.
At the surface, this has a kind of Scrooge like element to its plot. Donovan isn’t the easiest character to like. He’s kind of impersonal (and clueless) with people, and is all business. It becomes Melanie’s goals to try and get him to open up and to, ultimately, change his mind about Christmas. All of which is well and good (and works well for this story).
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Look deeper and you discover there are some Pride & Prejudice feels hidden in this script. First there’s the uptight hero who barely gives the lady the time of day. Then there is the old-fashion appeal of the script. In what seems to be a common trope (a term I use in endearment), this narrative includes a version of letter writing. For those of us who do love the romanticism of stories like Austen’s classics, this element is romantic-comedy storytelling gold.‘With Love, Christmas’: Secret Santa in the Style of Pride & Prejudice. See #ChesapeakeShores Emilie Ullerup in this 2017 romance. Click To Tweet
The cast pulls everything together as the kind of “final act” component that flawlessly binds the story together. Emilie has a girl-next-door quality that makes her perfect for this character, while Aaron pulls of a Darcy-esque brusque attitude with ease; not so unlike previous of his characters, one of which you may remember in 12 Gifts of Christmas. The appeal of opposites attract is an old story, but never one we tire of because it tends to open the possibility of entertaining chemistry.
As each do, this telefilm bears the hallmark of its network branding. A signature that assures the viewer a wholesome, quality story is at its heart. With Love, Christmas is all about keeping to this tradition. Pinned beneath the surface of this story is important lessons, and the cherry on top is the fairy tale of an ending. Plus, it’s all wrapped up in a pretty scene, complete with snowfall.
Photos: Hallmark / Crown Media Press