I never really considered small-town love stories to be their own genre, but when As Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr (in stores June 7) came my way, it definitely made a case for it that I couldn’t deny. Hallmark movies, after all, are money-making vehicles that are produced year-round (not just around the holidays!) that I have been sucked into more than once. They’re cheesy, sure, but you know exactly what you’re going to get and that predictability is comforting. And seeing that this story was going to be an antithesis to that small-town charm? I wanted to see where it would go.
Emerging journalist Adina Gellar is done with dating in New York City. If she’s learned anything from made-for-TV romance movies, it’s that she’ll find love in a small town—the kind with harvest festivals, delightful but quirky characters, and scores of delectable single dudes. So when a big-city real estate magnate targets tiny Pleasant Hollow for development, Adi knows she’s found the perfect story—one that will earn her a position at a coveted online magazine, so she can finally start adulting for real…and maybe even find her dream man in the process.
Only Pleasant Hollow isn’t exactly “pleasant.” There’s no charming bakery, no quaint seasonal festivals, and the residents are more ambivalent than welcoming. The only upside is Finn Adams, who’s more mouthwatering than the homemade cherry pie Adi can’t seem to find—even if he does work for the company she’d hoped to bring down. Suddenly Adi has to wonder if maybe TV got it all wrong after all. But will following her heart mean losing her chance to break into the big time?
Billed as a sort of anti-Hallmark story, As Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr was meant to show that romance is not always sunshine and rainbows and cute misunderstandings like it seems on TV. And though this story portrayed a side of Adina and Finn’s love story that a Hallmark movie wouldn’t have, all the marks of made-for-television special were still there—falling in love in a matter of days, strange career developments and, spoiler alert, a happily ever after.
I powered through this book in a matter of mere hours because the plot did some twisty things that I found interested and because Schorr is a really good writer, but I had a really hard time getting past Adina’s immaturity. It could be because I know the industry well, but she’s 25 and claims to be a budding journalist, but she’s never really written a true reported story before (it seems) and when her pitch didn’t end up matching what she wanted, she tried to create the story she wanted, which is not the mark of someone who actually wants to follow the story and be a journalist. She also lives in New York City, she didn’t have to have her whole career balance on one digital publication—there are literally hundreds (thousands?) that she could be pitching at all times. I work in the magazine industry and though at 25 I hadn’t had a meteoric rise or anything, I was already on my third promotion, comfortably in the middle of a masthead, and not still learning how to do the basics of my job. This story would have been more believable for me if she were closer to 21—but then I know the love story wouldn’t have worked as well. The epilogue was a little bit cheesy and unnecessary, I thought, but I also know someone who has had that exact experience, and I know it went nothing like that. (Vague, but trying to stay spoiler-free.)
Despite Adina’s flaws, I did enjoy her relationship with Finn, her mother, and even her best friend Kate, even though she was also going a little bit overboard to find Adina a boyfriend. As I mentioned, there were some little twists that I didn’t see coming that fleshed out the story nicely and that kept me reading. There was a comparison to Gilmore Girls in the blurb that I think is overpromising something, but if you like Hallmark-type romances and are looking for a well-written story about people falling in love, there’s definitely something in this for you.
“It was probably a silly fantasy, but this trip could change everything.” —Meredith Schorr, As Seen on TV
Thank you to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the advanced copy, and to Monica Bourgeau on Unsplash for the featured photo.