Historically, I have not been the biggest fan of the natural parks romance movies on Hallmark. It’s not that I don’t get the allure, but they just haven’t spoken to me. They’ve kinda left me “meh” and wondering why they are there.
But this one, I did love. Maybe it was my ties to The Vampire Diaries universe and my unconditional love for all of the actors there. That could be argued and I don’t think that it would be a completely wrong statement. But maybe it’s because it’s a story that I can and do relate to.
A story that I wanted to see.
Arielle Kebbel and Zach Roerig – well, I have watched them “grow up” in a way on the screen. The Vampire Diaries universe has been a big part of my life. So, I can’t tell you that I would ever hate their acting, because I don’t. What I can tell you is that there have been projects that they have acted in that I have not loved.
But this one, a story of betrayal and love that never died – well, that I can get behind. I can get behind it because it’s a story that feels relatable. It’s a story of remembering the good in what was. It’s a story of remembering what love is and why it has touched you as a person and made you who you are.
And I think that is something that we can all relate to.
Hallmark’s National Park Romances have the best of intentions and they do have heart. They aim to teach you something while giving you the romances that you watch Hallmark for. And while we do learn with all of these movies, I wish it felt like a stronger and more natural thing. I wish they combined it into their stories in a way that we could really get into and it didn’t feel like a lesson from a substitute teacher.
And while I will always watch these movies and want to learn from them, as well as feel from them, I will hope that somehow we make these stories better.
Because these are stories that need to be told – the lessons that they are giving us about these parks, the history, and things that we all need to be aware of in order to never have these things happen again.
It’s About This: Former high school sweethearts, Haley (Kebbel) and Rob (Roerig), bump into each other while at an excavation site for an archeological research team, currently in the field at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Rob immediately tries to reconnect with Haley and rekindle their romance, but Haley isn’t quite over Rob’s betrayal. During their senior year, Haley had applied for a research grant that was awarded to Rob instead of her. The two have not spoken since, but now Haley is determined to remain professional as she and Rob work together at this exciting excavation site.
The two eventually reconnect over their common love of nature and history, spending time together exploring the park. But when Haley finds pictographs in a cave that may lead to the existence of a mythical Cherokee diamond, Rob struggles to keep up with her adventurous nature. And to complicate their relationship even more, they discover they are once again competing for the same research grant. They work together and finally find the cave, and slowly realize that the journey is perhaps more important than the destination – and love is more valuable than any research grant.
It’s Giving: Forgiveness and never writing off someone for the mistakes they’ve made. Instead you should embrace forgiveness.
It’s definitely giving second chance vibes.
Standout Performance: Zach Roerig. There was something about his charm and vulnerability. He just made us fall into his smile and made us want to crawl into his hugs. He was just too adorable, too sexy, and we would have fallen for him.
Overall Not So/Way Too Deep Thoughts:
See, the National Park Romances are love stories with lessons. While they have the greatest of intentions, they fall short. For instance, with this one, we are learning about the Cherokee’s and then the secondary characters are the Cherokee characters. Where as I do love that the Cherokee’s lessons were not taught by Arielle and Zach’s characters. I appreciate that.
What I did love is that Hallmark didn’t shy away from the bad stuff in history. They did address some of the horrible things that were done to the Cherokee people. They made sure that they touched upon things.
Do I feel they could have done more? Yes. I do appreciate the fact that they did open the door for people to learn something and want to learn more. I will say that the lessons that weren’t subtle, but that is not a bad thing.
Rob and Haley were in love. They were so in love, but Rob lied to her and applied for the same grant she did. He got the grant and it wasn’t that he got the grant that upset her. We would think that. But it was the fact that he lied to her and never fought for her.
So seeing him was a surprise. It was an even bigger surprise to her that he was on the dig that she went on. There was instant tension, but it was a mix of love and hate. However, it wasn’t their romantic story – them overcoming their past in order to move forward that first got me.
It was the fact that Hayley was this strong character – this character that was fierce and independent. She was going to do whatever it took to make her dreams come true. She is driven by making sure that she followed her heart and made her dreams come true.
I think that it’s important that we see female characters that are strong and independent. We should be able to see female characters that can both be driven and accomplishing things, as well as allowing love into their lives.