Autumn Topping | Nov 8, 2017 | 2
Love Finds You In Valentine (2016): Discovering Heart and Home In Rural Nebraska
In 2008, Summerside Press launched The Love Finds You book series. The aim of the imprint was to give readers a tempting glance into life across rural America. Love Finds You In Valentine is based on the novel by Irene Brand and is one of 60 published works with settings in a real, rural American town.
Love Finds You In Valentine completes UP TV’s “Love Finds You In” trilogy.
Looks Like I’m Going To Valentine
Love Finds You In Valentine introduces us to Kennedy Blaine (Michaela McManus), a big city girl who has her life all mapped out. Studying to take her Bar exam, the last thing she has time for is the sale of her family ranch in Valentine, Nebraska. However, her father left a stipulation in his will that before the sale of the ranch can be completed, Kennedy must return to the family home she’d only heard about, but never visited.
My dad was born on that ranch, grew up there, met my mother, they fell in love.
Reluctant, but ultimately wanting to honour her father’s final wish, she returns to Valentine, hoping to sign a few papers and be back in the city within a few days. But we know how these stories usually pan out. Of course, our heroine is going to find numerous reasons to stick around on a beautiful ranch. In the case of Love Finds You In Valentine, that reason comes in the lithe form of the Circle Cross Ranch Foreman, Derek Stirling (Diogo Morado).
RELATED: Love Finds You In Sugarcreek (2014): An Uplifting, Faith-Based Romance About Trust And The Power Of First Impressions
Kennedy is instantly on the back foot as Derek makes his disdain for her disinterest in her family’s legacy apparent. Conversely, Kennedy finds his quick to judgment attitude offensive and upsetting. Like the start of any good romance, I’m sure you can already tell where this is heading. Derek barks and Kennedy barks right back.
But the sexy foreman isn’t the only thorn in Kennedy’s side. Her pride filled, crotchety old coot of a grandfather is still alive and harbours a couple centuries worth of bitterness towards Kennedy’s deceased parents. Unfortunately, they had fallen in love and eloped against the old man’s express wishes. Seeking out the grandfather she never met, Kennedy begins to discover strong ties that bind her to Valentine.
However, there are mysterious outside forces pressurizing her to sell The Circle Cross Ranch and return to her life in the city. In Love Finds You In Valentine, Kennedy must reevaluate the life she always thought she wanted. Will she choose the bright city lights? Or will she embrace a different kind of life on the land her parents loved, but were forced to forsake?
Seems Silly To Come All This Way And Not Have A Look
Love Finds You In Valentine is my favourite in the Love Finds You In Trilogy. While I love a good Amish romance a la Love Finds You In Charm, there is something about a sexy cowboy and the range that gets me every time. While I cannot claim that Love Finds You In Valentine offers anything particularly novel in its presentation, the story is engaging and the setting quite breathtaking.
Michaela McManus, a One Tree Hill alum, is well cast as the city girl discovering her roots. Kennedy is no push over and gives as good as she gets. She’s also got great chemistry with The Sexy Rancher. Within two seconds of meeting each other, he tries to run her off her own property and she calls him a squatter. I’ve just about settled into my seat to get comfortable. I’m lapping it up with a teaspoon.
You were right the other day. We come from different worlds, and the life we have now can’t be further apart, but they led us here, now. All those things you said that drive us apart are the same things that brought us together.
However its trading barbs in her scenes with her grandfather Gabriel Morgan (Edward Asner), where she really shines. In addition, Asner and McManus manage to mine a few emotional beats from an otherwise run of the mill romance.
Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado has an interesting résumé. The dark haired hunk has made a name for himself playing Jesus in biblical projects for both Fox and the History Channel. An interesting role to be type-cast in. In Love Finds You In Valentine, however, there is nothing divine about Derek (unless we were talking strictly about his aesthetic appeal). Derek Stirling has a shady past of his own which endangers his life, The Circle Cross and by extension, Kennedy. Morgado expertly channels the gruff bad boy with a tough exterior, as well as the reformed troublemaker with a heart of gold.
Lindsay Wagner, a veritable TV movie goddess from the ’90’s, also stars as June Stirling, Derek’s mother and co-caretaker of the Circle Cross Ranch.
It Takes More Than A Piece Of Paper To Belong To A Place
Love Finds You In Valentine is… well, it’s charming. The acting is appealing, the story, while not particularly original, is engaging and the cinematography is beautiful. I hate love triangles and as is the case with films within this genre, Love Finds You In Valentine is not exempt. Thankfully we are not tortured to death with a cardboard cutout and generally personality-less boyfriend. Against The Sexy Rancher, he never really stood a chance.
Also, watch out for some dodgy action sequences. I don’t think the budget catered for making them particularly realistic. Despite that, Love Finds You In Valentine won’t disappoint with its romance, uplifting narrative and moral worldview.
Love Finds You In Valentine broke a few records for UP TV in 2016, including the accolade of being the best-performing title in UP’s popular Love Finds You movie franchise.
Where to Watch: Love Finds You In Valentine can be purchased on Amazon.
Content Note: This film is unrated but is safe for family viewing.
Have you watched Love Finds You In Valentine? What did you think? Comment below and let me know!
Photo Credit: Mission Pictures International
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I have loved none but you.”