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HaBO: There’s Only One Rental Car Left

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This HaBO request is from Tee, who’s searching for a holiday romance:

So this was my first romance, stolen from my mother. It was a Harlequin about a woman and a man both going home for Christmas, but when they get to the airport, the weather is so bad that the flight is cancelled. It’s a couple days before Christmas and there is a blizzard. They both race to the rental car counter but surprise! There is only one car left and they agree to share and that he’ll drop her off. I think it’s set in the Midwest, but it’s definitely the United States.

They both have some important reasons to be home, but I can’t remember any of them.

Anywho, they both stay in motels and drive through the night(s) while getting to know each other. At one point, they are very glad to see a McDonald’s which they identify by its ‘signature golden arches’. They also do the frickfrack in one of the motels.

I can’t remember how it ends, but I think they meet up after Christmas.

Sound familiar to anyone?


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  1. 1
    Veronica says:

    I think it’s Let it Snow. Debbie Macomber wrote it.

  2. 2
    Kam says:

    Could it be Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber?

  3. 3
    Ainsley says:

    This literally happened in one of those Hallmark Xmas movies with the Full House actress—frightening that I have this knowledge and am sharing it with others.

  4. 4

    I haven’t read Dashing Through the Snow, but it was made into a Hallmark Channel movie starring Megan Ory, the actress who played Ruby/Red Riding Hood from Once Upon A Time, which is a completely different Hallmark Channel Movie from the one Ainsley mentioned (that one with Candace Cameron Bure was 10x better, though). The plot description sounds identical, so I agree with Kam that this is probably the book.

    Debbie Macomber used that trope twice, although the other time she did it in Trading Christmas the heroine ends up with actors playing Santa and his elves and shows up at her friend’s house to find that a handsome man, who hates Christmas, is there instead of her friend. (This was also made into a Hallmark Channel Movie, but the novella was so much better–mostly because the casting was bad. I typically like Tom Cavanagh, especially as Harrison Wells on The Flash, I don’t think he was right for the role of Charles, the curmudgeonly professor.)

  5. 5
    Amelia says:

    This DEFINITELY happened in at least 7 Hallmark movies but THE BEST version of this plot is in PLAYING GAMES by Meg Maguire. It’s tropey as hell (enemies to lovers, best friend’s girl, last room at the inn/honeymoon suite, fireman…) while simultaneously managing to side-step triteness. I don’t remember McDonalds but there was a spider in a gross motel jacuzzi.

  6. 6
    LauraL says:

    @ Ainsley – the movie is “A Christmas Detour” from a couple of years ago. I may have seen it once or twice.

    I agree it sounds like Debbie Macomber’s Let it Snow, but it’s not a Harlequin.

  7. 7
    Jill Q. says:

    Can I just say, I’m loving everyone’s Hallmark Christmas movie knowledge coming out. 😉

    I actually like the non Christmas-y ones too, but this is the time of year I feel like it’s okay to talk about them.

    I don’t like them all the time, but when I’m in the mood for one, they’re just right.

  8. 8
    NT says:

    Just so there’s no confusion–there are two Debbie Macomber stories with this plot (and that’s not counting Trading Christmas, which is slightly different).

    “Let It Snow” was a novella in a Silhouette Christmas collection from 1986. Harlequin later published it in a stand-alone volume, so if it is that story, it’s possible the OP read that version.

    Snowbound after a blizzard delayed their flight home for the holidays, Shelly soon found that meeting Slade Garner changed the course of her life. With a smile Slade was able to make her heart soar — and she hoped the trip would never end.
    (That doesn’t mention the rental car or road trip, but several of the reviews do.)

    30 years later she wrote “Dashing Through the Snow,” which was turned in to the Hallmark movie with Meghan Ory (the same year Hallmark did the movie with Candice Cameron…so evidently they liked the plot as much as Macomber did).

    Ashley Davison, a graduate student in California, desperately wants to spend the holidays with her family in Seattle. Dashiell Sutherland, a former army intelligence officer, has a job interview in Seattle and must arrive by December 23. Though frantic to book a last-minute flight out of San Francisco, both are out of luck: Every flight is full, and there’s only one rental car available. Ashley and Dash reluctantly decide to share the car, but neither anticipates the wild ride ahead.

    At first they drive in silence, but forced into close quarters Ashley and Dash can’t help but open up. Not only do they find they have a lot in common, but there’s even a spark of romance in the air. Their feelings catch them off guard — never before has either been so excited about a first meeting. But the two are in for more twists and turns along the way as they rescue a lost puppy, run into petty thieves, and even get caught up in a case of mistaken identity. Though Ashley and Dash may never reach Seattle in time for Christmas, the season is still full of surprises — and their greatest wishes may yet come true.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Tee says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s Let it Snow by Debbie Macomber because I don’t remember the FBI plot people are mentioning in Dashing Through the Snow. Thank you!

  11. 11
    Amelia says:

    My favorite part of every Hallmark xmas movie is when they try to subtly sneak in a heavy handed product placement for some mass-produced piece of crap you can buy at a hallmark store. No adult human should get that worked up about a tree ornament that says ‘Made In China’ on the bottom.

    Also, I get that the Hallmark Channel brand is largely built around puritanical regressive BS (women should all work with children or bake, when will that professional woman in the harsh business suit learn that the meaning of christmas is that she should give up her career? Is she seriously quitting her job for that dude she’s never had sex with?!) but it seriously blows my mind every year that they haven’t figured out that people of color celebrate christmas. Also, Where are the Chanukah movies? Does Hallmark know that they sell dreidels?

  12. 12
    Carole says:

    Clearly a popular trope. If the story was steamier then could it be one of two Blaze Stories: I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Leslie Kelly in 3 Holiday Stories Nov 01, 2013 called A Soldier’s Christmas.

    Same concept in another Blaze Christmas Anthology called Wild Holiday Nights dated November 18th 2014. The story is called PLAYING GAMES by Meg Maguire – With her plane grounded on Christmas Eve, Carrie Baxter agrees to share a rental car with her secret high school crush…

  13. 13

    @Amelia, there have been a few Hallmark movies recently with heroines who don’t fit the stereotypical female roles. I particularly liked Pumpkin Pie Wars in which the heroine had an MBA and helped the hero develop a business plan for the restaurant he wanted to open. There was baking, but it involved the hero teaching her how to bake for a pie contest that their mothers always entered. The Mistletoe Promise was also fairly decent and featured a business owner heroine, played by Jaime King from Hart of Dixie. Jen Liley from General Hospital and Days of Our Lives has played a doctor, veterinarian, and chef in three different movies this year.

    I do agree that they need to add more POC, LGBT+ characters, and non-Christians, all of whom celebrate holidays that may or may not take place in December.

  14. 14
    denise says:

    Not sure it’s a Debbie Macomber: though hers fit the trope, her books don’t usually have characters having sex.

    Hallmark-produced movies never have sex between unmarrieds. It’s a rule.

    It’s a popular trope. I read a similar one recently from Sourcebooks Casablanca–can’t remember the author, but it was when they were sending stories serially through a daily newsletter over the course of 2-3 weeks, then they’d move on to a new book. I read several books this way till they discontinued it. Though the Sourcebooks was a little different–she was flying home for her sister’s wedding with a godawful peach dress, and he was flying for an interview. The car rental stuff all happened in Texas, though their flight was supposed to go from NYC to PNW.

  15. 15
    LauraL says:

    @ Amelia – and don’t forget the cup of Folger’s coffee passed with a wise look from a friend, mama, or grandmama! I noticed this year Balsam Hill, purveyors of high-end holiday decorations, is getting a lot of play.

    Personally, I feel there are more POC, and in bigger roles, in the Hallmark movies as time moves on. But it is “Countdown to Christmas” so it may be a while before another winter holiday is celebrated. Maybe on one of the other Hallmark channels?

  16. 16
    Darbi says:

    So, I’m like 90% sure this book is The Bridesmaid by Julia London. Here’s the description from Amazon:

    “Kate Preston has just moved to New York. Joe Firretti is contemplating a move to Seattle. When the weather wreaks havoc with transportation systems, Kate and Joe meet as they are both trying to rent the last car available… As Kate races to make her best friend’s wedding, and Joe races to a life-altering job interview, it looks like together is the only way they’ll make it at all.”

    Its a novella in Julia London’s One Mad Night anthology.

  17. 17
    Emily A says:

    Yes it sounds exactly like Julia London’s The Bridesmaid. I read this one. In Print. As a Standalone. (It was printed separately apart from the anthology, so if the reader doesn’t remember it as a part of anthology it was printed separately.
    Here is my review from this site. The cover matches the standalone cover I got in the standalone print addition.

  18. 18
    Tee says:

    So some information that never made it in which makes me think it’s probably Let It Snow:

    It was about 2004 which eliminates most of the more recent ones!
    I was very young, which makes it a bit harder.
    It was definitely not in an anthology.

  19. 19
    denise says:

    @Darbi, that’s the book I was talking about, but it was her sister’s wedding when I read it.

  20. 20
    Darbi says:

    @denise so funny, I could have sworn it was her cousin and not best friend when I read it 😉 . I’m glad you mentioned it because I thought I was going very specifically crazy. Either way the bride is someone she’s close to!

  21. 21
    Sarah says:

    I immediately thought of Winter Renshaw’s “Priceless” which is the third book in the Amato Brothers series. I didn’t like it as much as the first two books so I didn’t end up finishing it. I’m not sure if they stop at McDonalds, but they do meet in an airport, get stuck in the last hotel room together and then share a car cross country. It’s a newer book so maybe not the one you’re thinking of.

  22. 22
    MMVZ says:

    Wow! both HaBO solved this week, and quickly too.
    With wonderful extra suggestions.

  23. 23
    Emily A says:

    @Denise @Darbi
    It’s definitely her cousin’s wedding. She has a sister too, but it’s her cousin whose getting married.

  24. 24
    rm2h says:

    Does anyone know the name of the anthology which Let it Snow is in?

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