With over 170 million books in print, Debbie Macomber has proven that when it comes to romance stories, the word “romance” doesn’t have to equal “sleazy.” And she isn’t afraid to reveal to secular media why she writes cleaner stories than most: She’s an evangelical Christian.
That’s not to say some Christians won’t object to her storytelling. As a producer and writer for the new Hallmark Channel original series, it’s likely Macomber will include the occasional curse words and sexual situations of her books. But the show based on her Cedar Cove book series does reflect Macomber’s Christian worldview. As she puts it, these are “stories that make sense of life and that reflect the realities of [readers’] lives—the importance of love, family, community. Of belonging.”
At Cedar Cove’s center, Andie MacDowell plays Judge Olivia Lockhart, a sort of West Coast female Andy Griffith. Lockhart’s no-nonsense court demeanor is balanced by her motherly affection for those around her. And in the two-hour pilot that aired July 10 (now available on Amazon), she weighs the possibility of leaving for a federal judgeship in the big city. And why not? She could influence the world for good and fulfill her childhood dream. But as we meet the supporting characters who make up Cedar Cove, we realize with Lockhart the treasure she’d be leaving behind.
There’s love interest Jack (Dylan Neal), who hides a destructive secret behind immense charm and talent as a newspaper editor. Lockhart’s daughter, Justine (Sarah Smyth), is very close to her mother and provides a hook for younger viewers. And Lockhart’s irascible but loving mother provides comic relief, connects us with the town’s history, and pushes the plot along with her matchmaking skills.
While this world admittedly feels as pastel as a Thomas Kinkade painting, it’s also well-balanced, generally well-acted, and occasionally touching. With more “serious” shows continually pushing the bounds of television sex and violence, Macomber’s fans may find this trip to Cedar Cove a breath of fresh, salty sea air.