cover image Shine a Light

Shine a Light

Rebecca Crowley. Tule, $3.99 e-book (232p) ASIN B097QD549C

Despite a predictable premise where two directors must come together to pull off a community production for the holidays, the first Orchard Hill romance from Crowley (Off the Record) manages to feel fresh with its focus on Reform Judaism and community. When aspiring actor Ellie Bloom returns to her hometown of Orchard Hill, Mo., to stay with her sister after accidentally setting fire to her St. Louis apartment, she’s not looking to set down roots. She’s finally saved enough to move to Hollywood, leaving painful memories of her mother’s premature death behind her, and hopes to make her dream a reality soon. Still, she can’t say no when her nephews beg her to direct their temple’s Hanukkah play, not realizing that she won’t be the only director. Firefighter Jonah Spellman hopes directing the play will prove to his rabbi father that, despite dropping out of seminary, he remains committed to his family and his faith. Neither Ellie nor Jonah can help their mutual attraction, and despite Ellie’s plans to leave town, a sweet romance blooms between them as they merge directing styles and the play comes together. Crowley has a light, compassionate touch with both the central couple and Orchard Hill’s broader community, both Jewish and not. Readers will find plenty to enjoy here. (Dec.)