‘Kiss Her Once for Me’ offers an enticing Oregon holiday romance (book review)

Do yourself a favor: Ask Santa for Alison Cochrun’s classic English-language, hard-hitting LGBTQ+ rom-com, “Kiss Her Once For Me.” Whether you’ve been mean or nice, this book, which comes out Nov. 1, it can also make things look better. When all else fails, buy one for yourself. It makes for a very pleasant climate.

Cochrun returns to the same themes and themes from his first book, the sensational “The Charm Offensive”. Players who want to escape from loneliness and depression also choose love from lust, honesty from deception, depression and family situations.

Inside, Cochrun offers a unique portrait of the culture, society, business, and romantic complexities of the Rose City that thrives in regional affairs from the maple pillows of Voodoo Donuts to the steep slopes of Mount Hood.

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He immediately draws you in with the dramatic opening scene — a close-up of midnight snow on Christmas Eve at Burnside Bridge.

For Elena “Ellie” Oliver, a 25-year-old from Ohio, winter days hold fond memories. Their “magic type” represents freedom.

As a child it meant freedom from “the stress of school and the stress of society”; in college at Ohio State he refers to the best times with his best friend, Meredith, away from the “study program,” running on stolen trays in the dining hall. In Portland winter days are big; they “seemed to mean freedom from everything.”

Ellie left Ohio for a dream job as a photographer with the legendary Laika Studios at their headquarters in Hillsboro. For him, art was an escape from parents struggling with a lack of essential love. But within a month he was out of a job, unable to find rent for a “studio apartment” on southeast Belmont near 34th Avenue, and crying loudly on the floor in the Gold Room of Powell’s City of Books.

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It’s where the classic rom-com takes place. When Ellie reaches for Alison Bechdel’s gay “family tragicomic,” “Happy Home,” one immediately reaches for it.

The 1990s Keanu Reeves/Leonardo DiCaprio pairing with “curves hidden under their clothes” smells like bread and is called Jack. His words are his. Ellie, who calls herself monogamous, is not concerned.

After deciding to co-parent the final book of “Fun Home,” Ellie and Jack spend the day (and night) together after coffee at Powell’s photo exchange. Jack, who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 26, who dropped out of the University of Oregon, is a pastry chef who works for low wages, “much to the chagrin” of his wealthy parents and his lifestyle choices, hoping to start his own bakery, The Butch Oven. Since art was an escape for Ellie, baking cakes was a way to escape her “absence of emptiness”.

Cochrun intersperses the script for “Snow Day” from Ellie’s Webcomic within the main story that follows the plot that takes place one year after Ellie’s Christmas weekend trip to Mount Hood.

This is caused by an important event that promises to solve all of Ellie’s major financial and emotional problems, including the fight against her abusive 46-year-old mother, Linds, who does not visit her daughter, even on holidays.

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Ellie is not very good at her job as a barista at the Roastlandia coffee shop. If the “Burberry coat were a person” it would be the owner of Roastlandia, Andrew Kim-Prescott, and his “shame of eyelashes.” He looks like Ellie’s savior.

Andrew is the heir to his family’s real estate company. The man just passed away and I left him a $2 million trust. But it comes with a big cable attached. He cannot succeed unless he marries. This is where Ellie comes in. This is also where the romantic twists begin.

Andrew takes Ellie to an upscale bar in the Pearl District, where he pays for $15 Moscow Mules with a black AmEx and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: 10% of the trust if she agrees to a year-long fake wedding. Their towel deal also includes the non-negotiable offer to spend Christmas weekend at his parents’ “multi-million dollar” Swiss four-story mansion with six balconies on Mount Hood.

Andrew’s family welcomes Ellie with open arms. There are two “silly-looking” grandmothers and a well-organized mother whose laminated Excel spreadsheet details the correct schedule. Two hours of walking in the snow including next year’s family photo in ugly holiday sweaters, two hours of caroling, three hours of finding the best tree, six hours of decorating Christmas cookies, and 12 hours of tours. Hallmark’s moment is different.

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Things get complicated.

The first big bombshell (this is not a spoiler) is when Andrew’s sister, Jacqueline (aka Jack) arrives in her silver Airstream with her dog, Paul Hollywood, and Andrew’s best friend (and ex) Dylan Montez. Ellie is shocked when she realizes that she has agreed to marry her one-night stand from a year ago. He is also surprised to realize that it is part of the “trapezoid love trap.”

Can true love make it through the Pacific Northwest’s thick jungle of secrets and lies? Will Ellie give up her future for Jack’s love? Will Jack say he’s really in love with Ellie? Are Andrew and Dylan destined for each other? Who knows how many? And what is Burl Ives supposed to do with all this?

The four love sides form a beautiful love triangle. Cochrun successfully tackles the “absurdity” of the situation, playing it up with fun tricks, misunderstandings, mistakes and wrongful admissions.

Like Ellie and Jack do with “Fun Home,” you may find yourself sharing the rights to “Kiss Her Once For Me” with your favorite reading buddy. Start your indulgence with a cappuccino at Powell’s or a kiss of vinegar and mistletoe on Mount Hood.

Details: See Alison Cochrun in conversation with Anita Kelly at 7pm on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton.

– Robert Allen Papinchak, of The Oregonian/OregonLive



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