The book A Timeless Christmas was released in 2018, and it has been made into a movie by Hallmark Channel, which is releasing this month. I thought this would be a great time to review the book as well as interview Alexis Stanton, who also writes as Eva Leigh and Zoë Archer.
Keira Soleore: Welcome to Frolic, Alexis. How exciting that A Timeless Christmas has been made into a movie that is releasing on November 15. I have a few questions for you regarding this. How did you come to write this book for Hallmark Publishing?
Alexis Stanton: I was approached by Bryn Donovan from Hallmark Publishing to take an existing synopsis that was about three or four pages and develop it into a full-length novel. Because my other pen names (Eva Leigh and Zoë Archer) write historical romance, Bryn felt that the time-travel element would be a great fit for me, and I truly enjoyed writing about a 1903 “tech whiz” being transported to the modern era. What’s great about Charles is that he’s excited about the future and greets all the innovations with eagerness. It’s easy to have a negative view of technology, so to have a character who sees these changes through a positive lens was fun and refreshing.
Keira: When was your book optioned for a movie? And when did Hallmark sign up to do the movie?
Alexis: The book was optioned in June of 2019 and was finally greenlit for production in August 2020. Yes, it took over a year! It might have been a shorter process, but the pandemic happened, and I think that altered the whole process.
Keira: Did you always know that A Timeless Christmas would be made into a movie?
Alexis: There was always the possibility that it could be made into a film, but the development process can be very long, so honestly, I was starting to believe that it would remain a dream, especially in the long period time between it being okayed for development and final, the production. Given that I write historical romance, I never believed that any of my books would be made into films (due to budget constraints). So when I got the email in August, I was so excited! I wanted to visit the set, but due to Covid-19, everyone had to be safe, which meant a visit wasn’t possible. They had rigorous safety protocols for the set, including the cast quarantining for two weeks in Vancouver. But I stalked the production through social media.
Keira: Did you have any say in the script? Casting?
Alexis: By the time I heard about the production happening, the script had been written and the actors cast, so I didn’t have any say. But I honestly couldn’t be happier when I heard that Ryan Paevey and Erin Cahill were cast as Charles and Megan, respectively, with Ron Oliver directing. I couldn’t have asked for a greater team.
Keira: Have you seen it? Are you happy with the way it turned out?
Alexis: As of yet, I haven’t seen it, so I’m extremely excited to watch and see Charles and Megan’s story brought to life!
Keira: Do you plan on having a watch party for it on November 15 on social media?
Alexis: We’re definitely having a watch party, complete with a signature cocktail and using the hashtag #timelessxmas. Please join us!
Keira: So what book project is next for you?
Alexis: I have a new kisses-only holiday romance, Operation: Holiday Matchmakers, out on November 10 about two rival matchmakers who must reluctantly work together during the holiday season to save their small town.
Keira: Alexis, thank you for joining Frolic for a short interview.
Only through knowing what had come before could anybody move forward.
This is such an opportune thought for our current times. It is through our knowledge of the past that we can learn what we should or shouldn’t do and how we should or shouldn’t behave in the future.
A Timeless Christmas is a time travel tale set in the early 1900s and 2018.
Megan Turner has been working as a tour guide of the Whitley-Moran Mansion by impersonating as Rosie, the housekeeper. Located in Cutter Springs in upstate New York, the mansion was built by Charles Whitley in 1902 for his fiancée. A self-made man and brilliant inventor and entrepreneur, Charles grew up poor and acquired vast wealth and influence through determination and hard work.
Megan has a PhD in American History and has been fascinated by Charles’ story. She has read all the extant manuscripts and documents she’s been able to find on him and by him, and she cannot bear to look away from his portrait every time she sees it. All in all, she is halfway in love with a man who mysteriously disappeared in 1902, a week before Christmas.
With modern-day Christmas just a week away, the person impersonating Charles Whitley for the mansion museum tours quits, leaving them quite in the lurch. How can they continue their tours and host the Christmas party without a Charles reenactor? But they have no choice. The day’s tours have been booked in advance.
In the process of guiding the evening tour from room to room, when they come upon a deep method actor doing an impressive impersonation of Charles, Megan is at first flabbergasted how they found a replacement so quickly and then flummoxed at how much in character he was and how perfectly he matched the real Charles’ portrait.
To Charles, this is an utterly baffling evening. Who on earth were all these people invading his home, and what were those rectangular devices they were holding in their hands and talking into? What was social media and what did it mean that something was going viral? His bewilderment changes to stark shock when he sees the date on the phone.
What has happened to him! Of course he’d read H.G Wells’ The Time Machine, but on no account could he have imagined that time travel could happen to a real live person. Stanton has handled Charles’ perplexity splendidly — how he comes to the realization of where he is and then how he continues to grapple with modern conveniences and advances and changes as the story goes on.
Megan is beguiled by his old-world courtesy and manners, and she is seduced by having her passion for history come alive for her. He is honored by her openness and acceptance and her understanding of his former life and current modern challenges. He appreciates her as no boyfriend of hers ever has — alive to her personality quirks and captivated by her opinions. I was taken in by these two people from such utterly different backgrounds and experiences who nevertheless connect so well with each other in all the ways that truly matter to building a life together.
I find that I am unable to write more in this review without giving away the essential plot points that make this time travel story such a wonderful gift to unwrap. Stanton writes with a charm and a warmth ideally suited for the Christmas season. While the details such as the décor and the events such as the tree-lighting ceremony all are the proper accoutrements of the holiday, it is in the caring spirit with which the protagonists engage with each other and everyone they encounter that truly embodies the quintessence of Christmas. This novel is a treat to be savored along with hot chocolate and a crackling fire.