it seems to me that it would be nice to link the heroine’s Broadway goals (and feelings that success is increasingly impossible) with the niece’s wish. Something that would make both of them happy. (Agreed)
One possibility for the heroine and hero to get together is she’ll have to discover fulfillment in the small town. Could her mother push her into directing a hometown play or musical?
Hallmark movie is what I’m going for. It’s set during the holidays and she is going to do a children’s Christmas pageant for her mom, since her mom is not able to. She is met with some reluctance from the town (even though she is from there) about her big city ideas, but she has the hero help her create a new set and it’s a big success. She ends up getting called back to NY for an audition but ultimately decides that this town is where she belongs.
The heroine has to have or know something that will bring joy to niece, but how can she do it without seeming conniving to the hero. Does she know the hero before she returns home to care for her mother? Do they have a past? Did she break his heart when she left to pursue her Broadway dreams?
The hero’s sister (that abandoned Brooke) was in the same grade as our heroine. They weren’t close friends (hero and sister from the wrong side of town), but they were in drama together and upon graduation they both went to NY together. Once there, hero’s sister derailed and didn’t want to stay with straight laced heroine, so off she went. Got pregnant, was in and out of trouble and finally – last year around Christmas, dumped Brooke at hero’s house. Hero is a few years older than heroine, but they knew each other. They were attracted to each other but never acted on it. Was thinking there could have been a mistletoe moment the Christmas before heroine moved to NY, but it would have been in more of a public place (like the town’s Christmas event). He was engaged after that but it ended around Christmas too (he hates Christmas).
Or does she need his advice on a matter related to her mother? How did she and the hero meet?
Mom fell on some decrepit stairs. Heroine hires hero to come fix them and realizes it IS her friends brother. He is angry with her because he blames her for not keeping his sister in check when they went to NY.