Hello friends and happy holidays! Today I’m coming at you with a bit of a different format. Recently I received a box full of Christmas romance novels from Forever to review here on the blog. I’ve been reading them all month long and they’ve been giving me all the festive vibes.
I’ve been a bit busy this month between working and doing my daily TikTok Vlogmas, and I haven’t had the time to write full length reviews of any books. So as a solution, I’ve decided to do what I’m going to be calling “Mini Reviews.” It will basically be a collection of short reviews (1-3 paragraphs) of my most recent reads. And to kick it off, I’m starting with the four Christmas titles that Forever sent me.
Like I’ve said, these books were sent to me by Forever, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Read on to check out the synopsis of each book and what I thought about them!
Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason
Sophie DiRossi loved growing up in Harmony Harbor. But after fleeing in disgrace many years ago, it is the last place she wants to be. Left homeless by a fire, she’s forced to go back to the small coastal town that harbors a million secrets, including her own. Sophie sees this secret reflected every day in her daughter’s blue eyes — and she must keep it hidden from the only man she has ever loved.
Sophie’s return is a shock for everyone . . . especially Liam Gallagher. The firefighter had some serious feelings for Sophie — and seeing her again sparks a desire so fierce it takes his breath away. Now Liam will do whatever it takes to show Sophie that they deserve a second chance at love, even if everything they’ve concealed threatens to keep them apart. In this special town at this special time of the year, Sophie and Liam can only hope for a little holiday magic . . .
Oddly, “Mistletoe Cottage” was my first introduction into mass market romance. I’ve never been too sure about them. The covers are cheesy and I have always assumed they followed the stories of middle aged divorced women moving back home and falling in love with the one who got away. Not exactly something I can relate to or have interest in at the moment. While I’m not entirely wrong about the plot, I will admit there is a bit more to these romance novels that make me flip the cover face down onto a table when I’m out in public.
However, “Mistletoe Cottage” didn’t do it for me. The beginning was fine and it seemed like the story would be right down the middle for me–not great, not terrible–but then I got a few chapters in where we see and hear from someone who has died and is now a ghost. Like, we actually experience this person becoming a ghost and everything. Maybe this is harsh, but from that moment on, I could not take this book seriously and every time we had to get to a ghost chapter, I actually rolled my eyes.
And while there were moments I liked the characters, there was entirely too much back and forth with Sophie and Liam. It gave me a headache. I think my favorite character was the butler.
The Christmas Village by Annie Rains
Lucy Hannigan has inherited her mother’s bulldog, Bella, and her childhood home, the only pink house on Gingerbread Lane. With the holidays coming up, the pressure is on to decorate the house for the annual lights competition and maintain her parent’s winning streak. But Lucy already has her hands full as a midwife and a new landlord-to her ex-fiance.
When Miles Bruno is suddenly asked to move out of his rental home, he’s grateful to Lucy for taking him on as a tenant. But their broken-off engagement doesn’t make it easy to live next door. Sparks still fly between them, and he’d give anything to get back in Lucy’s good graces. But to do that will take much more than just tree trimming and house decorating and contest winning. Will one wildly grand romantic gesture on Christmas Eve finally soften her heart?
The second of these four books I read this month was “The Christmas Village,” which I loved so much. It was exactly what I expected from a holiday romance. Perhaps it being the longest of these four books meant there was more room for stuff to be explored and included, but I really felt like this story was the most complete of all four. It was also the one with most emotional punch. I could feel Lucy’s heartache at experiencing her first Christmas without her mom and the confusion of all her mom left behind for her to handle.
My most favorite thing about this book, however, was that it was also the one to give me the most Christmas feels, which is ultimately what I’m looking for when I pick up a Christmas book. The Merriest Lawn decorating contest is top tier Christmas book content
No Ordinary Christmas by Belle Calhoune
The quaint New England town of Mistletoe is thrilled to welcome back one of their own, Dante West. Now a famous Hollywood action star, Dante is filming a movie in town to help the local economy, as well as make amends with the people he hurt when he abruptly left Mistletoe all those years ago.
Librarian Lucy Marshall isn’t thrilled to see Dante. He was once her best friend and first love until he left her behind without a word of goodbye. When Dante makes her an offer she can’t refuse — use of the library as a filming venue in exchange for a lucrative donation, Lucy finds herself spending a lot of time in Dante’s company. With the magic of Christmas in the air, Dante and Lucy begin to forge a new bond. But can two people leading such different lives find lasting love the second time around?
The third book I read was “No Ordinary Christmas” and yay! People of color in love at Christmas time!! The best word I have to describe this book is: cozy. I mean, a town called Mistletoe? At Christmas? Come on. I think “No Ordinary Christmas” is a close second to “The Christmas Village” in terms of Christmas feels. There were so many scenes of festive fun from parades, to Christmas tree farms, to Santa meet and greets. The author did a great job of jam packing all of that in the story while we got to know Lucy and Dante.
Maybe the only thing I didn’t enjoy too much was the feeling that there was more to explore with side characters. I completely understand setting that up for other potential books, but with this book, which was already so short, it felt like I was missing key information because some side characters were focused on a bit too much, thus making me feel like their story was incomplete once I got to the end.
Christmas At Silver Falls by Jenny Hale
White Oaks Inn has always been at the heart of Christmas celebrations for Scarlett Bailey and her family. Her adored gran has owned the rambling, old-fashioned hotel, filled with the scent of cinnamon and chocolate, since Scarlett was a little girl. But now her gran’s home is under threat. And it looks like it could be the Baileys’ last Christmas together there…
Over the holiday season, amidst much-loved festive traditions of baking cookies and decorating the tree, Scarlett throws herself into saving the hotel. When she hears that Charlie Bryant, a handsome, successful property developer, is spending December in Silver Falls, Scarlett is hopeful he might be the answer to their problems.
When they meet, sparks fly between impulsive Scarlett and business-like Charlie – as they both have very different ideas for the future of White Oaks. Scarlett is determined to show him how much White Oaks Inn means to her family and the guests who return there every year and, as they spend more time together, she begins to realize there is more to Charlie than his serious appearance…
But Charlie is struggling with a secret from his own past. Will he be able to face it, or will it stop him from truly opening up and getting close to anyone? And can Scarlett share the true meaning of Christmas with him and save her gran’s beloved hotel along the way?
This is the last of the Christmas books I read and it was a bit of a letdown. Maybe the only thing I really liked was the setting. It was very idyllic and cozy. But other than that, I found the situation the characters were in with the inn frustrating. I found most of the characters frustrating. And it was also a bit much to keep up with the sheer amount of characters included when the focus was supposed to be Scarlett and Charlie.
Final Thoughts Overall
Overall, I wouldn’t regret reading any of these books, even the ones I gave lower ratings to. I discovered a new favorite, and now have some knowledge on these sort of cheesy cover romances which I knew nothing about prior to this month. I’m not too sure I will pick up any on my own going forward, but I’m happy to report I’ll think twice before passing them by based off just their covers.
Happy Holidays to you all and thank you for all the follows, comments, and likes this year–it has meant so much to me. I’ll be back in the new year with my 2021 Reading Year In Review, and then we’ll get back to our usual erratic posting schedule! See you in 2022! ❤