Thoughts on MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this fine Wednesday. Things are good here. The weather is slowly veering away from heat. We’re below 90 this week! Well, we’re supposed to be I think our highest high is supposed to be 89, so we could make it into the 90s. But I’m just rambling. It’s the last Wednesday of September, so it’s book review time! This month, I decided to go with a corny romance. I was hoping for something Halloween-y, but settled for Christmas since that’s all I could find. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss was released yesterday (the 27th) from G.P Putnam’s Sons. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Cute and matches the story.

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe follows Elinor “Nory” Noel, who runs a secondhand bookshop, as she spends a week with old friends from the posh private school she was a scholarship student at. The reunion brings a host of good memories mingled with a couple of particularly bad ones she would rather forget, but she pushes through in order to be supportive of her friends’ upcoming wedding. It helps when she meets Isaac, an old foe of her friend group, and he turns out to be not half bad (and still stupidly handsome). As the week passes and feelings grow, Nory and Isaac both have some major decisions to make if they want to keep things going.

I admit that romance isn’t my usual genre to read, but of the ones I have, this one pretty much fits the mold. Though, there’s a lot going on here. Most romance I’ve read has two or three subplots going on, but this one has at least six. It’s a lot and a couple of the plotlines feel thin, but it’s handled well for the most part. And it helps that the characters are all interesting enough that I didn’t mind following those subplots. There aren’t many places that drag since something is always happening to someone. So, that’s good.

I really only have two complaints about this book. The first is that all important first kiss scene. The payoff for all of the prolonged will-they/won’t-they bullshit. Of course they will. And the reader will get to be the creepy stalker who watches the sparks fly. I don’t feel like that’s too much to ask out of a romance. But it happens off the page with only a passing mention. Wtf? Sure, we get to see the second kiss, which is supposedly just as good, but it’s not the same. I was so disappointed.

The second complaint has to do with that last big fight scene. You know the one. Every romance has one. When the relationship doesn’t seem like it’s going to work. Well, I didn’t mind the scene, but Isaac’s reaction felt far more stereotypical than true to the character he was built to be. I can understand him kicking Guy out, but he would’ve heard Nory out. If he had kicked her out after discovering she was doing something he’d repeatedly told her he wasn’t ready for, I would’ve understood that and believed it. Kicking her and Guy out just felt like something they throw in to cause friction. It was forced. So, the whole pining thing for the last quarter of the book was just annoying instead of heart wrenching.

As far as the writing goes, it was actually a quick, fun read. The plot was a little dense, but mostly worked. The characters were fun and mostly interesting. It was cute and Christmasy and well written.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. Romance isn’t my favorite genre unless I’m in a particular mood, so I probably won’t go looking for more work by Bayliss, but I won’t avoid it either.

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Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. I had fun with it and definitely recommend it if you’re into corny romance, but it’s not something I’d recommend to everyone.

Thoughts on DEATH IN BLOOM

Howdy, howdy! It’s already the last Wednesday in May. Can you believe it? I have no idea where the time went, but I know that it’s time for another book review! This month, I just chose another cozy mystery. I wanted something that was likely to be fluffy and have a happy ending. Cozies are usually good for that. Death in Bloom is the first in the new Flower House mystery series by Jess Dylan. It was released yesterday (May 25th) from St. Martin’s Press. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it.

Cute cover.

Death in Bloom follows Sierra Ravenswood as she tries to settle into small town life after her dreams of being a singer in Nashville fall through. She returns to her hometown of Aerieville determined to build a better life for herself with the help of positive vibes and good thoughts. Unfortunately for her, her flaky boss skips town on some adventure and leaves her to run the flower shop on her own. Her first evening by herself is filled with a flower arranging class that she isn’t prepared to lead. Throw in a suspicious death during the class and things can’t get any worse, right? Wrong. Can Sierra solve a murder, find the person who keeps breaking into the Flower House, and take care of a new pup all at once? With the help of new friends and positive energy, anything is possible. She hopes.

The plot is pretty standard. Except the bestie is a rekindling of an old acquaintanceship from high school (they weren’t close back then, but why not now?) and the potential love interest is some sketchy dude who randomly shows up and asks way too many questions about the absent boss. Otherwise, there are plenty of obvious clues to lead you in the wrong direction all the way through. I admit that I doubted my murderer guess a couple of times, but stuck with it and was right in the end. It was twisty and turny enough to be a fun ride.

Me, at the end.

As far as the characters go, I liked them well enough. Sierra was a little wishy-washy when it came to the Flower House even though her choice was obvious. That was annoying. But her general personality and her familial interactions were all great. Deena is a little on the flat side, but there’s potential for some good development with her in later books. Calvin is super suspicious and with everything going on, I found it really hard to believe that Sierra just took the dude at his word. At least do some research on him. A quick google of the faculty website at the school he supposedly teaches at. Anything. But, no. It takes her more than half the book to realize he’s sketchy. It’s improbable. At least Gus is cute. He’s the corgi puppy she adopts when it becomes apparent her boss isn’t coming back for him.

Look at that face!

The writing is nice. Everything flows pretty smoothly and keeps the story hopping along at a quick pace. There were some sections that felt redundant as they rehashed the case, but that happens in all cozies I’ve found.

Ultimately, Death in Bloom was enjoyable and pretty fluffy. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future books in this series. I might even check out the other series that Jess Dylan wrote using the name Jennifer David Hesse.

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Overall, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. If you like cozy mysteries with a weirdly positive lead woman and cute puppers, it’s certainly worth a look.