BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review of Kissing Under the Mistletoe: A Sullivan Christmas by Bella Andre

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Series: The Sullivans #10
Format Read: eGalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: Sep. 24th
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble | ARe*
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission for purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

For Mary Sullivan Christmas is, and always has been, about family. And this year is no different. As she awaits the arrival of her eight children and their partners at the cottage in Lake Tahoe, she hangs the ornaments that they made for her over the years. Each decoration brings with it a tide of memories, all of which she holds dear to her heart. But when she comes across the oldest ornament, the one her beloved husband, Jack, gave her on their very first Christmas together, Mary is immediately swept back to the first days of their whirlwind romance, to the love that would be the foundation on which they built the family she is so proud to call her own.  

Join the Sullivans this Christmas for a story that explores the wonder of the holidays, the meaning of family and a love that transcends time. 

Bea's Thoughts:

Although the 10th book in the Sullivan series "Kissing Under the Mistletoe" can easily be read as a stand-alone; there are mild spoilers for earlier couples. This story tells of the romance between the Sullivan matriarch, Mary, and the deceased patriarch, Jack. Mary is decorating the Christmas tree for the family gathering and goes back in time first to when the children were little and then to when she and Jack first met and their resulting courtship.The bulk of the book is Mary's reminiscences.

To be honest, I didn't love this book. I liked it, it was cute and sweet, like a meringue, and I love meringue cookies, but there was too much egg. The book had a ton of repetition, mostly Mary thinking how she doesn't want to rush things and she knows Jack is perfect for her but she can't take the risk and look how perfect he is, so patient, but can she trust him and so on and so on and so on. The book could have been trimmed significantly by cutting back on the non-stop repetition. Several times, I had to check my place in the book because I was sure I had already that scene only to find that it was just a previous scene slightly re-written. All right, enough, we get it, we aren't idiots.

So, sweeping away the excessive verbiage, what's left is a sweet story about a successful and smart woman ready for a career and life change who meets a smart, sweet man trying to get his career revved up. She can help boost his profile and sell his new product but he wants more than that, he wants to date her. She's interested in him also but hesitant to mix pleasure and business, understandably so. Previously she became involved with a man who was part of an ad campaign she was starring in and things went sour when he chose a new model, both for the campaign and his bed. I liked that Mary was confident, smart, savvy, caring, loyal and strong. She was hesitant about the parameters of their relationship but overall she moved confidently through her life., making decisions, with only a few regrets.

Jack falls in love with Mary instantly and the more time he spends with her, the more he loves her. He also respects her and graciously accedes to her condition that they not become involved until their business is concluded. Of course, neither finds that easy to do and those scenes ranged from sweet to emotional. There's a dinner scene with his family that was over-the-top for me: both are perfect with children, she's instantly loved by everyone at the dinner, she jumps in to save dinner. It added nothing to the book, it was superfluous froth and made both Jack and Mary into perfect Ken and Barbie dolls.

In fact, Mary is a bit too perfect - she cooks! she loves children! children love her! she mentors younger models! she's smart! she polite! she's funny! she's wealthy but doesn't flaunt it! and so on and so on and so on. Her major flaw is her split with her parents but even that gets dealt with in the course of the book.

The writing was also awkward at times, with a fair number of cliches:

It wasn't until she'd drained her well of emotion dry...

And she knew he was putting on the brakes...

...Mary knew in her heart of hearts...

Those were just a few of the many cliches.

I liked this book, it told a sweet story of a romance between two smart, capable adults madly in love with each other. I wish that the constant repetition and the cliches had been trimmed; the story would have been leaner and stronger for it.

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  1. I love your meringue metaphor! I've read some books like that recently myself: sweet, tasty, but not a lot of substance. I also appreciate your pointing out the (over)use of cliches. I do wish some authors would use them more sparingly!

    1. I was worried my meringue metaphor might be too cliched but it was so apt. Andre uses cliches frequently in her books but they really stood out in this one.

  2. I really want to start this series. I have the first few on my Kindle. I hope the rest of the series is better than this one, although it sounds like it has some good moments too.


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