Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: In Mistletoe by Tammy L. Bailey

Title: In Mistletoe
Author: Tammy L. Bailey
Genre/Age: Contemporary Romance/Adult
Series: None
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Format: ebook via Reading Alley
Rating: ✺✺✺
SynopsisAt twenty-five, Grace Evans is steadily picking up the pieces of everyone else’s life. So, when her younger sister decides to turn into a runaway bride just four weeks before the wedding, Grace, drops everything to chase after her and bring her back home. Only, when the trail leads to Mistletoe, Washington, she finds herself at the mercy of the town’s most handsome and emotionally unavailable bachelor.

Ex-Army officer, Ayden McCabe, has three creeds in life: never make the first move, never fall in love, and never take anyone to Mistletoe’s Christmas Dance. Wanting nothing more than to keep his matchmaking sister from meddling in his personal life, he agrees to help Grace if she agrees to play his girlfriend. Too brunette and meek for his taste, Ayden believes Grace can’t tempt him enough to break any of his creeds. He could not be more wrong.

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

Wish I could have loved this more...

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Grace has traveled halfway across the country in order to find her runaway bride sister. Shortly after arriving, she discovers that her job maybe more difficult than she predicted. The only place to stay in the mountain town is with a man who has a rough reputation among the ladies. And he wants something in return: a fake girlfriend for a week.

Ayden has no intentions of settling down. In fact, he'd love nothing more than to sell his bed and breakfast and focus on his construction business full-time. Marriage and babies are not in his future. So when his sister's meddling reaches an all-time high, he needs a way to get her off his back. And the new woman in town just might be the answer to his problem.

As Grace tries to find her sister and understand the man she's been shackled to, she has to fight the weather and the local women who consider her to be a threat. Toss in a jerk of an ex-boyfriend and you have an even bigger recipe for disaster. In the end, she may leave Mistletoe as a completely different woman and possibly even with a broken heart.

I've read another book by this author and I loved it, so it was easy for me to volunteer to review this one. And while I didn't hate the story, I didn't love it either. I considered quitting the book about halfway through, when I realized the story wasn't really going anywhere, but I persevered. And it did get better toward the end, but it just wasn't enough to save the story for me by that point.

What I liked about the book was mostly the idea of it. A fake girlfriend romance? Yes, please. Christmas-themed story to get me in the holiday mood? Yep, I wanted that too. But after only a few chapters, I could tell this wasn't exactly the story I thought it would be. While it was fairly well-written, I just couldn't bring myself to really enjoy it.

I mostly had trouble with connecting to and accepting the characters. Grace was the biggest pushover and probably the most pathetic female lead I have read about all year. I don't mind a confused heroine learning to trust herself and so on, but when I found out that she has broken up with her ex over 10 times, I lost pretty much all respect for her. Sometimes she would say something that impressed me, but then she would immediately do or say something to ruin it.

Ayden wasn't much better in the personality department. I wanted to like him since he did have a good sense of family. But his internal thoughts were likely what killed his character for me. I don't mind a hero who isn't a prince charming, yet I often found myself wondering why anyone would like this guy when he supposedly had throngs of women after him.

As for the plot coming to life, that part confused me too. I understood why Grace initially went there looking for her sister. I even understood the reason for coming across Ayden, since she needed a place to stay while there. But I didn't see the need for the fake girlfriend agreement when Ayden clearly had a handle on his lack-of-a-love-life. That part felt a little forced. The constant delaying in searching for her sister didn't help things either, I'm afraid.

Toward the end, the story did slowly begin to come together for me. I can't say that I rooted for this pairing by then, but I did want to see some sort of satisfying conclusion after all of the hell Grace went through for practically no reason at all. And the ending was pretty good, even if I didn't love the whole 'big secret' conspiracy part.

In closing...
Everyone has different tastes and this one just wasn't mine, but I will still read more from this author in the future. 3 suns!

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