Christmas. A time for family, friends – and rekindling old flames…
When Laurel returns to the village of Middledip, she’s looking for a quiet life. Adjusting to her recent divorce, she’s ready to spend some time getting back on her feet amidst the glorious snow-dusted countryside.
Yet, life in Middledip is far from straightforward. Coming to the aid of her sister, Rea, as she navigates her own troubles, Laurel barely has a moment to think about where her own life is going.
However, time stands still when she sees her old flame, Grady Cassidy – and it’s soon as if they’ve never been apart. But through her happiness, Laurel remembers why she left the village all those years ago, as she recalls a dark night and Grady’s once-wayward brother, Mac…
Can Laurel learn to forgive and forget? Or will her chances of Christmas under the mistletoe with Grady remain a dream?
An enchanting, festive read, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Carole Matthews.
What I Enjoyed
Going into the book, I admit, I expected a warm and fuzzy holiday read, but what I discovered was a complex tale full of highs and lows, which is how holidays usually are, aren’t they? The aspect that stood out the most to me was the theme of family and family dynamics. Beyond all the highs and lows, Under the Mistletoe is full of family members who love each other unequivocally and unconditionally, and that is something that makes my heart fuzzy and warm.
The surprising aspects, which can be found in the challenging and uncomfortable topics of Agoraphobia, sexual assault, and bullying, are handled very sensitively and with the utmost compassion. I particularly found the information on Agoraphobia to be insightful and informative. This anxiety is most often found in young adult females and is so disabling. I think that it needs more awareness and applaud the author for doing just that.
I also enjoyed the insider’s look at what goes into creating a piece of artwork. The main character, Laurel, is a professional artist and the descriptions of her painting made me feel like I was there watching and gaining some insight into how the process works from beginning to end. I’ve never had that kind of look before, and I enjoyed it.
The story is told from the first-person perspective, which immerses the reader into the story. The pace remained quick most of the time, with a few slowdowns throughout the story. I didn’t mind the slowdowns as they gave me a moment to catch my breath and process the story to that point.
What I Wish
If I had to make a wish, I would say that I would wish that the story didn’t take on so many issues and maybe just focused on one and the consequential problems surrounding it. At times, it felt like too many topics were being thrown at me, which pulled me out of the story.
Laurel is a character that I mostly could sympathize with – okay, at times, I admit, I found myself muttering, ‘suck it up, buttercup” – but that’s just a me thing. I’m more of a put it behind you and move on kind of girl, and Laurel was having trouble doing both. But, to be fair, the situation is one of those that can stick with you and shape you forever. I just wanted to see her happy and whole. I did love the way she handled her sister’s anxiety. She is so loving and compassionate, encouraging but not demanding – I loved that about her! She handled Daisy’s bullying situation in much the same way. She took control of the problem and didn’t take no for an answer – my hero!
Reminds Me Of
I have not read any other holiday story like it or seen any holiday movies that compare. This is not a Hallmark movie waiting to happen. Perhaps it is more of a Lifetime movie type of story, tackling those challenging subjects but still dripping with warmth and love.
To Read or Not to Read
If you are looking for a different kind of holiday story, one that will illuminate tough topics while still providing a warm and fuzzy family story, Under the Mistletoe is one you won’t want to miss this season.
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle UK as well as top 100 in the US. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s emotionally compelling, feel-good novels are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers around the world. She’s also well known for short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses.
Born in Germany into an army family, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire, England aged ten. She loves reading, Formula 1, travel, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.