Review: The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Format: mass market
Pub Date: October 2016
Publisher: Avon
Length: 361 pages
POV: 3rd
FTC: Purchased myself

The Trouble with Mistletoe is very much a holiday novel, both in the outward trappings of Christmas as well as the notion of forgiveness and an open heart.

For those unfamiliar with Jill Shalvis, she writes funny, sexy contemporaries that are packaged a bit like Debbie Macomber or Silhouette Special Editions, but are in no way similar. Don't be fooled. Her men (and women) are very much contemporary, so expect some bad language and steam. (Not really fond of her covers, although these are better than the headless torsos with random animals... Anyhoo...moving on.)

The Trouble with Mistletoe is set in San Francisco. It's the 2nd book in her Hearbreaker Bay series, and despite it's urban setting, it still feels very much like a small town romance. Small circles of friends with interconnected stories. In this case, it's Willa, a pet shop owner, and Keane, a professional house flipper.

In another case of "what are the odds?" Keane and Willa had attended the same high school, where Keane stood her up for the prom. He has no memory of this, and she is nursing a long held grudge. The set up happens when Keane's aunt saddles him with Satan in the form of a cat, which he has neither the time or experience to deal with.

As always, there's plenty of humor in the book, but Keane and Willa also have some serious issues to work through and some heavy baggage. I'm a character-centric reader, and one of my favorite things about Jill Shalvis's writings is how emotionally authentic her characters always are—the men in particular. Keane is no exception. We get inside his head and heart in a way few authors can pull off these days and show him as unapologetically masculine, but still vulnerable. 

Although this is a holiday book, I think it would work well at any time of year.

My Grade: A-

The Blurb:

If she has her way…
Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her…
…He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.
Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him…
Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice…
Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but he doesn’t even remember her. How can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish–and let the mistletoe do its work…

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