Review: Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Marina Adair

Format: ebook
Pub Date: 2012
Publisher: Montlake
Length: 309 pages
FTC: Purchased myself

I am still clawing my way out of the Reading Slump That Will Not Die, so I took to Twitter to find some new-to-me authors who are similar to those whose books nearly always work for me (specifically Jill Shalvis and Maisey Yates).  Twitter, as always, came through. One of the authors suggested was Marina Adair.

I'm not sure how I ended up choosing this particular book, since it's a Christmas book, but it definitely fit the bill for what I was looking for: lighter, FUNNY romance. The set up is pretty simple: single mom Regan lands in Napa Valley with a new job prospect and a huge dollop of hope that things in her life will get easier. Soon she learns that her past has caught up with her and that her own personal nemesis is sabotaging her hopes and dreams again.

Adair has a nice, funny writing voice, and there are some hilarious set pieces in this book. Not the least of which is a "cursed" holiday decoration named Randolph that punctuates pivotal scenes and appears in the finale.

Randolph first appears in a supermarket grocery store parking lot scene where a display is being lobbed at our hero,  Gabe:

Gabe jerk to the right, narrowly avoiding the flying object spiraling at his head. 
[...] Regan yelled, winding up again and chuckingw hat papeared to be a procelain Santa. She missed him, but before he could get smug, the shatter of glass told him she'd hit her target. He turned to find Mr. Kringle's black boots sticking out of the back window of the Hummer.

"You'ev got a pretty good arm." Gabe tucked his hands in his pockets and leaned back against the fender. He'd never really understood why he enjoyed irritating her. Only that when her eyes went wild and that fighting pride of hers kicked in, all the years of drama between them seemed like bullshit.

I had some issues with the book, some personal and some more general. First, there's some serious stereotyping going on with the PTA mom group in this book. They are, in short, the enemy. I'm not sure if Adair had a bad experience she was working through or if she just fell back on an easy stereotype to create some conflict, but as a PTO mom, I found it a bit weird. Sure, there are PTAs out there like this, but it seems like lazy storytelling to throw a clicque-ish tiger mom stereotype out there and not really provide any counterpoint or nuance.

My other issue is that the hero, Gabe,  engages in some weird near-stalkerish behavior while trying to shield his family from unpleasantness, and the heroine seems to forgive him awfully quickly. 6 years of following her around, sabotaging her jobs/interviews, and she's just fine with it after she 'gets to know him." Um. Sure. Additionally, the fact that our hero manages to follow her around ruining her job prospects, but somehow doesn't find out she has become a single mom. Not to repeat myself, but...Um. Sure.

This was a fun book. It's light-hearted and most of the characters are excellent. There were also some heavier, emotional scenes that had me sniffling on the plane ride back from RT. My issues were mainly that the plot doesn't stand up to prolonged scrutiny and some of the secondary characters fit too neatly into a 1 dimensional stereotype.

My Grade: B-

The Blurb:
What will happen when this sparring duo finds each other under the mistletoe?
Regan Martin stopped believing in Christmas miracles six years ago when she lost everything—her house, her job, and her impeccable reputation in the wine industry—after she fell in love with a man she had no idea was married. Then Regan gets a chance for a fresh start in the Napa Valley. With her dream job, dream home, and her daughter enrolled in a wonderful new school, she starts wondering if holiday wishes really come true. But she soon tumbles back down to earth when she learns that her new boss is none other than Gabe DeLuca, the scorned wife’s brother. Gabe wants nothing more than home-wrecking Regan Martin out of his life, his sister’s world, and his family’s business. Mostly, he wants the lush beauty out of his head. Yet his attempts to run her out of town have him thinking twice, especially when he sees that Regan may hold the key to tracking down his sister’s stolen start-up capital. Even worse for Gabe, Regan might just be his Christmas wish and hold the key to his heart.

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