3.5 * – I love the idea of Christmas tree farms, so I won’t complain that this is my second Christmas romance this year, with ’Tis the Season by Luci Dreamer, set in one. They’re two very different stories, however.
Fran Bell loves music and her job in the music industry. She wants the best for the artists she works with and will do everything she can for them, including sacrificing whatever time she could spend with her family. She adores her parents – two gay men – but doesn’t share their love of Christmas. To her, “Christmas is just another roast dinner”. Try saying that to the locals of Mistletoe, where Fran’s parents just moved! Not only is everyone in Mistletoe very much into Christmas, but as luck would have it, Fran’s parents’ neighbours own the local Christmas tree farm and are Ruby O’Connell’s family. Ruby, the outrageously talented – and gorgeous – folk singer who rejected Fran’s offer to sign her on the label she works for.
The characters are the best part of Christmas in Mistletoe. Ruby is tall and beautiful and talented, both as a singer and with a chainsaw, but she’s terribly insecure. Fran is driven but also kind and she adores her parents. She’s sexy and sometimes shy. Fran has been burnt by a singer before yet she’s willing to take all sorts of risks for Ruby. She’s very patient with her trust issues, which is the part that was a bit much for me. Ruby made me want to go all #NotAllMusicExecs on her. The singer/music exec conflict felt slightly far-fetched. While you can always count on Clare Lydon to write good romance and make the story smell like Christmas trees and hot chocolate, Christmas in Mistletoe reads a little as if she was going through the motions, not entirely feeling them. Or maybe it’s me. Or it’s 2020. I loved the atmosphere but didn’t entirely buy the conflict. I did, however, buy the chemistry and the falling in love and the wonderful families and the Christmas tree competition (Victoria deserves to win) and all the quirky and adorable secondary characters.