Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86381-5
Contemporary Romance, 2014
A Mistletoe Affair closes the Wintersage Weddings series, and this one has a side-plot that is spilled over from the first book in the series, AC Arthur’s Eve of Passion. Let me share it here in case there are folks reading this that want to read this book without reading that other book too: Jordan Winter, the hero of this book, aided a campaign by some guy in the first book, only to see that guy soundly defeated by the father of our heroine Vicki Ahlfors’s best friend once people had cast their votes. Jordan refuses to believe that the election was conducted fairly, and this is eating at him when this story begins. This matter is referenced in the early parts of this book, possibly causing some new readers to scramble to keep up, but it isn’t that big an issue between the hero and the heroine.
Anyway, Vicki is the florist among the trio of fabulous women that star in this series, and she wants to become a new person when the story begins. In the past, she’s been a sweet, pleasant, and non-confrontational person, and as a result, even her family takes her horribly for granted as that obedient donkey that they can always count on to do for them whatever they don’t want to do themselves. Worse, none of her family members bothers to hide the fact that they view her as a disappointment despite her successful floral business. In fact, they see this floral business of hers as more evidence that she is just not like the other Ahlfors.
Jordan is a single father, which means that he is automatically loaded. None of that money problems that plague the typical single mothers in romance, oh no. Jordan is trying to be the best father ever to Mason, especially with Christmas around the corner, but he isn’t sure how to start. Guess who has to step in with her magic Mary Poppins touch. Vicki is already cleaning up the house and cooking – and they aren’t even dating yet. Jordan has to be crazy to let this woman get away, and he isn’t crazy, not even a bit. Jordan has a bit of trust issue when it comes to getting involved long-term with another woman, however.
On paper, A Mistletoe Affair seems like another by-the-number holiday romance with every trope that can be crammed inside, well, crammed inside. However, it is a very nice testament to how, sometimes, even a story with the most overused clichés can be a solid read if the author also succeeds in making her characters feel like real people with believable motivations. Jordan and Vicki are no doubt wealthier than most readers reading their story, but they speak, talk, and act like folks that could have easily lived down the street. Their romance develops naturally and believably, and the pacing is fine. Both characters are likable types, and I can buy their romance because they act and feel like they are meant for one another. I also appreciate how Vicki comes to herself and ends up deciding that, if her family don’t believe that she’s good enough for them, it’s enough that she believes that she is good enough for herself. This epiphany is especially nice because it isn’t solely catalyzed by her having a boyfriend in her life. Jordan doesn’t see her as a failure, and that certainly helps to bolster her confidence, but she is on her way to getting there even before she falls for Jordan.
A Mistletoe Affair is a very nice holiday romance, but I think it’d be great for any other time of the year as well.