Wednesday, January 6, 2016
At thirty-two Kimberly Rossi, a finance officer at a Lexus car dealership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Burlington, VT. Deep inside Kimberly knows she’s at a junction in her life and it’s time to either fulfill her dream or let it go. The other reason she decides to attend the conference is because famed romance writer, H.T. Cowell, once the best selling romance writer in America, and the author whose books instilled in her the desire to be a writer, will be speaking in public for the first time in more than a decade.
In one of her breakout sessions Kimberly meets another aspiring writer, and one of the few men at the conference, Zeke, an intelligent man with a wry wit who seems as interested in Kimberly as he is in the retreat. As Kimberly begins to open up to him about her stories and dreams, she inadvertently reveals her own troubled past. As Zeke helps her to discover why her books fail to live up to their potential she begins to wonder if he’s really talking more about her life than her literature. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes that Zeke has his own darkness, a past he’s unwilling to talk about.
The theme of The Mistletoe Inn is that like literature, relationships must be lived with passion and vulnerability to succeed. -- Simon & Schuster
I think I've started every review this week with an apology or excuse... and today is not really an exception. I actually read THE MISTLETOE INN by Richard Paul Evans in a timely manner (prior to the holidays.) Let's just say I just forgot to review it in a timely manner!
THE MISTLETOE INN isn't a book that I'd probably pick up any time of the year outside of the holiday season. Obviously, it's a Christmas book given the title! But it's also a romance and I'm not a big one for romantic stories. However every once in awhile, I like a sweet love story.
THE MISTLETOE INN tells the story of Kimberly Rossi, a woman whose life isn't exactly going as planned. She is recently divorced and working as a finance officer at a car dealership. However, she longs to be a published romance author. When her father surprises her with nine days at a writers' retreat called The Mistletoe Retreat, she is at first reluctant to spend his money but then decides that this might be exactly what she needs. Plus she might get to meet the rock star romance writer H.T. Cowell... who just happens to be a bit of a recluse.
Kimberly ends up making a new friend at the writers' conference, and even better, she meets Zeke, an aspiring writer (and one of the few men at the conference) who isn't too hard on the eyes. Kimberly and Zeke have an immediate bond, and Kimberly finds herself falling hard and fast for him. Kimberly ends up sharing both her novel and stories about her past with Zeke only to find that she is still very vulnerable. Zeke's attention to Kimberly forces her to look at herself and her writing... and she eventually realizes that she has to come to terms with her past before she can be a successful writer.
However, Zeke also has his fair share of heartache and guilt from his past. Kimberly discovers that she also has something to offer to Zeke and can hopefully help him heal... just as he has helped her!
This might surprise you but I actually enjoyed THE MISTLETOE INN. I didn't love it, but I'm never going to love a romance story; however, it was entertaining and it did warm my heart. I found the book to be well written; and the characters were complex and, therefore, interesting. I am far from an expert on romance books, but I didn't think this one was over-the-top or mushy... and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.
I especially enjoyed the book/publishing angle of THE MISTLETOE INN. It was fun to get a glimpse into the inner workings of a writers' retreat, and I could totally imagine the variety of authors who come to them. Needless to say, there were more than a few opportunities for comic relief. In addition, it was interesting to hear Zeke's assessment of Kimberly's novel. As a book geek, I thought all of the publishing references were great!
As much as I enjoyed most of THE MISTLETOE INN, I have to warn you that I thought the book was very predictable. I realize this novel wasn't a thriller with a surprise twist at the end; however, I could pretty much see everything that was coming. And... the book really was wrapped up a little too neatly. Having said that, I accepted the book for what it was (realizing I wasn't the target audience) and just enjoyed it during a very stressful time of the year!
Overall, THE MISTLETOE INN will appeal to many readers... even those of us who aren't exactly fans of romance novels. It is the second book in Evans' Mistletoe Collection (and it definitely stands alone), and I wouldn't be opposed to reading more from this series.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.