Published by Bloomsbury on October 6, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Source: From the Publisher
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In "Mistletoe and Mr. Right," Jessica (not Jessie) takes a flying leap and follows her boyfriend home for the holidays for Christmas break, sure that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop to the beginning of their happily ever after. But it turns out his family--and his gorgeous ex-girlfriend--don't feel the same way, and the only person making the trip worthwhile is the local farmhand, who has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most . . . and least.
The holiday hijinks continue in "Sleigh Bells and Second Chances," when Jessica's best friend makes her own way across the pond! Christina Lake does not want to be away at Christmas, but it's her duty to babysit one of London's hottest bands at their last-minute concert on Christmas Eve . . . even though she had a fling with Cary, the band's lead singer, that never officially ended. Now forced to reconnect, Christina is starting to think that maybe London is exactly where she's supposed to be to get the perfect New Year's kiss--at least until she finds out that he's been lying the whole time. Can Cary find a way to prove himself before the clock strikes twelve? Or will the New Year ring in a new romance?
Lyla Payne wraps up two perfect holiday novellas, ties them with a ribbon of romance, and tops them with a light dusting of snow. Perfect to curl up with under the tree. Just add hot cocoa!
I really enjoyed Mistletoe and Mr. Right when I read it last year, so I was very excited to receive this bundle for Bloomsbury, which contains Mistletoe and Mr. Right and also a follow-up novella called Sleigh Bells and Second Chances. Just for convenience, I’m going to paste my original review of Mistletoe and Mr. Right here before reviewing the follow-up novel!
Mistletoe and Mr. Right: I was particularly excited when I found out that this novel takes place in Ireland, and Lyla Payne really did a wonderful job with the setting. It felt magical and quintessentially Irish. The characters were charming, and I could just hear their beautiful Irish accents as I read their exchanges. I loved the bed and breakfast that Jessica’s boyfriend’s parents owned, and I loved the snow and the decorations. I could just smell the Christmas treats baking in the oven.
My favorite part of the story was the very beginning. I commiserated with Jessica’s long and eventful travel time. Transatlantic flights are not fun at all, plus then she had to drive the snowy roads on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road… and almost killed the family’s beloved goat. There she is, wet and cold, standing in the dark looking for the goat she hit and up comes the sexy farmhand, Grady. I loved this guy, and I loved him so much more than Jessica’s stuffy boyfriend, Brennan. I did love Brennan’s family, though. They were such characters, and I laughed at their antics several times. I’d love to be a fly on their wall during their Christmas dinner.
The writing was kind of dramatic, but I tend to allow so many things I don’t usually allow when it comes to Christmas books. It read like a super cheesy Hallmark movie, but I get all sappy and cheesy during the holidays so I didn’t even care. Things are a bit predictable and formulaic, but I came away happy and satisfied and ready for Christmas!
Sleigh Bells and Second Chances: Sadly, I didn’t like this one as much. Mistletoe and Mr. Right was funny and light and sweet, and I found myself so annoyed by Christina that I honestly could not wait to finish this novella. I love that it took place in London, and there were some magical descriptions of the scenery… but my love stopped there. I cared more about the romance than the technical goings-on of a band publicist. The descriptions of sound checks and sweaty band members bored me. And Christina’s drama bothered me a lot. She spent most of the book either miserable, broody, or self conscious. I really liked Cary as a person now, although I hate what he did to Christina. But he’s trying to make amends, and she’s just being a baby who throws tantrums all the time. The backstory of why Cary did what he did makes no sense at all, and I was really unconvinced. Maybe I’m just at a higher level, but what girl goes out and sleeps with a guy who betrayed her? She keeps saying she can’t trust him and she doesn’t want his life, so why is she sleeping with him? Her poor decisions made me lose respect for her. And really, the story isn’t even very Christmassy. Meh.
Read this book for Mistletoe and Mr. Right! I thought it was very fun and an enjoyable read. Sleigh Bells and Second Chances just didn’t work for me, even though I was super excited about the whole band aspect. Things just fell flat. I wanted more Christmas magic and less brooding.