Simon & Schuster
November 17, 2015
November 22, 2017
The second holiday love story in New York Times bestselling author Richard Paul Evans’s Mistletoe Collection.
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.
I’ll start this review of The Mistletoe Inn with a little disclaimer. The only reason I purchased this book – and paid full price, I might add – was because the Hallmark movie of the same name was going to premiere on Thanksgiving Day. It stars one of my favorite actresses – Alicia Witt. I was a little concerned because, even though I made the purchase several weeks before Thanksgiving, I didn’t actually start reading it until two days before Thanksgiving. However, that turned out not to be a problem. I eagerly tore through it in two days!
The “In” of The Mistletoe Inn
I adored the premise of the story: Kim, the protagonist and a wannabe romance novelist, takes her first completed manuscript to a writer’s retreat in Vermont, shortly before Christmas. When she was trying to decide whether she should actually go, her father – recently diagnosed with prostate cancer – paid her admission fee and layered on the guilt that Kim would be wasting his money if she didn’t go.
Anxious to take a break from her day job at a car dealership in Colorado, she somewhat reluctantly heads up to Vermont. Besides, her ultimate favorite romance writer will be delivering the final keynote. That retreat, and more importantly the people she meets, will change her life forever. She not only learns a lot about her writing, but about herself. She finds that life’s lessons can occur at the strangest of times.
Need Some Holiday Cheer?
Everyone knows that Vermont is a perfect backdrop for a Christmas movie. Would it get any better if I mentioned there are excursions to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as well as Manhattan?
This book is filled with quotable takeaways! The author presents us with a short entry in Kim’s diary at the start of each chapter. I thought that a very clever thing to do, and many of them were just so good! I think I highlighted most of them.
The Other Stuff
Technically, the book is very good. The character arcs are good, and the pace is perfect. I imagine some folks would call this story cheesy, but that’s okay. The story made me feel good, and as a reader, that’s what matters to me.
I doubt this book will win a Pulitzer, and I suppose it is a bit formulaic, but I felt the characters were genuine. Further, the lessons the protagonist learns can apply to all of us.