Saturday, December 13

Book Review: Love at Mistletoe Inn by Cindy Kirk

Set in small-town Harmony, Idaho, the Christian romance novella Love at Mistletoe Inn is Hope Prentiss' story.  Hope, an accountant by trade, helps her Aunt Verna run a rustic wedding venue called Harmony Creek.  She's dating a conservative banker with dreams of running for office. Above all things, Hope is methodical, organized, and maybe just a little bit uptight. When Hope's bohemian best friend Amity Carter, who helps brides plan nontraditional weddings (she loves wedding cakes topped with skulls), assures one of her brides that her marriage will be legal even if the forms aren't sent in, Hope's orderly life takes a tailspin. When she was in high school, Hope took one big, out-of-character risk. She eloped with Verna's foster son, John Burke, on prom night, but got cold feet - after saying "I do."  If Amity is right, Hope and John are still married... and guess who just came back to town?
I spend hours every December watching Christmas romance movies on the Hallmark channel, and that's exactly what Love at Mistletoe Inn reminded me of.  Like a Hallmark movie, Hope's story is charming and comforting.  We know John's reappearance in Harmony is going to shake up Hope's supposedly perfect life.  Hope may think she has everything under control, but when Verna tells John and Hope about her plan to turn her house into a wedding chapel called Mistletoe Inn and enlists their help in planning a wedding for a couple who is conveniently out of the country, it's fairly obvious that she's the story's real puppet master.  The story is extremely predictable, but if it was a movie, I'd totally watch it with cocoa in hand.

As a wedding-obsessed blogger, I love the idea of Kirk's Year of Weddings novella series - women who help make others' perfect days happen navigating their own romances.  While I enjoyed this quick, cozy read, I thought the story could have been stronger.  Besides financial stability and a good reputation, it's not clear what Hope sees in her boyfriend Chester, so there's not enough conflict threatening John and Hope's reunion to make things really interesting.  For me, Verna being the parental figure for both Hope and John was also problematic - it was hard to believe that John had come back to town for years of holiday functions and he and Hope had never broached the topic of their wedding before.  I think the story would be more dramatic if Hope and John really hadn't seen each other in a decade, and if each of the book's "catastrophes" wasn't resolved within the span of one chapter. John is described as "hot-blooded" but the most exciting thing he does is ride a motorcycle. Kirk uses third person omniscient point of view, and I wish she'd let readers into John's head a bit more.  My favorite character in the book was Amity, the "wild child" who ends up dating Hope's minister.  I'd like to read a spin off about odd couple Pastor Dan and Amity trying to make things work!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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