Books,  Christmas,  Holidays

Mini Reviews #21: Christmas feeling down

Sometimes, Christmas can be a bit of a let down. Whether that be because your plans didn’t go through, because there’s unforeseen circumstances or some type of external source of disruption (*cough* the current situation *cough*)… And if that’s you, and you really want some comfort in knowing you’re not alone? Well – here’s some more people who’re starting their Christmas feeling down…

I was offered an ARC by Book Sirens in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.

Mistletoe at the Manor: 2/5

The story

Can Beth learn to open her heart this Christmas…?

Between setting up her boutique and raising her six-year-old son, single mum Beth Sterling has little time for romance.

Keen to expand her clientele, Beth moves her business into a cosy converted stable on the scenic Trenouth Estate.

However, her focus soon wavers when she meets Tristan Trenouth, the handsome but aloof owner of the estate. Each wilful and outspoken, Beth and Tristan are soon clashing whenever they cross paths.

With the estate’s charity ball and Christmas fayre on the horizon, the two grudgingly put their differences aside and agree to work together. And as they spend more and more time in each other’s company, their uneasy truce blossoms into a strong mutual attraction.

But with a young son, a fledgling business and a painful past to contend with, Beth needs someone she can rely on. And Tristan has demons of his own to face…

Can Beth get her boutique up and running in time for Christmas? Will she and Tristan find happiness together?

Or will the shadows of the past drive them apart…? (Goodreads, TheStoryGraph)

My opinion

Sometimes, even though you really want to like a book, it’s just not happening. In the case of Christmas at the Manor, that was exactly what happened. While I enjoyed the plot, this book proved yet again that “show don’t tell” isn’t just a pretty phrase. So many elements seemed to be pushed in your face, especially in the first half of the story, that it was quite a struggle to even continue reading.

Combined with the constant mood shifts – I don’t think I’ve seen people go from “he loves me, I love him not” that quickly since I was in high-school… Well, at least it was really Christmassy, but that was honestly the only thing I’m happy about, having read this book…

Christmas in Evergreen: Bells are Ringing: 3/5

The story

Life is going great for Hannah, really. She’s fallen in love with her best friend, her brother is getting married, and she’s looking forward to another festive Christmas in Evergreen.  Still, between her job, taking charge of the choir, and being the town’s jill-of-all-trades, she’s feeling uninspired…especially when Elliot starts to question his own role in the town.

Hannah finds fresh inspiration in the brand-new Evergreen Christmas Museum, and she volunteers for their storytelling project. When she interviews her fellow Evergreenians, however, she learns that not everyone wants the museum around; specifically Mr. Cooper who owns a third of the building. As Hannah finds herself with more and more responsibilities, and as her relationships with Elliot and her family grow strained, she starts to wonder about what she really wants. Can her love and newly-found purpose survive the changes that loom after the holidays are over? (Goodreads, TheStoryGraph)

My opinion

I have to admit, there’s a chance I did this one to myself. Last year, I got the chance to read the previous part in the Christmas in Evergreen series, and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t quite love it, you know. At that point, I even mentioned “so cliches and over the top romance are basically guaranteed. (Hannah and Elliot, I’m looking at you).” So, knowing this book zoomed in on exactly those characters… Well, you know – I was hopeful, but cautious.

Turns out that the level of “movie-likeness” was, somehow, even more elevated in this book. While that did lead to even more of a holiday-spirit, it also resulted in quite a few “random” scenes that didn’t really seem linked to the story as a whole, but I could absolutely imagine as being part of a movie-montage. Somehow, though, that didn’t annoy me as much as I thought it would – which sounds like a really negative thing, I realise, but it’s honestly not. It’s just that I was kind of anticipating a more negative experience because of that? As a whole, though, this story pleasantly surprised me – and it lent itself to a pretty nice reading experience!

For once, I’m actually posting my reviews as I read them because, well – time management issues. And I’ve got to say: these two being my first holiday reads of the season? I’m honestly quite alright with that! What are you reading this holiday season? Be sure to let me know below!