Mutts and Mistletoe by Natalie Cox- a 5/5 Star review!

Charlie’s least favorite time of the year, the holidays, is the worst it could possibly be this year. Not only did her long-time boyfriend cheat on her, but her apartment is destroyed and she has a concussion as a result of it. Her cousin, Jez, needs Charlie as much as Charlie needs a place to stay peacefully to eat as much chocolate in front of the tv. Jez runs Cozy Canine Cottage, a dog boarding place, out of her country home on several acres in the country. Jez needs someone to look after the dogs while she jets off to the Arctic, Charlie needs a place to stay, sounds like an easy trade. There’s just one teensy, tiny problem: Charlie is a city girl who hates dogs as much as she hates the holidays.

I was at my local library on the hunt for a fun holiday romance book when I came across a recommendation from one of my favorite authors, Sophie Kinsella (see reviews: #1  & #2 ), for this book. I figured, she knew what she was talking about when it came to fun romances as I am a big fan of hers. I was right. Mutts and Mistletoe is a funny romance that will warm a reader from the inside out. Many times I audibly gasped followed by a “Noooo!” or I laughed out loud. It is an engaging storyline with a lovable yet mischievous main character that seems to attract disaster wherever she goes. I loved the tumultuous way in which the relationship between her and Cal, the veterinarian who seems to be opposite of her in every way, grew. This is further complicated when another love interest wedges his way into the house crammed with a growing number of friends of all species.

My favorite interaction was on page 233:

“What do you know about alpacas?” Hugo asks Cal in a jaunty tone.

“They make great sweaters,” says Cal stonily.

It was tough to choose my favorite character in this book as there are several great choices. My top three were: Cal, Charlie’s father, and Malcom-the great dane. Charlie’s father was very reasonable, open-minded, and optimistic-much like my own father- which was endearing and seemed to be very good at stabilizing Charlie. In the end, Cal won my heart as I am sure he will warm the hearts of many other readers, as will all of the animals in this book. Natalie Cox did a wonderful job of assigning each animal with distinctive personalities. She also created a fun winter wonderland in a remote location with situations that would be ridiculous outside of this plot. Furthermore, the vocabulary in the writing is exquisite. There were many times that I had to put the book down to look up words such as “munificence” and “rictus” or I resorted to consulting with my logophile friends.

I would recommend this book to adult readers looking for a fun holiday romance. I would also recommend this book for animal lovers, particularly of dogs, wolves, and alpacas. Fans of the English countryside, or small towns in general, and of winter snow will also enjoy this book. There were only suggestions of sexual scenarios and there is a big scene of birthing puppies which is why I did not recommend it for an audience younger than adults. I do not remember any foul language or violence but that is not to say that there was not any in the book. If there was, it was not enough to stick out in my mind.

 

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The Christmas Cottage (Ever After) by Samantha Chase-3/5 Star Review

Ava and Mason are getting married. This alone is cause for some family stress, but when it’s a Callahan that’s getting married, it has to be a huge event. Fortunately for Ava, her best friend Lacey is her maid of honor.

Lacey Quinn has been best friends with Ava since childhood and in love with her older brother, Ean, since then too. She has been equipped with an extremely detailed binder of instructions to get the cottage ready for Ava and Mason’s honeymoon. Every detail was specified in the giant book, except the minor detail that Ean would be coming home early from out of state and hoped to stay at the cabin before getting together with his family.

When they meet again, accidents happen, a bad snowstorm rolls in, and they both have to decide how to go about their feelings while setting up the cottage.

The story was easy to relate to when Ava and Lacey’s opposite personalities clashed. Ava’s personality in particular was one that I have met in real life a few times. A person so desperate for the romantic fantasy of love that they overlook the red flags along the way. I wanted to like her, since she was the main character’s best friend, but I found her to be exhausting and immature.

A lot of it was over the top, although it may have felt more so because of the overuse of exclamation marks. It was predictable and rather impractical, but despite these things it was also a cute and quick holiday read.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was provided for free from Sourcebooks Casablanca via daily e-mails containing excerpts. You can sign up for these e-mails by going to http://books.sourcebooks.com/casablanca-stay-in-touch/ and clicking on the Free Romance Reads Daily Email.