Review: Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne

Friday, December 11, 2015
Title: Mistletoe and Mr. Right: Two Stories of Holiday Romance
Author: Lyla Payne
Genre: New Adult
Series: none
Pages: 368
Published: November 20th, 2014
Source: borrowed library
Rating: 4/5

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!

Mistletoe and Mr. Right - 3.5 stars

Jessica, a straight-laced journalism student with an airtight ten year plan, follows her boyfriend of four months back to his tiny Irish town for Christmas. Brennan, rather than being delighted by her surprise, seems more interested in hanging out with his ex-girlfriend and drinking at the local pub. The family finds Jessica abrasive, and worse, Scottish. Not to mention the fact that she ran over their goat.

At the end of every one of Jessica's attempts to win over the family is Grady, their smart-mouthed farm hand. His chemistry with Jessica is far more palpable than her's with Brennan, which makes the eventual ending pretty clear.

Jessica's scrapes are squirmy and embarrassing rather than funny and most of them don't stand up to scrutiny. Anaphylaxis does not happen hours after you eat nutmeg, certainly not to the extent that you'd need an epi-pen. (Which you should then go to the hospital after using, not go home and go to bed?) And if Brennan's father was SO allergic, why would Grady buy the spice for Jessica? He lives and eats with the family, this is a thing he would know. Likewise, the breakdown over an (unused) pregnancy test is bizarre. A misunderstanding leads Brennan's ex to think Jessica might be pregnant, but she lashes out at the wrong person and claims it's a cruel joke to play considering her situation. I found it a very odd scene and there could have been a more reasonable way to reveal Katie's secret.

Still, I did like the hero and heroine and how they ended up together. The sleigh scene is very cute and gave me the appropriately fluffy Christmas feelings. I didn't dislike the story, just wish it had come together in a bit neater way.

Sleigh Bells and Second Chances - 4 stars

The second novella picks up a year later, with a much more relaxed Jessie visiting her beau in Ireland while her roommate, Chris, pursues a great internship opportunity in London. Chris is in PR and her boss has assigned her to a week of babysitting the hottest band on the planet so their usual PR rep can go home for the holidays. Only problem? Chris and the lead singer, Cary, have history.

I thought this story was far better than the first. It was less predictable and Chris' tragic backstory was woven in more seamlessly than Jess'. Mistletoe is also as spicy as a bell pepper compared to Sleigh Bells' jalapeno. I liked Chris' family dynamic and the fact that not everything revolved around the romance. I liked seeing a newly relaxed Jessica show up to support her.

That doesn't mean it's perfect. The last minute big mis was a big miss. It combined one too many elements and the bitchy best friend revealing seeeeecrets isn't particularly interesting, especially when he has a change of heart two chapters later. I really could have done without the jealous girl fighting from Violet as well.

Still, the two novellas combined for a nice New Adult Christmas story that I enjoyed.

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