Review: A Mistletoe Kiss by Jennifer Faye

May Contain Spoilers

Jennifer Faye is an author I’ve read and enjoyed in the past, so I was looking forward to A Mistletoe Kiss.  While not a complete winner for me, it is a feel good holiday romance, so it’s a perfect title to cuddle up with during the frigid temps we have been experiencing.

Suzanna has decided to have a low-key Christmas. She’s recently broken up with her boyfriend, and she’s just not in the mood for joyous festivities. When she meets her handsome new neighbor, and his big, scary-to-her dog, Suzanna is surprised to feel a tingle of attraction for Jake. After being left at the altar two years ago, and after her recent break-up, she’s given up on finding Mr. Right. When her parents unexpectedly arrive in town, Jake surprises both of them by pretending to be her boyfriend. Can she keep her feelings out of this fake relationship?

I had two major issues with this romance, and I admit, they are strictly my issues. The first is Suzanna’s fear of Jake’s emotional support dog, Rufus. I totally understand being afraid of dogs, especially if you had a bad experience with them, and Rufus is a huge dufus, so I’ll cut Suzanna a little bit of slack there. But if you are going to have a relationship with a guy who needs his emotional support dog, you can’t constantly force him to leave the pup at home. I felt bad for poor Rufus. Suzanna misjudged him from the beginning, and it took until the end of the story for her finally give him a chance. He didn’t even do anything bad at their first meeting, just used a sign that she didn’t even like for a scent marker.

The other issue was the need for the charade in the first place. Suzanna has had two boyfriends, and because of the failed relationships, she is the town’s romantic failure. The guy who left her at the altar is a jerk, so she dodged a bullet there, and the other guy just packed up and left town to pursue a job opportunity, so they were obviously not on the same wave-length there, either. All the better for Jake to zoom in and sweep Suzanna off her feet.

Jake caused a few more headaches for himself than necessary, too. Instead of just seeing where things went with Suzanna, he has already made up his mind that he isn’t the kind of guy to settle down. Abandoned by his mother and raised by his emotionally distant grandparents, he doesn’t do Christmas either. He’s also suffering from PTSD after a mission ended badly overseas, and his military career came to a pre-mature end.

I would define a lot of the interactions between Jake and Suzanna as awkward. Neither of them really knows how to act, so their encounters at first are painfully clumsy. I despaired at them ever finding common ground, and then, suddenly, they found their footing. At least until Jake got cold feet and thought it was time to move on again.

It did take some patience to get behind the romance, but in the end, both Suzanna and Jake left their fears and worries behind and realized it was worth it to invest in each other. This is a quick, light read with a very satisfying conclusion.

Grade: 3.25 stars

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

Jaded by love, Suzanna Simms has resigned herself to focusing on her art business. But with Christmas quickly approaching, she receives word that her family is returning to Marietta. And Suzanna failed to mention that her latest relationship had ended abruptly. Now she’ll have to admit to her family that she failed at love—again.
Enter Sergeant Jake Hamilton, a new resident to Marietta and Suzanna’s next door neighbor. He’s not looking for anything permanent, he’s just passing through Marietta for the Christmas season, hoping to keep to himself. But when Suzanna’s family mistakenly assumes that Jake’s her boyfriend, he agrees to continue the charade.
Suzanna is certain she’s immune to his rugged good looks and sexy smile until they find themselves standing under the mistletoe. When Jake finds her kiss sweeter than her sugar cookies, he knows he’s in trouble. But it’s too late by then… the Christmas charade is on.