Title: The Mistletoe Effect
Author: Cate Ashwood
Length: 116 Pages
Category: Holiday Romance, Contemporary
At a Glance: This book just had such a great feel to it. From the cute, Colorado mountain town, to the sexy, swoony guys, the possibility of love-at-first-sight, and the joy of fresh, new beginnings, I loved it.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Although Christmas is his favorite time of year, all is not merry and bright for Danny Ellis. After being laid off and facing eviction, he’s eager to make a fresh start. When a friend mentions an opportunity in Sin City, he packs up and heads west. Unfortunately, plans run awry when his truck breaks down a little more than halfway there and he’s stranded in the cold with no money, nowhere to stay, and no way to get to Vegas.
‘Tis the season, but not for Merrick Holland, who loves being a part of the community in the small town of Rowley Bridge. Christmas has been a little tainted since his father died three years ago, and when people start to deck the halls, he withdraws. When Merrick finds a man asleep inside his bakery one morning, rather than call the police, Merrick makes him a cup of coffee, and after hearing his story offers him a job and a place to stay.
The two men strike up an unlikely friendship, but with Christmas only three weeks away, could a little holiday magic bring them together?
Review: It’s still pretty early in December, and I have quite a few holiday books to go, but I feel like I can say fairly confidently that The Mistletoe Effect is going to end up being one of my favorite Christmas stories this year. I don’t know about you guys, but I sort of judge my Christmas reads on a different scale than I do other books. Normally I like my books to have some drama, some angst; I like a juicy conflict, and some high-stakes situations as much as the next girl. But, in my holiday reads I’m typically looking for something different. I want to feel good. I want holiday magic. I want a well-written tale that will get or keep me in the Christmas spirit. Cate Ashwood’s new story, The Mistletoe Effect, accomplished all of that. In fact, I set my Kindle down about an hour ago now, and I am still smiling—and still thinking about Danny and Merrick.
When Danny’s truck breaks down at about the halfway point in his journey from Jackson, Michigan to start a new life in Las Vegas, he is so tired, so hungry, and so just over it, that he doesn’t know what to do. He does know that he needs to get out of the late-night cold, and somehow get some food, so he gets out of his truck—which he’s had parked in an alley so he could sneak a few Zs—and follows his nose to a nearby bakery. Of course, he doesn’t know how much a stolen tray of gingerbread cookies and falling asleep in the little shop are going to change his life. When Merrick, the owner of the bakery, discovers Danny there, instead of calling the cops, he decides to feed him and put him to work.
Danny is such a good guy. He’s sweet, rambles when he’s nervous, has never been in trouble—he would probably not have had the guts to go into the bakery if the door hadn’t been unlocked—and is very introspective and thoughtful about most things. As nice as Danny is though, Merrick gives him some stiff competition in the ‘good guy’ department. Merrick not only offers Danny a job and food, but also gives him a place to stay. The arrangement is platonic at first, of course, but it doesn’t take long for their mutual attraction to be discovered. I loved the scene where, after realizing that Merrick has no Christmas decorations in either the bakery or his home, Danny decides to surprise him by creating some holiday spirit at the shop (hint: this is also where the mistletoe comes into play). This bit, when Danny gets back from secretly setting everything up, cracked me up:
“Merrick noticed besides the snow that dusted Danny’s shoulders and head, there were also pine needles in his hair…and was that glitter on his cheek? More than ever, Merrick wanted to know where he’d been. The evidence pointed to a pop-up strip club in the woods, but even that was a little too far-fetched.”
There was so much to love about both of these guys… When Merrick discovers that Danny has amazing artistic talent, after seeing the beautiful designs he creates on cookies, and he totally tries to encourage Danny to follow that dream and go back to art school. How much Danny loves the town of Rowley Bridge and the stability and safety he feels there, with Merrick. How easygoing and natural they are together—their chemistry was fantastic. But mostly, how Danny, without even realizing it, made Christmas new again for Merrick.
“You gave me Christmas back. I was dreading this day. I dread it every year, but there you were, breaking and entering and turning my whole world upside down. You did this. Look around. You did all of this. I’m happy today, because of you.”
This book just had such a great feel to it. From the cute, Colorado mountain town, to the sexy, swoony guys, the possibility of love-at-first-sight, and the joy of fresh, new beginnings, I loved it. It’s been too long since I’ve read Cate Ashwood. I’m so very glad she wrote this sweet story to remind me what I’ve been missing. Thanks for the wonderful, cozy Christmas read!
You can buy The Mistletoe Effect here: