Review by Kayleigh

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Series Name: Mistletoe Romance, #2

As a teen, she’d thought he was scrawny under his baggy sweatshirts and then she’d watched him lift tree after tree with ease. His hooded dark eyes staring into hers as he listened, hardly saying a word, but when he did, it was a surprisingly deep timbre. She’d imagined him saying her name with that low register, but instead, he’d kept his distance and she’d moved on.

When he’d given her that very real smile this afternoon, the first one she’d seen from him since they were teens, it knocked the wind right out of her. Clark was hot. All dark eyed and outdoorsy, with hair you could get a grip on when you kissed him.

This is a sweet and breezy read that will have you singing Christmas carols. 

Merry Winters is going to need a whole lot of Christmas cheer to make up for the disaster of a year she’s had. Rather than sulk, she decides to funnel all her frustrations into preparing for the most wonderful (and busiest) time of year at the Winters’ Christmas Tree Farm. Although her family isn’t ready to hand over the reins yet, Merry is determined to prove herself as manager material, and a certain flirty outdoorsman on her dating app has been giving her just the confidence to do so.

What Merry doesn’t know is that she’s been chatting anonymously with the farm’s new foreman, Clark Griffin. The single dad has kept himself out of the dating pool ever since his son’s mother left; but the more Merry dedicates herself to the farm, the more Clark falls for her generous heart and jolly spirit.

As Clark and Merry catch feelings both online and off, their romantic potential dangles in front of their noses like mistletoe. Love is within their reach, if only they’re brave enough to take the first step.

This is a classic hallmark story with a bit more steam! The second in the Winter’s siblings Christmas romance series, the first was Nick and Noel’s Christmas Playlist but this can still be enjoyed without reading the first one. Nick and Noel become secondary characters in Merry’s story.

This story follows Merry and Clark, who knew each other back in highschool. They both went away for college and have since returned with failed relationships under their belts. Merry has moved back home to her parent’s Christmas tree farm where Clark has been hired on as the new foreman. While Merry is charmed by his young son, Jace, she’s not sure she wants to work on melting Clark’s icy exterior. 

Clark had a mad crush on Merry back in high school but thought she was too popular for him and a little flakey. While they dance around each other in person (the book is told in alternating chapters from their perspectives), little do they know that they are actually talking to each other online with a dating app. When they finally connect in real life the fun really starts. Clark has built up walls around his heart that he struggles to take down. While Merry, at only 25, has had a string of failed romances. Is she ready for a package deal of Clark and his son? Their chemistry is palpable, but at the heart of the story is the themes of trust and forgiveness. 

Clark and Merry are very sweet together. Merry seems so pure and beloved she’s almost like a freaking Disney princess. She has a spine though, which saves her from feeling stereotypical. Clark is a lovely cinnamon roll of a man. I’m really glad we got to see her point of view in the book – it helped flesh out his emotions and character. I think he would have felt flat if we didn’t get to see his motivation. For the most part Merry and Clark’s blossoming love affair is sweet and slow. It’s almost a little like a treacle at times, but there are some surprising steamy scenes that did catch me off guard in the story – hello road head! I actually liked it because it made the relationship feel more human with heat and passion, and a little less like a squeaky clean made for TV Christmas movie. Clark and Merry have real world problems and concerns about the impact of their relationship on the people around them. Clark works for Merry’s fabulous dad. Clark has a young son who gets really attached to Merry. Merry is still trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. As they join forces and their relationship develops you really see the two of them support and encourage each other.

While Clark and Merry are the stars of the show, there is an incredible cast of secondary characters from loveable dogs to eccentric small town residents. But Merry’s family really stands out as a strong and stable dynamic that leapt from the pages. Merry’s mom, Victoria, reminded me of my own mom: loyal to her family, hardworking, but always down for a glass of wine and a good laugh. And I would happily hang out with her father, Chris. He loves his family so much but also wants them to grow on their own. Merry has two tight siblings whom she loves a lot: they don’t put her up on a pedestal but they are there to support her and stand up for her. And finally, even though Clark didn’t have the most loving parents growing up and is now estranged from them, he has an older brother Sam. Sam returns to live with Clark part way through the book and is the motorcycle tattoo-artist bad boy that a lot of girls dream of. He was the perfect foil to Clark’s goodness, but it was also clear that they love each other a lot. 

All in all this is a delightful Christmas book that features hand crocheted penises, a Christmas festival and some rogue hens. 

Thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.