November 2008, Series Romance
Harl Romance #4062, $3.99, 192 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373175523
I was excited to read Christmas Wishes, Mistletoe Kisses because 1) it has a Christmas theme, a feature I often enjoy and 2) I really enjoyed the last book I read by Fiona Harper, English Lord, Ordinary Lady. Unfortunately, I found that this offering was not quite what I'd hoped. It's not that there was anything wrong with it, really; more that it was bland.
Louise Thornton is a newly single mom (and former model) who has just divorced her famous movie-star husband. She buys an estate in the country that was once owned by a flamboyant movie star, hoping that she and her son Jack can enjoy a quiet life away from the spotlight. Very soon after moving in, she meets Ben Oliver whom she accuses of trespassing - before she finds out that he has been doing gardening work as a favor to the former owner. Despite an awkward beginning, Ben and Louise discover that they have some things in common. Ben is also a single parent; his wife left him so she could find herself. He owns a landscape architecture business, and dabbles in gardening for fun. He agrees to stay on and help Louise. As they get to know each other, their attraction increases. But neither is sure about a potential relationship. Ben feels that a former model is seriously beyond his reach. Louise isn't sure that she is ready for another relationship, or that she is even deserving of love.
Of course, as they spend time together, these concerns diminish. Their children get along, and everyone has a good time. But will their annoying spouses prevent them from taking their relationship to the next level?
And here we come to the crux of the problem. I've typed a couple of short paragraphs, and I can think of nothing more to say about this book or these people. That's really all there is.
There is nothing particularly objectionable about these two. They are both so nice that you pretty much have to like them. They are great parents, and they do everything civilized divorced people are supposed to do. They like Guy Fawkes Day fireworks and curry on Christmas Eve. They make each other tea.
The problem is that like many super-nice people, they are not particularly interesting. They'd make great neighbors, but boring dinner companions. And their romantic Christmas? It's not really anything to write home about. Engaging characters just need something more than these two have - something that keeps you turning pages. The characters in English Lord, Ordinary Lady had that in spades, which made this book all the more disappointing. I certainly wouldn't go so far as to warn anyone away, because this book wasn't bad. But it wasn't interesting either.
-- Blythe Barnhill
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