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Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

Kissing Under the Mistletoe - Marina Adair his book had me scratching my head.

Regan Martin had the bad misfortune at the age of 19 to fall in love with a smooth talking man who was already married. She did not know this and was as much a victim of his perfidy as his wife. Except the wife has a large and loving family who will do anything to protect her. Since the cheating husband has taken a powder and disappeared to parts unknown, all the considerable ire of the vengeance seeking clan falls on the head of the hapless Regan.

The book picks up six years later. Regan, who happens to work in the same industry as the DeLuca family (the family of the wronged wife) has found herself blackballed and unable to find a job. Every time she gets an interview, the oldest DeLuca brother Gabe somehow manages to get to the prospective employer and poor Regan finds herself without prospects again.

However Regan finally gets a break. She gets a job at a small start-up winery in Napa valley and it includes a place to live. This couldn't have come at a better time because Regan is down to the fumes of her savings account and it is Christmas season. She has a young daughter (she was pregnant with married-cheater's child when he took off) who she wants to make this the best Christmas ever. Except, Gabe DeLuca has caught up with her again.

The reason this book has me scratching my head was because I was not sure what tone this author intended to take. On the one hand it sometimes plays out like a sexy comedy. Regan and Gabe spar and twinkle and flirt throughout. They sometimes seem like they are simply playing a fun game of sexy one-upmanship. There are also wacky hijinks involving a reindeer and three busybody old ladies.

Yet at other times, Regan is in the pits of despair. She has been prevented from holding a meaningful job for 6 years through the whims of one vengeful family. Through dialogue and exposition we learn that she and her daughter have lived in a succession of not-very-nice apartments, she has very little money left and is feeling incredibly demoralized. Having been unceremoniously tossed out this job (and home) which she thought was finally going to give her a measure of security, she ends up working as a hotel maid briefly. This is untenable to her because as the daughter of a Mexican illegal immigrant, Regan had been determined not to have the same menial jobs her mother had when she was growing up. And yet, here she was..a maid.

So yeah, there was a bit of cognitive dissonance there. At times the story was engaging and even funny. However, I simply could not resolve how Regan could be feeling any attraction to Gabe considering he had pretty much messed up her livelihood for six years.

To the author's credit, she doesn't make Gabe a total asshat. Once he realizes that his unrelenting campaign has impacted the life of a child (he did not know she had a daughter) he begins to question his actions and tries to make amends. The story does get better once he realizes this, but I had already been so soured on what I felt was such willfully unfair persecution that I couldn't really enjoy the romance between these two.

Another headscratcher is Regan herself. She was 19 when she had the affair and found out she was pregnant with her daughter, still a sophomore in college. And yet she is supposedly some whiz at Marketing at the ripe old age of 24. The job she gets is actually VP of Marketing. I was not convinced that she could have landed such a job considering that she had been denied job opportunities since the affair was discovered. I also kept getting knocked out of the story a bit whenever Regan mentioned her Mexican immigrant mother and her absentee French father because I would idly wonder where the heck the name 'Regan Martin' came from?

Not a bad book by any means. It was a quick read and I did not feel like I was slogging through it nor did I want to chuck it against the wall. But definitely not a winner for me.

This review was based on a copy of an ARC received via the Amazon Vine program