I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.The Matchmaker's Mistletoe Mission by Jaci Burton
Series: Boots and Bouquets #0.5
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Holiday
Published by Penguin on October 15, 2019
Format: eARC (154 pages) • Source: Publisher
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
New York Times bestselling author Jaci Burton celebrates the gift of love and the holiday season with a snowy Christmas wedding at the Bellini family vineyard. Stranded at the Red Moss Vineyard a week before her best friend's wedding, LA native and professional matchmaker Alice Weatherford is not pleased with her first trip to Oklahoma, or the epic snowstorm forcing her to stay. So much for Christmas cheer. What she needs is a project, something to distract her...and, oh, has she found one in neighboring rancher Clay Henry. Gorgeous, charming, and unlike any other man she's ever met, finding the right woman for Clay should be easy....
Having grown up with the Bellini sisters, it's no hardship for Clay to ride out the storm at their cozy family vineyard, especially since that means spending time with their savvy and smart houseguest. But despite Alice’s best efforts, he's not the least bit interested in her matchmaking....
Alice is the only woman Clay wants. Now he just has to convince the matchmaker herself to give love a chance.
I was excited when I got approved for this holiday novella and first “book” in the Boots and Bouquets series. It seems like these books will center around the Bellini family’s winery (Red Moss Vineyard), where the entire family hosts weddings and – obviously – makes some wine! There are a number of siblings and parents who work there, so this novella did a good job of setting the stage for the series and introducing the characters. Aside from that, Alice meets Clay (the rancher next door) when they’re forced to sleep over the vineyard. They have some instant chemistry but she still pushes the idea of utilizing her matchmaking service on him.
They end up spending more time together and boy did this get steamy for such a short little book! I love when I can FEEL the chemistry between the characters in such a short book. Very strong instalove here but it is what it is. Some things were too convenient, like how his house was EXACTLY like the house she’d always wanted??
Wintery Setting & Holiday Feels
The main reason that Alice is stuck at the Bellini vineyard is because of a major unexpected snowstorm, which certainly added to the winter vibes of this one. It takes place in December because her friends’ wedding is an OUTDOOR ceremony then (yikes). Being snowed in with a potential romantic partner is one of my favorite holiday book tropes! There were some good Christmas decor moments and the snowiness was nice, but nothing crazy from a holiday perspective because it was before Christmas.
I really enjoyed this steamy lil novella! Frankly, my plan to read this before Thanksgiving would have been perfect – it has just a touch of the holidays through decorating for Christmas and being snowed in, but nothing majorly holiday-ish. This would be the perfect quick read to get into right before December. I’ll also say that this book makes me REALLY excited for the rest of the series, which is an excellent sign.
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Holiday
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 1, 2019
Format: Audio/eBook (336 pages) • Source: Scribd, Hoopla
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.
Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.
When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.
This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever... or is it?
I was so excited to see that this was the group book for Tis-the-Season-a-thon! I’d been wanting to read it for months – obviously planning to wait until December – and this was the best excuse to read it. I knew most of my holiday books this year would be review copies and this was one of a few non-ARCs. Anyways! All of the good reviews for this one got me really excited to read it.
When Sophie goes to her Nonna’s house for the holidays after her breakup, she encounters (as usual) her entire huge family. They try to set her up on ten blind dates that begin before Christmas and end on New Years Eve, with each family member having their own date to plan and person to invite along. She has some success in meeting a couple of nice guys, as well as some that are more on the friend side… or not anywhere near friend OR boyfriend material! It was really fun to see how her family came up with the date ideas and the boys. Because she had so many family members, it was a little hard to remember who was who sometimes, but I got the hang of it. At the same time that all of this is going on, her pregnant sister and parents are 3-4 hours away dealing with an unexpected hiccup in the birth of her child. It brought a bit more of a serious element that I didn’t expect or enjoy that much, to be honest.
I pointed out VERY early on in my reading that I had a good feeling I knew *exactly* how the book was going to end and I was kind of right. Regardless of the general predictability of the whole thing, it was pretty great and SUCH an enjoyable ride!
Wintery Setting & Holiday Feels
The story takes place right around the Christmas holidays, as the main character heads to her grandparents’ house (post-breakup) for celebrations. There were some really nice holiday scenes that involved a few of the dates (holiday light shows, a live nativity scene, etc.) and ones at her Nonna’s house. A lot of holiday cheer, some good Christmas morning scenes, etc. — but honestly not as much as I would have liked for some reason? There’s also a chapter involving New Years, so it really covers that whole segment of December.
The audiobook was pretty good but I didn’t love the narrator sometimes. She did an okay job but made the main character feel too whiny or young at times, when the story didn’t read that way usually. The heavier elements involving her sister and the baby were well-integrated and gave a reason for Sophie’s parents to be away (from a plot perspective) but were a little too much for what I thought was going to be a light holiday novel. Overall though, I really loved this one. The family feels were strong, the friendships were great, the romance was lovely.