Member Reviews

From the title and the cover, I was expecting a cutesy hallmark romance, and that was not this book. Due to the illusion, I did suffer slight disappointment because I am a mood reader... and was in the mood for a fluffy christmas romance. That being said, Nory was also annoying... lol. I really liked Isaac and thought he was kind and endearing.

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I've absolutely adored some Jenny Bayliss books in the past, and was excited to pick this up. This is a cozy holiday romance felt less like a cozy romance and more like women's fiction that just so happens to be set around the holidays.

I usually am all for a romance book that covers deeper topics, but this one felt misleading. The romance was an after thought, and personally, I found Nory to be a bit insufferable.

This unfortunately did not hold the same charm as the Twelve Dates of Christmas did for me. Definitely disappointing, but probably won't stop me from picking up her next holiday story.

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Although this book had its moments I just couldn't really get into it. I was really looking for a holiday read and I didn't get much of that from this book. It was cute. I honestly probably would have liked it better if I read it during a different time of the year.

Thank you to Netgalley for my ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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1/4 stars :(
Definitely not enough Christmas for something with the title of the book! The writing was bland, the pacing was slow, I didn't really care for any of the characters, and the MC's constant defense of her stupid friends who hurt her love interest was awful!

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Thanks to Netgalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam for the E-ARC. This was such a good solid read. I loved that more than a "love story" btw 2 people it was a love story btw friends and the dynamic when mixed with a romantic relationship. It does talk about heavy subjects but very respectfully and very empathetic.

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This was a cute Christmas-y school reunion romance, but it just felt longer than necessary (When they were happy and together but there was still 2 hours left in the audiobook I was a tad confused). Overall I liked the book, but I wasn't obsessed or majorly invested in the characters love story unfortunately, it was just a sweet romance and a whole lot of character dramas (maybe also because it was just a single POV).

💙Brother's Best Friend
💙Second Chance (ish) Romance

3.5⭐, 1🌶️(closed door romance)

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for an eARC of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, written by Jenny Bayliss. This is my honest and unpaid review!

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Nory is in for an emotionally complicated few days when two of her oldest friends invite their whole gang to spend the time leading up to their wedding together at the castle near their old private school and her working-class town. When she falls quite literally into the arms of Isaac, the castle’s head gardener, who has nothing but contempt for the "snobby prep school kids," the attraction between them is undeniable.

I really enjoyed this - I’d say it lands more toward the women’s fiction side of the romance spectrum. The romance was a sweet part of the story, but Nory’s relationships with her friends and her family also plays a large part. The audiobook was great!

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A perfectly charming holiday romcom, perfect for bookworms who dream of their high school reunions being a meet cute waiting to happen.

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I wanted to like this book so much, but for me it just didn't stop dragging. I've read other books by Jenny Bayliss and loved them, so I was disappointed when this one fell flat for me. I loved the cozy vibes of the book but for me there was just too many side characters and there were too many heavy topics for it to be a cute cozy Christmas read for me.

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3.5 stars

The characters were great. I loved the close knit group of friends and I wish I had this friend group in real life, I enjoyed reading their connection with one another and their long history together. When I get with my closest friends it’s like we were never apart and this how they were written.

I think the romance itself felt like a side story and should have had more focus. The female MC was written to be a book lover, but outside of mentioning her store it isn’t a focus. I feel like this part of it could have been written a little better because she mentions relationships not working out because her partner didn’t like books.

Over all I thought it was ok. I was more invested in the friendship than the love interest.

I do love this author and will continue to read her books.

This book mentions suicide of a friend.

Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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In 2022, I had a stack of Christmas books that I saved to read between Thanksgiving and the end of December. I saved one too many and I unfortunately did not get to read Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. I was determined to read it this year and on New Year's Eve, I finished the novel!

It is an enjoyable read. I really liked the characters. They are a bit eccentric but not over the top to seem ridiculous. I wouldn't mind seeing them again in a future book. Though Meet Me under the Mistletoe is a complete, stand alone novel.

The setting is perfect for Christmas - a castle in a small village in the English countryside. I love it when gardens are featured in a book.

This is a romance novel so there was the inevitable stumbling block that breaks up the couple. I knew what that obstacle would be, but it happens so late in the novel that I almost thought it wouldn't happen. Because it did happen so late in the novel, it is short-lived thankfully.

While it is set at Christmas, it isn't overall Christmasy. So you could read this any time of the year. If you are like me and missed it when it first time came out and aren't quite ready to say goodbye to the holidays, now would be a great time to pick up this book.

My review will be published at Girl Who Reads on Saturday -

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Nory is returning to her hometown for her private school friend's wedding. She'll be staying as a guest in the castle where her family sometimes works. It also bring Nory back into contact with the castle gardener who is her brother's friend and not a fan of her snobby friends.

There were a number of side characters I really liked, but there were a few who were awful and it felt like most of the book was just waiting in anticipation of when their awful behavior would mess everything up. When it finally happened at 80% through the book, I almost put the book down I was so frustrated and it was so obvious that Nory's plan would go completely wrong. I enjoyed other parts enough that I decided to just skip the chapter and push through, but it definitely affected my enjoyment of the book.

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Such a cute holiday read! It did start out a little slow for me but once the story started going, it was impossible to put down!

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This was an adorable book and perfect to read around Christmas! I love all Jenny Bayliss books and look forward to more.

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A group of friends comes together after a major loss to attend a wedding. The hash out old problems, find love and grow as a group. Lots of characters, lots of happy endings and lots of family make this holiday read a treasure.

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A sweet holiday story that meanders its way through. I took my time reading this book and I think I enjoyed it more that way. Nory is a darling character, and we really get to know her as she spends a week at a castle with her old school friends. We meet her family, who live in the village where the castle is, and we meet Isaac, the gardener, who becomes her love interest.

Some of her friend were amazing (Ameerah + Dev 😍) and some were awful. There were a lot of characters to keep up with, but I thought they were distinctive enough that it wasn’t a problem.

The setting was a dream. I especially loved the bookshop, but the castle in the English countryside was nice too. 😆 Jenny Bayliss is a master of the sweet holiday read, and I’ll continue to read whatever she writes! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-copy!

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Thank you #Netgalley for this copy!

A fun holiday read focusing on a bookshop owner, Nory, who travels back home for a classmates wedding. Instead of her normal small town quaint living, she is staying at the town mansion to spend time with her friends prior to the wedding. Of course bringing an old group of friends together can bring up mixed feelings, especially when alcohol is involved. While in town Nory also connects with an old friend Isaac who actually works at the property. In this holiday romance, we watch as Nory navigates her old friends and her current life and where she actually fits in.

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This is a cozy, cute romance with a wonderful setting! Elinor Noel—“Nory” runs a secondhand bookshop in London. She attended an upscale private school on scholarship and goes back to stay in the castle on campus for a wedding.
The reunion requires Nory to avoid an ex who neglected to tell her she was married and also allows her to get reacquainted with Isaac, the gardener. I had trouble keeping up with the characters and I felt like the story could have been a little shorter. It was a sweet one though!
I just reviewed Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss. #MeetMeUndertheMistletoe #NetGalley

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Jenny Bayliss’ books are so warm, enchanting, and festive. I adore her writing style and her characters!

I won’t have time to share a detailed review, but I know this is a great holiday choice for many readers.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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In Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Elinor (Nory) owns a secondhand bookshop where she struggles to part with her special finds. Even so, she loves matching each one with the perfect customer, knowing the books will be well-appreciated in their new homes. Nory was once the scholarship kid at boarding school, constantly feeling like she needed to prove herself to both her new private school peers and her working-class family and neighbors who hated what the school stood for. Now in her thirties, Nory is heading home for the upcoming nuptials of two of her boarding school friends. The gang drifted apart following graduation, but the loss of their friend Tristan to suicide made them prioritize staying in touch. A one-week stay in a castle leading up to the wedding makes Nory nervous even though she loves time with her friends. A one-night stand that never should have happened haunts her, especially since Guy will be at the castle with his wife-- the wife Nory didn't know about. The wife who might not know what happened. Plus, it's so easy to fall into old mindsets, mediating between the two parts of her life and contorting herself to fit in with either camp.

Luckily for poor Nory, her book shop and cat will be in good hands for her little holiday, and there's a surprise waiting for her at the castle. She has the opportunity to rekindle a teenage crush when it turns out Isaac has taken over as head gardener at the castle. Between managing drama with her friends, sneaking off to stargaze and admire flowers over a cup of tea with Isaac, and fending off her brother's attempts to prevent a relationship between his little sister and best friend, Nory has a full week ahead. It's a well-rounded story with a delightful cast of messy characters, which I enjoyed. Nory has complicated relationships with her friends which she likens to family bonds-- imperfect and with long histories but no less loving. The author handles the emotions and jokes that come with such committed, lived-in friendships with aplomb, striking a great balance between serious and light moments. In addition to the commentary on class that frequents the book, there's also a bit of conversation about race, especially as it pertains to a secret in Isaac's family history. I appreciated those aspects of the book and only wish that two Harry Potter references didn't sneak their way in as a way of framing the boarding school experience.

When it comes to the romance, it's a sweet, light-hearted affair between two homebodies who like quiet, nerdy hobbies. Aka I loved it, and there was still plenty of tension as they navigate the slightly forbidden nature of Isaac "fraternizing" with a guest and Nory's brother sticking his nose in where it's not wanted, sure that someone will end up heartbroken. It's a fade-to-black romance, but not in a way I found annoying. It fits the vibe of the book, emphasizing stolen kisses and moments.

Unfortunately, many of the things I was enjoying about the book came to a screeching halt in the final act breakup. It's extra horrific because of how well things were going up to that point. There's a lot of self-awareness and feelings talk only for Nory to ignore the express wishes of her partner in her crusade to be "helpful." And it's extra bad since she's a white woman meddling with something in Isaac's life that involves racism and privilege. If there was ever a time to listen instead of act on your assumptions, this is it. I had to put the book down for a minute I was so mad at a decision she makes. I can't get into the invasiveness of the transgressions in detail because ~spoilers~ but just know there are layers on layers of Nory's foolishness. Worse, Nory's friends and family are overly sympathetic, like "he should have listened to your explanation since your intentions were good." At least Nory has the sense not to buy into that nonsense, but it seems to come more from a sense of self-flagellation than reason. In the end, they ~both~ apologize which seems unfair, and Isaac insists she was indeed being helpful rather than overstepping. Which is some bullshit. In this case, the single POV was a hindrance because I think a dual POV romance inherently makes sure both characters have to actually own their mistakes and seek forgiveness whereas Nory just suffers the estrangement and is then welcomed back as if it was only a misunderstanding and not a misstep that deserves reparations and a shifted mindset to prevent repeat performances.

This is a sweet Christmastime romance with friendship, a castle, and personal growth. It centers the romance among multiple interesting plots and balances the many conflicting feelings life sends our way. Just know there's a protracted, messy final act breakup that's then wrapped up in a blink. So if that dynamic bothers you or you want something a bit spicier, this one might not be for you. Thanks to Putnam for my copy to read and review!

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