Cover Image: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

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Member Reviews

I very much enjoyed this book. I wouldn't say it's necessarily a Christmas book. It has a subtle festive feel - with mentions of holiday preparation, gatherings, and the gorgeous winter and castle setting - but it's definitely one that can be read at any time of the year.

It's a closed door romance that is a bit instalove, but there's still great chemistry between the two. And I loved that they communicated and didn't play games. But the romance is almost secondary to the personal growth, friendship, and evolving relationships explored in this book. There are a lot of side characters (but only one POV) and other sub plots that really make you feel like you are in this with the main character.

The book is light and fun at times. It has a bit of a rom-com feel and I laughed out loud on multiple occasions. I loved the book love (the main character is a used bookseller and is very attached to her treasures), the garden details (a family business and a castle with amazing gardens and grounds), and a few shenanigans (which are to be expected when old friends come together for a week).

But it's also surprisingly heavy on occasion (check the content warnings!). The relationships are complex and messy. There's history and hurts between the characters, and it comes across on the pages.

And I loved the complete British feel. The writing wasn't Americanized and I adored seeing the terms, phrases, and specific way of stating things, such as "Never have done," "half six," "go back to mine," and mentioning a car boot and bonnet. It added an authenticity to the characters and the London setting. I felt like I was there instead of just being told I was there, if that makes sense.

This book isn't what I was expecting. And there were a few things that felt a bit overplayed at times and maybe a bit forced - specifically some of the conversations about classism and "us vs them" thinking. But I really loved reading this book.

CW: suicide, infidelity, depression, alcohol abuse

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Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for this ARC in exchange for my honest review! I thought reading a Christmas book in September would be weird, but there was not a ton of Christmas in here! So if you want super Christmas-y, this may not be the one. That being said, I adored this book! I love books set in the English countryside and this one had such diversity within its characters as well! The relationships amongst this group of friends felt so real, it was refreshing. Friends drift apart and come together in real life so I loved this dynamic. Also, the bookshop! The bookshop was amazing, any book lover will love it! The castle setting and the gardens were pretty wonderful too, I did have to Google some of the flowers. I also loved the relationship between Isaac and Nory as well as Ameerah and Dev. While Nory frustrated me at times, their relationship made me smile. This book releases October 18, so pick it up for a feel good British rom-com set at a castle!

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Nory reluctantly leaves London and her secondhand bookshop to reunite with her childhood friends at their school castle. It seems the dynamics of the group haven’t changed, but Issac the gardener’s son sure has! After a stinking (literally) adorable meet-cute can Nory decide to let go of her fear and give love with Issac a chance? Can Issac and Nory let go of past prejudices and assumptions to let a new relationship flourish? This romance checks all the boxes for me: an English location, mental health representation, a supportive group of friends and a slow burn romance. What a wonderful holiday romance!

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First off, I will say that overall, I really enjoyed this book! The way that the author navigated through such serious topics (classism, loss of a friend, adultery) while still maintaining an entertaining dialogue was A+. Here are just a few of my notes:
-The story seemed marketed as Christmas-themed, but it was more of a tale that just happened to be sometime around December.
-I understand the premise of nicknames, but the author switched between "Elinor" and "Nory" so often that it took me a while to start regarding them as one-and-the-same.
-I loved the friend group (well, MOST of the friend group...), but there seemed to be a slight lack of the romance portion in this romance book. It was very friendship-leaning and leaves a bit wanting in regards to Nory and Isaac, especially given the great detail to the original group's background. Even the castle seemed to get more attention.
I wavered between a 3.5 and 4, but rounded up to 4 due to Nory having my dream job.

Thanks to Putnam Group Penguin and Netgalley for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!

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I absolutely adore Jenny. Her characters are flawed but likeable, and her writing is deep and yet at times laugh out loud funny! Her books can be read all winter season long and feel so cozy. I loved Isaac and Nory- and Nory might be my favorite, most relatable Jenny heroine to date!

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I went into this book expecting a sweet, cute Christmas romance and I was wrong. I really liked Isaac. I thought he was sweet and kind and was a good love interest. However, Nory was frustrating and needed to decide how she wanted to love her life. She needed to make a decision about what was best for her life and live that way, but instead she waffled between her family life and friend life. I also felt like there were way too many characters and side stories going on. I spent about 60% of the book going back and forth to remind myself who was who.
I thought the original story of Nory meeting Isaac and falling in love with the problem of class would have been a good story, but there were way too many side stories thrown in. There was racism, classism, adultery, suicide, way too many to be discussed well enough so that it felt like they were just thrown in just to be there and it was unnecessary..
All in all, this book was way too long and I felt like I was skipping whole chapters because they had nothing to do with the overall plot.

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Absolutely fantastic plot! Could not put the book down once I began reading it. Cannot wait for it to be released. Will recommend it to everyone I know!

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This one was a lot different than I was expecting and the synopsis lead me to believe, but I did really enjoy it overall. It does take place in winter/Christmas time, however, Christmas doesn’t play a huge role in the setting. In fact, I kept forgetting it was Christmas until the end when it was mentioned. I did enjoy the romance between Issac and Nory, but I felt like it almost played second fiddle to her dynamic with her friends. Which was a good dynamic and I enjoyed seeing all the different relationships between them all, but it was a bit of a surprise. Nory was pretty darn adorable. I really liked her. I really liked how her friend group re-evaluated their old habits of letting friends get away with bad behavior as a show of loyalty. I really loved Ameerah and Pippa the most out of the friends. They were both so fun and such badass women. The story absolutely kept my attention, but there were a lot of details that I didn’t think were necessarily needed, especially at the beginning. The epilogue was absolutely wonderful. I liked seeing where everyone ended up and how they grew as people. I definitely recommend this one for a sweet winter read, but don’t go in expecting a full on Christmas themed romance.

TW: mentions of suicide, infidelity

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for an advanced digital reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

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2.5 stars rounded up to 3

I absolutely fell in love with this author’s first novel The Twelve Dates of Christmas. Last year, I waited in eager anticipation for her next “Christmas” novel only to find that it was not centered around Christmas at all. Which leads us to this book – another misleading title and cover for a book that is not really about Christmas at all.

I really struggled with this one, and I’m truly sorry to say it was just not for me at all. I’m not sure if that’s down to the author or the marketing, but I think I will just stick with re-reading The Twelve Dates of Christmas rather than trying any more of this author’s holiday books.

My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Set at Christmas-time in London/the English countryside, this was like a Hallmark movie in book form with a little more edge. The cast of characters went to boarding school together and reunited for a friend’s wedding at the castle near the school they attended. There are plenty of light, humorous scenes, but they also broach several serious topics like mental health, social justice, and infidelity. Elinor is a passionate bibliophile used bookstore owner. Isaac is the gardener for the castle. Their sweet romance is the heart of the book, and after all the drama, there is a happy Hallmark-esque ending.
Thank you #PutnumBooks and #Netgalley for the ARC e-book.

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Long for a Christmas story but I appreciated the long term friendships that were established - I feel like that’s weirdly missing from some many holiday stories! Wish I could have read for the first time at Christmas!

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Normally I love books with a good group of friends. And the entire book is based on Nora Noel going back to her home town where she also went to boarding school, and meeting up with her friends from school for a wedding. The issue with the book was that it mainly focused on the group of friends and they were all pretty obnoxious. There is supposed to be a love story in there about Noury and Isaac but that played maybe a 10% role and the rest was the back story and current story of the friends group. Most of the friends were rich snobs which also was repeated about 100 times. The story seemed repetitive and needed more about Nory and Isaac.

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Elinor Noel - Nory- runs a secondhand bookshop in London. Nory is invited to spend a week on holiday at a castle. The group of friends that Nory attended private school with will all be at the castle to celebrate the wedding of two their friends. Nora reluctantly agrees to go knowing it will be a difficult week.

Being at the castle with her friends brings back forgotten memories. While reminiscing Nory is avoiding someone she once had a former fling with. One evening while exploring the garden she stumbles into Isaac, the castles head gardener. Nory and Isaac place their childhood rivalry aside and begin to spend time together during the wedding festivities. Nory begins to realize that she's attracted to the man who was once her enemy. Nory and Isaac start to explore the attraction between them, but the life of her friends and his is so different that tensions begin. Then secrets come out and things begin to fall apart. It's not long before Nory has to choose if love is worth the risk.

Jenny Bayliss is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. She has a way of writing that doesn't just give us a superficial story. In Meet Me Under the Mistletoe we have Nory, a deeply flawed character, who is in her thirties. She has never been in love, has complicated relationships with her family and friends, and feels less than worthy (despite owning her own bookshop). Nory's the perfect protagonist because she's real and raw. Then we have the most amazing setting. Jenny has transported us to an English castle rich in history and gardens in the heart of Christmastime (my American heart was so fulfilled by this). I will admit the first Jenny Bayliss book I read was a true lighthearted romcom, this one not so much (which is perfectly okay by me). Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is more a woman's fiction with a romance aspect. There are some very heavy topics in this novel (some possibly triggering) and the friendship aspect far outweighs the romance in the book. However, this book makes a perfect holiday read. So, grab a hot cocoa (or cider), cozy socks, and warm blanket and cuddle up for the perfect read.

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Jenny Bayliss has done it again. Meet Me Under The Mistletoe is heartfelt, poignant at times, and chock-full of characters that make you love them and cheer for them until the last page. CW (content warning): talks about suicide.

Elinor, or Nory to her friends, is set to embark on the long awaited wedding of two of her boarding school friends, Jenna and Charles. There's just one problem; their mutual friend Guy will also be there. With his wife, Camille, That Nory didn't know about when she slept with him five years ago. Bolstered into spending a week at the castle that defined their childhood, Nory determines to stay far away from Guy and focus on the event at hand. It's not every day your childhood friends get married in a castle that press is going to cover because she's an actress now! Fate has something else in store for Nory, as she falls head over heels for the gardener's son Issac, into a wheelbarrow of manure on the first night that is. A week at the castle with her friends and a week fraternizing with Issac against her brother's wishes gets Nory thinking - maybe there's more to life than trying to live up to the expectations she thinks everyone has for her.

This book is a masterclass on plot and imagery. Growing up in middle America, I could only dream of the life of boarding school children in the English countryside. Midnight full-moon snow croquet games, running around castles in wool socks, pub nights - the whole spectrum is here in fantastic detail. Of course, it's tempered with the reality that you don't often fantasize about. Having personally lost a dear cousin to suicide in 2019, I found myself with tears openly streaming down my face a few times as the group deal with the after effects of what that kind of loss does to you. Including their late friend Tristan in their lives was touching and instantly endeared me to this book forever. This is a perfect read before Christmas as it's set around it, but doesn't rely solely upon it. The epilogue had me sobbing at everyone's personal happy ending - yes even Guy's. Read this book, you won't regret it. But you will need tissues.

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This ARC was provided to me via Kindle, from PENGUIN GROUP Putnam and #NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity to preview and review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.

Predictable yet cute. it was in the same as the prior novels.

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Thank you for an advance copy of this book. I loved Jenny Bayliss' first two books, so I was very excited for this one!

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: September 27, 2022

I loved Jenny Bayliss' first two books. They were solid five stars from me for different reasons, but still five stars. This book, though, sometimes felt like a chore to read. And I HATE saying that about Meet Me Under the Mistletoe because I wanted to love it so bad. Three stars honestly feels like a generous rating while I reflect on the book.

This book is at times exhausting because of the detailed, at times over detailed, conversations. Conversations that honestly mean nothing to the plot at time. It felt like she was trying to hit a page length goal some of the convos got so tedious! I also wasn't buying the romance. There was too quick a flip from "I hate you" to "I love you" for this story to be about adults. And, the love story also had too much of a me vs. them attitude when it comes to social classes.

Where the book does shine is in the friend group. I think we all dream of having that one group we belong with, and I thought the book highlighted that well. There were some issues here, as well, but overall, the friend group was the saving grace for my rating.

Overall, this book is cute and cozy, but very predictable. And, it lacks the real connection to the reader that Jenny Bayliss' first two books had.

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I have read Jenny Bayliss' previous Christmas book and loved that so I requested this book expecting the same. I was not disappointed! It was a cute and fun read for Christmas time. Funny and lighthearted is just what I want to read around the stress of the holidays. I will be sure to pick up this book again closer to the holidays.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Publishing Group for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Bayliss has definitely got the special sauce when it comes to writing great British Christmas romances. Not only will you get all the cozy holiday feels, but Bayliss delivers a lovely swoony romance and tops it all off with a good helping of delightful dry, witty British humor. Additionally, Bayliss effortlessly balances the heavier topics in the book without overpowering the romance plot. (Check for CWs) So fix up your favorite hot drink and grab your cuddliest blanket and settle in with one of the seasons best books.

I received this eARC thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, G.P. Putnam's Sons in exchange for an honest review. Publishing dates are subject to change.

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I thought it was just the coziest read. I wouldn’t necessarily classify it as a Christmas book, because the mistletoe and Christmassy part didn’t really come in to play until the last few chapters. But, I loved Nory’s character. Her character reminded me of Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail. She is a witty, book loving, hopeless romantic. And, I just adored her. I also loved Andrew’s character because he was laugh out loud funny and the type of friend every girl needs! Jenny Bayliss wrote such a sweet book in which you really root for all of the characters and find yourself longing for a trip to the English countryside in the winter! For a super cozy read, grab a cup of hot cocoa and curl up with this one! It comes out September 27th!

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Content Warning: mention of suicide, cheating

I was expecting a light-hearted Christmas romance but I got something a little bit more than that. Here’s what I think about this book:

+ It starts off in a cozy bookstore, I got the holiday feels right away just from that alone but then it moves on to a castle in the English countryside where Nory’s friend is going to get married at. It’s a reunion of Nory and her boarding school friends and the castle is in her hometown. This is where she runs into Isaac and an attraction between them sparks.

+ There is a big cast of characters because we get to meet Nory’s friends from school. I thought they were a fun group and I loved how they interacted with one another. Everyone had such different personalities, they each stood out.

+ I thought the love story was very sweet. Isaac is someone from Nory’s hometown and past and it was pretty funny how they reunite again.

~ I was expecting light hearted but got a book with some heavy topics like a friend who committed suicide and even Nory’s past scandal of sleeping with one of her friends while drunk (and he’s married). There is also the subject of classism throughout the story. Nory went to a boarding school and all her friends are rich, compared to Isaac and everyone at home who isn’t rich. So there was a lot of judging going around. There was a lot of friend drama, maybe too much drama, but I was hoping for a simple, sweet Christmas love story.

~ The story starts off in a cozy bookstore that Nory owns and then moves to the castle but where is the Christmassy vibes? I felt like it had Christmas stuff near the end of the book but I was expecting it from beginning to end.

Tropes: childhood acquaintances to lovers

Spice Level: 🌶

Why you should read it:
*fun interactions between a big group of friends, humor and drama
*a cozy bookstore and a beautiful castle in the English countryside, some Christmas vibes
*sweet love story between Nory and Isaac

Why you might not want to read it:
*needs more Christmas
*too much drama between the friends and some heavy topics – reads more like women’s fiction than romance

My Thoughts:

I struggled to get through this one even though the beginning was fine. I loved the beginning because it starts off in a cozy bookstore and then at a castle and we get to meet Nory’s friends. Someway in the middle of the story, I started to lose interest. I wanted more of Isaac and Nory but I felt like a lot of the friend drama got in the way of that love story. I wish it was more Christmassy also. So it didn’t work for me because I was expecting a light-hearted story but if you like romance with a little something more, then you will enjoy this one.

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