Cover Image: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

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Member Reviews

DNF at 21%. It was clear early on that Nory was just not the main character I could get behind, she really was quite annoying. There was a large cast of side characters introduced at the onset and I felt that there was a lot to navigate and try to keep straight. If the scope was narrowed in more I think I might have fared better with this one. Thank you G. P. Putman's Sons and NetGalley for the ARC.

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Meet Me Under the Mistletoe follows Elinor (Nory), who runs a second-hand bookshop in London. She’s remained best friends with her schoolmate from her days of being a scholarship kid at a posh private school. Her extravagant upper-class classmate invites her and the gang out for a pre-wedding party in a castle in a small town in the UK. There she runs into her brother’s old public schoolmate Isaac who has nothing but contempt for the ‘snobby prep school kids.’

This book primarily focuses on friendship dynamics, and romance is not the sole focus. Her friends were fun and dynamic, but I would have loved more about her bookstore and her romantic relationship with Issac. And Christmas, given how it’s marketed. It felt more like contemporary fiction. There were many supporting characters and side stories where I wish it were condensed, so we got more of a few, but eliminated any confusion on who was who and had specific topics land better.

There were moments of humor, spunky banter, and some pretty engaging conversations. This concept had a lot of promise, but sadly the result wasn’t for me. Overall, it was a cute but predictable read that lacked that coziness you want from a Christmas romance.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for the digital arc in return for an honest review.

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Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Group Putnam, and the author for sharing this ARC with me in exchange for my honest feedback!

Elinor owns a cozy vintage bookstore, Serendipitous Seconds, in old London. She is perfectly content running the place with her right hand man, Andrew, who helps her on the business side of things. She’s such an intense book lover that it’s hard for her to let go of the books she has curated for the shop. For all of the Bookish people out there, Elinor is immediately relatable because of quotes like these:

“One of the only downsides, so far as Elinor could see, to spending your life surrounded by beautiful books was that people kept wanting to buy your favorites.”

“Book love was a magical thing.”

“An unfilled bookshelf was a sad shelf indeed.”

Elinor and her best friend Ameerah are getting ready to go on holiday to see two of their friends from college get married. It will be a week-long affair leading up to the wedding at an English castle, full of activities for their whole friend group to catch up and reminisce on old times at school.

There’s a bit of a dark cloud hanging over the festivities because it’s evident to everyone that a vital part of their friend group is missing. Their beloved friend Tristan died by suicide a few years prior, and the last time that everyone was together was at his funeral. Throughout the week, the group tries to navigate this new normal and do their best to have fun and celebrate the soon to be Mr. and Mrs.

Elinor is surprised to reconnect with Isaac, an old friend that works at the castle as their head gardener, during her time there. This man loves dogs, spends his days pruning roses and naming flowers after people he loves, and happens to be hot and single.

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is so much more than a holiday romance. Elinor and Isaac’s relationship is honestly more of a subplot compared to the rest of the book. This story is about friendship, loss and grief, mental health, accepting and loving those closest to you as they change and grow, and fighting for the life that you want.

This is a slow paced, feel good book filled with imperfect people trying to figure out adulthood and what they want for their futures (while usually sitting fireside wearing sweaters and drinking a cuppa tea!)

I absolutely loved reading this book over the holidays and would recommend it to everyone! Thanks again to NetGalley, Penguin Group Putnam, and Jenny Bayliss for sharing this with me.

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This is a big-hearted book about the reunion of a group of friends, perfect for fans of Richard Curtis movies. Although it's marketed as a holiday romance, the holidays play second fiddle to the reunion storylines. Rather than the holidays, this is a book about friendship, grief, and second chances.

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Jenny Bayliss never misses. I have loved every book she read and this was no exception! I love enemies to lovers tropes and I liked the incorporation of a bookstore into the storyline. While mistletoe makes it feel like it was a Christmas book, there really wasn't too much Christmas in it. I was fine reading it in January.

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I’m having mixed feelings on this one. I was expecting a christmasy romance book but I think I got started off on the wrong foot. When I read it, I wasn’t feeling the Christmasy so I had a hard time getting into it, and then the book itself wasn’t super Christmasy. I’m a big mood reader so I think this affected my experience reading it. Despite that, I was having a hard time keeping all the characters straight. Regarding then main character, Elinor and Nory are both used too frequently in the same page and it was confusing. I liked the side stories but I think there was a bit too much going on so I wasn’t super invested in Nory and Isaac’s love story and I found myself skimming a lot. I think I’ll give this one another shot next Christmas season to see if my experience changes at all.

Thank you NetGalley for this eARC!

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This is a perfectly satisfactory, closed-door holiday rom com. I had high hopes considering the bookstore and Scotland settings, but while it was totally fine, it left me wanting. As someone who only reads one or two holiday books per year, there are better ones I could have spent my time on. I do have her A Season for Second Chances and have heard great things, so I haven't totally given up on this author.

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Author of The Twelve Dates of Christmas, Jenny Bayliss is back with another holiday romance. Bookshop owner Elinor Noel reunites with her private school friends for a wedding at a castle, where she meets gardener Isaac. Elinor must decide what she wants her future to look like as she gets close to Isaac and navigates a troubled relationship with her brother.
I felt drawn to this novel, particularly because of the charming castle setting. Nory is relatable, and her relationship with Isaac is compelling and heartfelt and seems grown up. It's the perfect cozy winter read. I particularly loved the cast of characters, including Nory's friends and family.

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the way I felt about this book went up and down and up and down as I finished it.

issac was my favorite character in the story and it stayed that way throughout as I couldn't get myself to like nora.

I think having less story lines would have made this book easier to read as well as feel invested and tuned into the main characters.

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4 stars for a cute, destination-style, enemies-to-lovers romance~

Ah yes, one of my favorite tropes: enemies-to-lovers.

But it was more complex that just that - we have a destination trip, a wedding, drama, and a whole lot of interesting character development.

This was just a really cute romance overall. I loved that the wedding took place at a castle - perfect location for Nory to get to know Isaac in a more intimate setting. So not only do we have a fun destination wedding, we have drama, intrigue, and a change of heart between our main characters. It was a fun read for the holiday season and I really enjoyed it!

Thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, G.P. Putnam's Sons for providing a digital ARC for review!

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Isaac is an all-time great love interest. Nory is an all-time frustrating protagonist. While I absolutely love the trope of childhood friends (or in this case, enemies) to lovers, I kept wanting better for Isaac than Nory. The Christmas spirit was definitely there though, which made this a fun read!

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Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss. Pub date: September 27, 2022. Pub Date: 4 stars. Set in the countryside of England, this book centers around a group of friends gathered to celebrate the wedding of one of their friends, Elinor Noel, a bookstore owner, has always felt like the outcast of her friends due to her not being a part of the luxury crowd and instead grew up in the working class. She received a scholarship to attend a prestigious school and made lifelong friends there. At this celebration, she is reunited with the gardener of the castle estate, sparks fly and Christmas time is full of holiday cheer. This story is about friendship, love, romance, mental health and the power of family. I really enjoyed this novel and felt it was a cozy read. Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for this e-arc in exchange for my honest review. #netgalley #meetmeunderthemistletoe

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2.5/5 Stars

** I received this as an E-ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review, Thank you!**

This was just okay for me. I found that it wasn't my favorite, I wasn't the biggest fan of the writing or the characters. I found myself not wanting to pick it up because I just wasn't invested in the story at all. I'm also frustrated with the fact that this is marketed as a Christmas romance, but it just didn't have enough of a Christmas feel to it. That also affected my enjoyment because I was going into it with Christmas romance vibes.

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This rom-com focuses on a group of boarding school friends getting back together for a wedding at a castle. Most of them are rich and privileged, with the heroine, Nory, being a bit of an outlier. Her romance with the castle’s gardener Issac is sweet and a joy to read.

I loved the exploration of friend dynamics and what it means to try to go back to places from your childhood. The author shows a nice variety of friendships, and addresses some complexities of modern relationships. The third act break up was pretty brutal, but I enjoyed the book overall. It’s a great winter read.

The Christmas elements are minor, so you can enjoy this all winter long.

Trigger warning for discussion of a past suicide.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher.

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This was a fun book to read over the holidays. The plot was quick enough that it kept me entertained. I enjoyed reading it.

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A pox upon the houses of everyone involved with the titling/marketing of this as some sort of Christmas romcom! Ugggggh! You did this oh so very lovely book such a disservice. While there did end up being a kiss under the mistletoe, this had a much more than a simple romp in the manger to offer and I totally understand why some have complained it was a sort of bait and switch from what they had been expecting. Luckily I have read (and loved) this author before and knew she would provide much more meat on the Christmas roast than other seasonal offerings.

The story here is of Eleanor who is gathering with her former boarding school chums for a week-long reunion prior to two of them getting married. The last time they were together was after the tragic loss of one of their group and where Nory did a diddle that she would like to pretend she never did with another of their pals.

I’d call this part Four Weddings and a Funeral and part The Big Chill (and if you know me you know I’m ALWAYS looking for something that gives me The Big Chill vibes). There’s some seriousness with respect to talk of race and class, as well as some melancholy, but there’s also plenty of laughs . . .

“Tell me about him.”

“He’s the gardner . . .”

“Oh, Lady Chatterley! I do say!”

“I knew you’d say that.”

And love.

Per usual, the third act breakup made me want to punch everyone around me in the face and I also thought this was probably nearly 100 pages too long. But still. It made my Grinch heart grow three sizes and I felt like I made some new friends. It may be time to take down the tree, but you could read this one any time throughout the winter.

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Very cute holiday read- if you’re into romance and Christmas, I would highly suggest read this book!

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This is a really cute story!!!
I loved the banter between Nory and her family. Also swooning over the fact that she has her own bookshop!

I did feel that certain parts were dragged out and that made the book feel a little long.

Overall, good book!!!

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Nory is perfectly happy running a secondhand bookshop and living her fairly simple life. But since she attended private school on scholarship, she often finds herself balancing her life with friends who lead extravagant lifestyles. When she goes to a friend’s wedding at the castle near her old school, she expects it to be a complicated weekend. She finds herself literally in the arms of the castle’s gardener, a boy she used to consider her enemy. But this time around, the chemistry between them is undeniable.

This closed-door romance managed to have a lot of chemistry and a lot of tension. This book really focused on a lot more serious topics than I expected, especially for a holiday romance. There was a lot about social class as well as other deeper topics. While this story was enjoyable, it was a bit challenging to keep up with all of the side characters and the various storylines at times.

Thanks to Putnam Books for the advance copy.

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I really wanted to love this book, but on a whole it just didn’t work for me. There were some elements I liked - the small town setting at Christmastime, Nory’s friendship with Ameerah, and all of the scenes in Nory’s bookshop. I wish we had gotten to spend more time there and see more of Nory’s regular, every day life. Maybe I would have liked this more.

This book was rather unnecessarily long. I also really didn’t like most of Nory’s other friends, who we spend a lot of time with. To avoid spoilers I’ll say that I can’t believe that they would all stay friends with Guy after all of his misdeeds. I’m not even sure how Nory could stand to be in the same room with him or his defenders - even Charles was still defending him at the end of the book. Isaac was a sweet love interest, but all of the drama with Nory’s friends (and brother, who is also rather unlikeable) really took away from the romance.

Thank you to NetGalley and Putnam for a review copy. I loved books by this author in the past so I will definitely give her another try in the future.

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