Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Review: Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe by Mary Balogh

Publication Date:12/03/2013 (Reprint)
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 341
ISBN-10: 0451219791
ISBN-13: 978-0451219794

(Received for an honest review from Signet)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Mary Balogh on the WEB: Website, BlogFacebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from Under the Mistletoe, courtesy of the author's website.


In this beautifully written “Christmas gift to her readers” (BooklistNew York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh draws on the warmth of the holiday season to heal the wounds of the human heart in five cherished novellas of family, friends, lovers, and strangers....

In A Family Christmas, an estranged husband and wife make an unexpected connection—and an illuminating discovery—during the holiday season.

The Star of Bethlehem is a lost diamond ring causing a riff in an already troubled marriage until a servant solves not one mystery but three surrounding its disappearance.

The Best Gift can come at the most unexpected moments, especially for a lonesome teacher enlisted over the holidays to chaperone the niece of a notorious rake.

Playing House finds an impoverished young woman longing to celebrate just one last, joyous Christmas before she and her orphaned siblings are separated forever.

And in No Room at the Inn, a winter storm on Christmas Eve brings a young couple in from the cold, desperately in need of warmth and shelter for their unborn child.


Mary Balogh is one of the premiere writers of traditional Regency romances. She has thrilled fans for years with her portrayal of the ton and all of it's antics. Under the Mistletoe is a reprint Christmas anthology that includes five Christmas novella's, some from Balogh's early career. Each story is well crafted and stands alone, but when they are put together they provide a wonderful gift of Christmas cheer. Balogh fans will enjoy the festive air of the stories and the underlying meanings. A great book to read during the holiday season.

What I liked:

Two of the stories in this anthology stood out as my favorites. Both are from Balogh early writings. "No Room at the Inn" is easily the best of the five and parallels the Biblical story of Jesus' birth. I liked the fact that Balogh uses the Biblical account to base her story on, but doesn't go overboard in making the references too obvious. I was both appalled at some of the guests and their entitled attitudes and moved by the sacrifice of others. A great Christmas story.

"Playing House" was also one of my favorites in the anthology. I liked the stark differences in class between the main characters and how poverty did not diminish the Christmas spirit evidenced here. The orphaned siblings are going to get one more Christmas together in this tale and it's a very endearing story of love and hope.

"The Star of Bethlehem" may not have been a favorite of mine, but it was still good. I thought the marriage between the two main characters was really in trouble, but when the ring shows up and there are some other things revealed about it's disappearance there is a glimmer of what might be. The Christmas spirit always seems to triumph this time of year.

What I didn't like:

"The Best Gift" and "A Family Christmas" just did not ring true for me. Both stories did not live up to the Mary Balogh stories I am used to reading. Balogh stays true to the customs and patterns of the ton throughout, but there just seems to be a bit of a disconnect between the characters. The situations seem contrived and the pacing was too fast, which sometimes happens in novellas which are shorter and less detailed.

Bottom Line:

I liked several of the stories and a couple were just not my cup of tea. I enjoy Christmas romances very much and was looking forward to this one since Mary Balogh is one of the best in Regency romance. Overall it is a good book of Christmas tales, though maybe not a great one.

Under the Mistletoe is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Slightly novels: Slightly Married, Slightly Wicked, Slightly Scandalous, Slightly Tempted, Slightly Sinful, and Slightly Dangerous, as well as the romances No Man's Mistress, More than a Mistress, and One Night for Love. She is also the author of Simply Love, Simply Unforgettable, Simply Magic, and Simply Perfect, her dazzling quartet of novels set at Miss Martin's School for Girls. A former teacher herself, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.

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