Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Irene Brand's and Anita Higman's Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe ~ Reviewed
Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe
by Irene Brand and Anita Higman
Published by Summerside Press
Two Christmas stories - one historical, one contemporary - under one cover.
Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: An Appalachian Christmas
A promise to her dying sister compels Julia Mayfield to take her young nephew to Mistletoe, Kentucky, a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. Sparks fly when she meets David Armstrong, a World War II veteran like herself. Even as shadows from the past weave a dangerous web around Julia and David, will their love flourish like the mistletoe that blankets the nearby hills?
Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: Once Upon a Christmas Eve
Holly Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Holly’s story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes. . .until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.
Love finds you is an interesting combination of a historical and modern day romance. In this warm yourself by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa book, the reader is given two endearing stories in one. The first novella is centered around a small, backwoods town in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Julia Mayfield, an independent city slicker and war veteran from Maryland, finds herself floundering in the old fashioned community of Mistletoe when her weeklong expedition turns into an extended stay. The lack of progress, resources, and transportation in the quaint town of Mistletoe infuriate and endear her at the same time. And perhaps if it weren’t for dear Granny and her handsome, mysterious son, David Armstrong, her independence would win out. But the longer she stays in this isolated community, the deeper it penetrates her heart. Fighting against inner demons of unworthiness, she longs for the uncomplicated acceptance and sense of community Mistletoe offers. And yet, the city in her refuses to die. Will her love for David be enough to keep her in the hills?
In the next novella, written by Anita Higman, we travel forward in time some seventy years to an equally small town in Noel, Missouri. And if you were paying attention in novella number one, you will remember this is the same town Julia’s parents traveled to when they abandoned her with their young, recently orphaned, grandson, her nephew. Now we dive into the life of another orphan, Holly Goodman. Deposited on a bachelor’s doorstep on Christmas Eve, Holly Goodnight is welcomed with open arms. By the time we pick up the story, we see a young woman flourishing in a tight-knit community surrounded by people who adore her. And yet, despite the love and security pillowing her heart, a longing wiggles to the surface. If only she could meet her biological mom, the emptiness in her heart would be filled.
It isn’t long before the media picks up her story, and this tale of abandonment turned adoption sparks the creativity of a struggling author. As citified, slightly neurotic, Van Keaton watches his writing career dwindle, he searched for the story that will salvage his dying career. He thinks he’s found it in Holly, but he soon realizes Holly Goodnight represents much more than a best-selling story. It isn’t long before he falls for this giggly girl from the Midwest, and Holly is equally taken by Van’s eloquence and charm. But are the butterflies in her stomach love or excitement of the unknown? And what if it means losing her childhood friend, Owen, the one she promised to marry some ten years back? As Owen and Van duel it out for Holly’s affections, Holly finds herself in a no-win situation. Either way, one of the men she’s grown to love will be crushed.
Both of these stories did a great job of pulling me in and creating a heart-warming, cozy atmosphere that made me long for the simplicities of small town life. Irene Brand’s novel was a bit more formal, and at times, didn’t handle emotions as realistically as I would have hoped, but she still managed to evoke empathy in the reader. And although I appreciated the faith aspect brought into Irene’s novel, it would have settled deeper had I seen more angst as Julia struggled with her deep emotional issues.
Anita has a very strong writing style, creating quirky characters that made me smile. Images of hiccup-burping Holly Goodnight quickly settled in my mind.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery