A kiss is just a kiss…
Unless it’s under the mistletoe.
Ellie Smith is determined to make up for Christmases past by spreading holiday cheer throughout the Bar V5 dude ranch, but tech “bah, humbug” billionaire, Josiah Whittaker, refuses to bask in the spirit of the season.
Unwilling to let the geek-to-gorgeous Josiah win, Ellie plans to give him a Christmas he’ll never forget. But after a simple kiss under the mistletoe, Ellie and Josiah both start questioning everything. Can Christmas really bring the gift neither one of them were expecting: true love?
Source: Review copy from Tule Publishing via NetGalley
Settle in for another charming Christmas visit to Marietta, this time taking an extended stay at the Bar V5 ranch where you can catch up with old friends or (if you’re new to this series) meet a whole new bunch of people. It’s sweet and feel-good and easy to read, with a deeper emotional thread that ripples below the tale of a workaholic billionaire forced to take a restful vacation and the woman determined to change his bah-humbug view of Christmas.
I really liked Ellie. She’s a sweet, giving woman who grew up in the shadow of her older brother’s fatal illness. Even more than ten years after her brother’s death, she’s still mostly known as Buck’s sister. Still, she hasn’t let the tragedy hold her back, even if it did shape her life. She’s work hard as a housekeeper at the ranch and runs her own volunteer service at the hospital to look after the siblings of sick children. She’s utterly selfless, but not in a martyr-type way. Instead she’s cheerful and lovely and it’s no wonder Josiah is drawn to her.
Josiah starts off the tale exceedingly grumpy. He doesn’t want to be back in Marietta, he hates Christmas, he wants to go back to work and his supposed friend won’t even let him near a computer let alone access the internet. He knows he’s been sick, but he has no time to baby himself during his recovery. Yet he doesn’t have much choice, and with Ellie around he even soon starts to enjoy himself. I loved how he saw Ellie, separating her out from the geeky girl he vaguely remembers as a kid, and admires her hard work and dedication to her cause. I also liked how careful he was with her, given her recent romantic troubles. The way he effortlessly offers support (and not just in a monetary way) was also lovely to read.
This is a clean romance that never goes beyond kisses, some of them involving mistletoe. It’s all pretty adorable, even if Josiah needs a wake up call at one point when he gets in a panic about where the pair of them are going. That was the only bit of the book that felt a little off to me, because I’m pretty certain he had been thinking in terms of the future before that moment, only for him to backtrack completely and do something stupid. It did, however, give Ellie another chance to prove how amazing she is, so it’s kind of okay.
Warm and lovely and sweet and full of Christmas magic, I thoroughly enjoyed this revisit to the Bar V5. Josiah and Ellie are an adorable couple and I loved reading about them and the plans Ellie had for her charity. If you’re looking for something gentle and cosy this holiday season, then you can’t go far wrong with this. It certainly left me smiling, which is all I can ask.
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