Saturday, December 28, 2013

Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Bella Andre Review {with Audiobook Notes}

Series: The Sullivans #10
Publish Date: September 24, 2013
400 Pages
Source: Book - Kindle purchase, 
Audiobook - Audible purchase
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

For Mary Sullivan Christmas is, and always has been, about family. And this year is no different. As she awaits the arrival of her eight children and their partners at the cottage in Lake Tahoe, she hangs the ornaments that they made for her over the years. Each decoration brings with it a tide of memories, all of which she holds dear to her heart. But when she comes across the oldest ornament, the one her beloved husband, Jack, gave her on their very first Christmas together, Mary is immediately swept back to the first days of their whirlwind romance, to the love that would be the foundation on which they built the family she is so proud to call her own. Join the Sullivans this Christmas for a story that explores the wonder of the holidays, the meaning of family and a love that transcends time. (from Goodreads) 

Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Bella Andre

My Thoughts:  I love Bella Andre and her romances because they are the perfect mix of swoony, steamy love with a huge, loving family and also a story mixed up in there. But I also love that I can listen to them via audiobook while I follow along in print - and I love that Bella Andre and her team provide that service for those of us that enjoy it. Even though it goes against pretty much everything in me to read series books out of order, when I saw Kissing Under the Mistletoe for a fantastic price (I'm nowhere near that far in the series yet!) AND that it had an audiobook to match, I couldn't help myself and one-clicked my way into a happy holiday read that made me feel good and happy and want to dance around my kitchen while I cooked, cleaned, and listened to the story of this particular part of the Sullivan family.  

OH HOW HAPPY I was that I jumped ahead and read this book! Such a great holiday story!

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The first thing you need to know is this:
The book opens with a prologue that grabs your heart. 
If you aren't hooked and in love with the book before the end of this prologue, you must be a robot. And I sincerely mean that. 

Mary Sullivan is decorating her tree and in doing so, she is pulling out some extremely special ornaments one at a time. She has a story for each ornament - each one was made especially for her by one of her children. This is the perfect opportunity for us not only to learn the story behind the ornament but, more importantly, get a sense of - and a memory-jog - of who each child is, where they are in the birth order (because there are several), and how much she loves each of them. 

And then she comes to a very special ornament, which leads to the story behind this book...

The second thing you need to know is this:
Mary is a beautiful, well-known model. She is 
working one day when Jack sees her working. 
See, Jack and his friends are the makers of a product that they just know will sell and become a big hit this Christmas season, but they are having trouble finding investors. They've been turned down and are worried that their hard work, dedication, and the money that they've put into their prototype will be for nothing. When Jack sees Mary working, his first thoughts are of how absolutely, stunningly beautiful she is...but he also can't help but think that with someone of her popularity and likability behind their product, sales would undoubtedly do well over the holiday season, putting them in a comfortable position in their business. 

Jack ends up taking Mary out - Mary is also smitten with Jack. He appears to not be phased by who she is - he may not even know who she is! - and he treats her with respect and admiration and his eyes tell her that he really likes her. They have a marvelous time...until Jack mentions that he would like to maybe, possibly, hopefully have her on board for their product campaign. UGH! 

Right away, Mary gets angry. She should've known better! She's been used in the past before and she isn't about to fall into that trap again! She's up and out of there before Jack even knows what has happened - how could she fall for his sweet words and those eyes? She's been hurt one too many times and she isn't stupid! The nerve of this man! To want to use her like this! UGH.

It takes a while, but Jack convinces her that he 1) shouldn't have even brought up his work nor the project and that 2) his real reason for taking her out was purely HER. He convinces her of his feelings and so on, and so forth (not giving away details) and BOOM! a romance is born. IT IS A GOOD ROMANCE. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
Just in case you didn't catch it, 
Jack and Mary are the parents of the Sullivan siblings - 
all eight of them. 
I have to admit that I wasn't sure how much I would love reading about the parents of these Sullivans that I love so much. Would I be reading about older people? Would their story be as romantic as the Sullivan siblings? Would there be the element of family running through that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE? 

The answer to these questions is that Bella Andre did what she does best:  She made Kissing Under the Mistletoe just as wonderful as any of her other Sullivan books, and I actually forgot for a large portion of the book that these were the parents of all of the children. This book felt just as swoony and steamy and romantic as the others, and it never had that parent-feel (I know that sounds weird, but I was really worried, you guys!) Also YES, there is an element of family running through this story, and it is really great - it's just a little bit different than what we are used to. I loved it! 

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Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Bella Andre was of course great to listen to and read, particularly as it was a holiday story and I read it smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season. I fell hard for Mary instantly - particularly with her back-story - and I loved Jack instantly as well. Their love story, and this book as a whole, felt like a movie that I was watching in my head and it was wonderful. 

Mary came to the United States years ago to work as a model and found great success, but the situation in which she left her family was less than ideal. They did not approve of her choices and as a result, she hasn't had any contact with them in many years. Mary longs for a family connection - doesn't have one - and feeds this longing by mentoring a group of up-and-coming younger models. This is great for her as she is ready to exit the business as a model but ready to take on other roles within the industry. In truth, she met Jack at a great time in her life but it was initially hard for her to see that, and the reason for this is because she had been hurt and taken advantage of several times in the past by men that wanted to use her for her status, her beauty, things like that. Mary didn't really know what it felt like to be loved, to be adored, to be respected in the way a woman should be. THAT coupled with her longing for a family left her really missing out on some of the joys of life - and MAN Jack was perfect for her because he was ready to shower her with exactly what she needed and wanted. 

Jack reminded me of a Steve-Jobs-type character - not that he was a copycat of Jobs or anything, but Jack and some of his friends had dreams and aspirations of creating things, of being on the cutting-edge of what was new in technology. These guys would live together, work together, have pizza-and-cold-coffee while they worked late into the night as they went all-in on each project. While they felt confident that they finally had just the thing with this latest venture, investors just weren't biting...until they brought Mary along on their pitches. This was, of course, after Jack had brought her on board. Between the work on their project, the sales, and such - somehow Jack and Mary were able to find time for a budding romance that turned into a flaming romance that turned into so much more. I loved Jack and his ability and insistence to put down work and focus on Mary when it was evident that she needed some attention or when he just wanted to give her attention - he was never too goal-oriented for his lady, and I loved that about him. 

But really, for me, it was Mary that made this story. She was able to juggle the romance, the work with Jack, a change in the direction of her career, mentoring younger models, and a rift in her family with plenty of grace and dignity. In all of these things I just mentioned, there are plenty of things that happen, and it is often Mary at the center of it all, being the troubleshooter or peacekeeper or the one making things happen. It is not a surprise to me that she is the glue that holds the Sullivan family together. 

Kissing Under the Mistletoe is a great holiday adult contemporary love story. BUT! I wouldn't hesitate to read it at any time throughout the year. It IS a holiday story and it DOES have a holiday title, but it isn't so obnoxiously holiday that it would be awful to read at any other time. ALSO: It has plenty of romance and passion and there are some steamy moments in there. You guys know that I have more of these Bella Andre books at the ready for when I want some more Sullivans in my life! 

Audiobook NotesThe audiobook format of Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Bella Andre is published by Oak Press, LLC and is 7 hours, 55 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Eva Kaminsky, who seems to be the voice of The Sullivans! I love that! Eva Kaminsky does a great job voicing the Sullivan characters and I always get excited when I purchase a Bella Andre audiobook and see that this audio reader is narrating. I would recommend these audiobooks to fans of this series hearing the books makes reading the books extra fun, and part of that is due to having a great narrator. 

I recommend Kissing Under the Mistletoe to fans of Adult Contemporary Romance, fans of holiday romances/stories, books with strong family relationships, and fans of swoons and steams. Now that I've jumped way ahead and read the tenth book, I'm planning to go back and pick up where I left off. This holiday book was as fun as it could be. I loved it. Also, I think that it is important to note that while I skipped ahead and read this tenth book, I do not feel that I spoiled any of the books that I haven't read yet - so in that case, I suppose this one could potentially be read as a standalone, although I do recommend reading the entire series. 

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Kissing Under The Mistletoe will appeal to fans of:

Adult Contemporary Romance/ChickLit
Holiday Reading
Romance: No Triangle. Slowly Developing.
Swoons and Steams!
Great Setting(s). 
Strong Family Relationships

Kissing Under The Mistletoe by Bella Andre
is currently available for purchase.

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Have you read any of Bella Andre's books?

Would you jump ahead
to read a holiday book like I did? 



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4 comments:

  1. YESSSSSS. I so totally agree about the prologue and how it grabs your heart. I loved how Mary was remembering each of her kids as she put the ornaments up, what a killer way to open.

    Also, loved this book. I am glad the audio is good -- I might have to grab it next Christmas.

    I am just really happy you liked Kissing Under The Mistletoe too!

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  2. ALSO! I totally have jumped ahead in all kinds of romance series this past month or so to read all the Christmas stories.

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  3. Oh I love love loved this book. <3 I've read all the Sullivan books and I was also a little unsure if I would enjoy a book about the parents. But she made me fall all sorts of in love with them.

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  4. Just reading your thoughts on this book makes me smile! It sounds like this is a lovely little love story, which I'm always a sucker for around this time of year. Bella Andre is clearly an author I must check out, based on recommendations from you and Estelle!

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