Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham
Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…
Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can’t wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.
The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.
Mine Under the Mistletoe ended up being an endearing mix of fun and poignant – I wasn’t expecting the poignant when I picked it up, but it really added to the story. I do, however, wish it had been a little bit longer to deal with some of the very intense feelings it began to address in the two main characters.
Ashley’s one of those people that is determined to find the best in everything. She’s a bit naive, but utterly kind, caring and optimistic. That’s not to say that she doesn’t recognize the bad things that happens – she understands them very well – but she adapts and forges ahead. I found myself liking and respecting her quite a bit (which helped with the naivete that showed up occasionally).
Oliver is dealing with some heavy, heavy guilt. This is what I thought needed to be addressed a bit more. His sister was in a car accident when she was fourteen and apparently both brain damaged and paralyzed. She died on Boxing Day the previous year. It’s well understandable why Christmas is so hard for Ollie, and why he’s so desperate to get anywhere but here.
I really enjoyed the way that Ashley didn’t push Ollie. She let him come to terms with his issues, and his worries on his own. He’d share them when he was ready and could. And he did. It was incredibly sweet watching these two bond. I did have a bit of a problem with the quickness and intensity of Ashley’s feelings though. After just a couple of days they’re in love, and with all the grief they were both dealing with I felt that was a little unlikely. I did see how they could make it work though, and was happy they were going to – and the epilogue at the end left me smiling and sure in their HEA.