A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese

on April 5, 2022

My track record with Liese is spotty — one book I really liked (Ever After Always) and two I DNF’d. But I can never resist a “Shop Around the Corner” story. (Yeah, yeah, even I could tell this one is “You’ve Got Mail.” Just let me live in my own little world, okay?) It’s also amusingly over the top with its Christmas theme, pitting charming, independent Bailey’s Bookshop against the evil chain Potter’s Pages, and our Christmas-adoring narrator Gabby Di Natale against even more aptly named Jonathan Frost. (If that level of whimsy annoys you, just don’t even try this one.)

Jonathan was brought in as co-manager of Bailey’s because while Gabby is fantastic at hand-selling books and making the store cozy and inviting, she was having trouble coping with other managerial obligations. Gabby is autistic, and feeling sensitive about her shortcomings made Jonathan the enemy to her, something his curt manner did nothing to help. Now it looks like the struggling bookstore will only be able to keep one of them, and Gabby is determined that it’ll be her. Luckily, she has her daily conversations with her book loving penpal to keep her happy, no matter how annoying Jonathan is.

It was cool to read a grumpy/sunshine romance featuring an autistic character who is the sunshine. In fact, analytical, terse Jonathan is much more like the autistic stereotype than sensitive Gabby. (I half expected him to turn out to be autistic too, and was just a little disappointed he didn’t.) They make an effective opposites-attract couple.

But I was disappointed that in a book with a demisexual character (also Gabby,) the physical aspects of the romance were so… samey. She’s all about his muscular arms and long legs and broad shoulders, and he sends her into a puddle of lust like she’s never felt before. Sure, an author’s gotta eat and maybe this is totally how it works for some demisexual people, and I don’t identify as demisexual, so what do I know. Nonetheless, I hoped for something more about emotional connection than physical, and I felt let down.

Anyway, if you’re in the mood for a book that feels like “Santa’s workshop and the Abominable Snowman had a baby and it just threw up all over the place,” have at it.


5 responses to “The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese

  1. Caz says:

    Hah – I ALWAYS think of that storyline as “The Shop Around the Corner” – You’ve Got Mail is a very poor imitation, IMO. I also had to grin at the references to “It’s a Wonderful Life” – Bailey and Potter!

  2. azteclady says:

    Everything about this hit the right tone for me to want to read it, except having a demisexual character lust in a very sexual manner–I’m not demisexual myself either, but I follow a couple of people on twitter who identify that way, and from what they’ve shared, that portrayal would be iffy at best.

    (Given the size of the TBR cordilleras, print and digital, I’m giving this a pass because of this)

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