Must Love Mistletoe
Avon/December 1, 2006
From Goodreads ~
Bailey Sullivan can't stand Christmas, even though her family's business is a store specializing in the perfect holiday. But now her hometown's chief supplier of rooftop Rudolphs and treetop angels is in danger of going under—it's up to Bailey to save the shop.
She has it all planned: She'll arrive on December 1 and be gone by Christmas. Plus there's always spiked eggnog to ease the pain. But "Humbug" Bailey's not the only one home for the holidays. Finn Jacobson—legendary local bad boy-turned-Secret Service agent and Bailey's long-lost high-school sweetheart—is once again the boy next door. Only this time he's all grown up, and the sparks are flying faster and hotter than ever!
Bailey believes in true love about as much as she believes in Santa Claus. But as the holiday draws closer, she's starting to think about one thing she'd like to find under her tree . . .
This was a quick read with a holiday theme but not overly heavy on the Christmas references. There is talk of Christmas since Bailey is working in her family store, The Perfect Christmas, and gets reluctantly involved in hosting various holiday events in the store. She needs to recruit a Santa and as it turns out, a pirate Santa will do.
Bailey Sullivan practically ran from Coronado and her family legacy. She lives in Los Angeles, managing a large law firm. No Ho Ho Hos or reindeer in sight. The last thing she wants is to go back and run the family holiday themed store. When Bailey gets back to Coronado she learns how much she left behind. She's reunited with her childhood best friend and her first love. We see how Bailey learns to open up and form the begins of long term relationships. She has always maintained it's best to get out before things get ugly. A legacy from her father before he took off when she was a child. She learns how wrong that is and I liked seeing the process she goes through to get there. I do think she took a little too long to realize what's really important. Too stubborn for her own good.
Finn Jacobson is in Coronado to take care of his grandmother as she recovers from an illness. He and Bailey were friends as children when Finn would spend the summers at his grandmother's, Bailey's neighbor. They became more than friends when the teen years hit. Then Bailey ran and left Finn heartbroken. Now they're both back and Finn is carrying some serious baggage. I think Finn's issues helped keep this story from being too sweet, lending a seriousness to the plot. That along with Bailey's commitment issues gave the story a nice balance between the humor and holiday spirit.
Bailey and Finn don't seem to have a shot at second chances - she's determined to leave on Christmas Day and he's still having trust issues regarding Bailey. So they try to fight their desires but it's hard to avoid the person you're lusting after when they live right next door. And Bailey does ask Finn for help which puts them together even more. It's sweet and sexy how they battle each other and their lust only to have them fall in love all over again.
The sub-plot of Bailey's mother and step-father trying to work out their differences fell a bit flat for me. I didn't dislike them but I didn't really care if they reconciled or not. There is also Finn's friend Tanner who could have been more fleshed out. He gets a book (Not Another New Year's) but I wasn't left dying to read his story.
Must Love Mistletoe was a fun, sexy romp with some serious issues thrown in the mix.