Thursday 28 October 2021

Guest Review: Under the Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft

Christmas. A time for family, friends – and rekindling old flames…

When Laurel returns to the village of Middledip, she’s looking for a quiet life. Adjusting to her recent divorce, she’s ready to spend some time getting back on her feet amidst the glorious snow-dusted countryside.

Yet, life in Middledip is far from straightforward. Coming to the aid of her sister, Rea, as she navigates her own troubles, Laurel barely has a moment to think about where her own life is going.

However, time stands still when she sees her old flame, Grady Cassidy – and it’s soon as if they’ve never been apart. But through her happiness, Laurel remembers why she left the village all those years ago, as she recalls a dark night and Grady’s once-wayward brother, Mac…

Can Laurel learn to forgive and forget? Or will her chances of Christmas under the mistletoe with Grady remain a dream?

Review: I have been eagerly awaiting Sue Moorcroft’s latest Christmas novel; they are always well worth the wait. This time, she is taking us back to the little village of Middledip, the setting of many of her books. Like me, readers of Sue’s books will be familiar with this village and I was pleased to find myself returning to some recognisable haunts. Everyone in the village seems excited for Christmas and is busy with preparations. As soon as I began to read this book, I was transported to their world and found it difficult to put it down.

Successful artist Laurel Hill is the central female character in this story. With Christmas approaching, she is returning to her childhood home in the village of Middledip to help out her agoraphobic sister Rea, who is concerned over the uncharacteristic behaviour of her teenage daughter Daisy. Laurel has only been in the village a short time when she bumps into her childhood sweetheart Grady Cassidy. Many years previously, Laurel left Middledip suddenly without explanation, leaving them both broken hearted. Only a few people know what caused her to leave. As Laurel and Grady rekindle their relationship, it becomes clear that she must give him some explanation, although it may adversely affect his friendship with his brother. In the midst of sorting out her sister’s life, Laurel must struggle to find a way forward with her own and figure out whether Grady can be part of her story.

Sue Moorcroft deals with some tough issues in this story, and deals with them well. Although there are dark moments, there is also room for humour and for the magic of Christmas in a snowy village setting to shine through. This community, familiar to so many readers of this book, are so incredibly skilled in arts and crafts that I felt the urge to at least get the knitting needles out since I have never been able to draw anything recognisable. I enjoyed meeting some new characters in this story, but I wasn’t drawn to them all. In fact, I had trouble liking Laurel; I felt she wasn’t fair to Grady who was falling over himself to help her. Having said that, I would still recommend this book, especially for reading in the run up to Christmas. The Christmas spirit flowing in Middledip would warm any reader’s heart.

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