Monday, November 24, 2014

Love at Mistletoe Inn by Cindy Kirk (Review)

Love at Mistletoe Inn
by Cindy Kirk
A Year of Weddings Novella (2), Book 1
Christian Fiction / Contemporary / Romance
Available November 2014
112 pages

About the Book
They've helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples. Now twelve new couples will find themselves in the wedding spotlight in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

An owner of a Victorian inn and charming rustic barn is used to creating the perfect setting for other couples' nuptials. But when she falls head over heels for the new man in her life, will she be prepared to walk down that aisle?

My Thoughts
I am so thrilled that Zondervan has chosen to continue the "Year of Weddings" series through 2015! I thoroughly enjoyed reading a new novella each month, and, while I didn't fall in love with every one, I definitely enjoyed the majority of them! Unfortunately, the second year of novellas is off to a rocky start, in my opinion. 

Plot: It seemed that the plot alternated between being extremely rushed and dragging. I never felt that the author found a steady pace for the events taking place. Additionally, the story was fairly boring. With the exception of one moment (to be addressed later), nothing really surprised me, and I was never left wondering what might happen next. Verna's request for help planning a wedding for an unknown bride and groom felt contrived and over-the-top. I realize that authors face great challenges when trying to develop an engaging plot in so few pages, but this still fell below my expectations for novellas.

Characters: Neither of the main characters were very likeable. Hope was whiny and immature. I wanted to like John, but he was portrayed as being pushy a few times, which left me wanting a true "hero" for this story. I thought perhaps they would both grow and mature, but it didn't really feel like they did.

Christian Content: Considering this is portrayed as a Christian book, I was disappointed by how Christianity was portrayed in this book. In particular, I was bothered by the fact that Hope kept referring to these little "mantras" to get her through situations (i.e., God helps those who help themselves.) While they may be catchy sayings, these sayings were simply not founded on biblical principles. I was waiting for another John or Verna (or even the pastor!) to drive home some solid biblical truths with Hope—perhaps showing her that true faith is founded on God's Word—but that never happened. John did offer a little more hope, as it seemed that his relationship with God had grown in the years prior to the book's opening scene. While I don't expect strong Christian themes in every "Christian" book I read, I do expect books published by a Christian publisher to portray Christian principles accurately.

Romantic Content: *****SPOILER*****I don't know how to discuss this last point without giving away some of the details of the story, so I'm not even going to try. Read ahead at your own risk. The most shocking and disappointing portion of this book had to do with how s3x was portrayed. Essentially, John and Hope elope when they are 18. However, Hope freaks out just after the ceremony conducted by an internet-ordained "minister" and they decide to simply not file the paperwork. Fast forward 10 years, and Hope learns they are—surprise!—married anyway. When John returns home after being away for 10 years, Hope tells him they are still married, says she doesn't know what to do (because she is dating another man), cries on his shoulder. The very next sentence (at the beginning of the next chapter) references Hope getting out of John's bed. WHAT?!?! I thought surely I had misunderstood, but, no, Hope and John apparently can't contain themselves after 10 years apart and have s3x. Despite not knowing they are married even 10 minutes before and despite Hope being in a relationship with another man, they still have s3x. After having s3x, Hope immediately goes to an attorney's office to find out how to annul the marriage. Hope later decides to try to make the marriage work, but says she won't say "I love you" or wear her wedding ring until she can know for sure this will work. Hello??? Did she not just have s3x with her "husband"? But now she doesn't know if it's going to work out? I'm sorry, but this put a really bad taste in my mouth. Yes, they were technically married, but there were so many other circumstances surrounding this revelation that I felt like this was totally uncalled for. It really felt out of place and not appropriate for a Christian book.*****END SPOILER*****

Overall, Love at Mistletoe Inn was a disappointing read for me. I'll definitely give other books in the series a shot, but I recommend skipping this one. [2 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Cindy Kirk is a lifelong Nebraska resident who started writing after taking a class at a local community college. But her interest in the written word started years before when she was in her teens. At sixteen she wrote in her diary, “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer.”

Not until her daughter was heading off to college did Cindy return to her first love---writing. Unlike some writers, Cindy wasn’t interested in newspaper or magazine articles, short stories or poetry. When she decided to start writing, she jumped feet first into book length fiction. She loves reading and writing romance because she believes in the power of love and in happily ever after. An incurable romantic, Cindy loves seeing her characters grow and learn from their mistakes and, in the process, achieve a happy ending.

Someone once told Cindy that to know a writer you just have to read what she's written; she hopes that once you read her books you can tell she is an eternal optimist, one who truly believes in the power of love. She invites you to kick off your shoes, pick up one of her books and get to know her.

Cindy and her high school sweetheart husband live on an acreage with two dogs and two cats—Oreo—a friendly feline who loves to sit next to the computer and supervise her writing and Leo, a white devil with a raccoon-like tail.

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