Sometimes the right book finds you at just the right time. Having been mired in what I’m calling The Reading Slump From Hell for the past month, I’ve been slogging my through one book after another. However, just as I was about to dissolve in puddle of tears, I picked Jessica Hart’s latest Harlequin Romance. The skies parted, and I swear I heard a heavenly choir belting out a rockin’ tune.
At twenty-seven Cassandra Grey is a supreme disappointment to her family. Her brothers and sister are wildly successful, while Cassie has flitted from one job to the next. However she’s finally settled on a career she thinks is right for her. She’s working for a wedding planner, although business has been a bit slow lately. That’s when her boss gets a call from Jake Trevelyan inquiring about their services and asks to meet with Cassie. Jake and Cassie knew each other when they were younger, and the last time they saw each other was full of teenage angst culminating in a scorching kiss. Cassie looks back on her behavior and is slightly mortified. But the business needs the booking, and Cassie needs her job, so she agrees to meet with Jake.
Turns out Jake isn’t getting married. No, he’s inherited Portrevick Hall, a stately manor in the quaint small town where he and Cassie grew up. Jake is a very successful business man, but even he cannot afford a huge English manor. No, the Hall is going to need to pay for itself, so he has the idea of making it available to the public for various events. Oh, like weddings. Someone told him Cassie was in the wedding business now, so he gives her a call. When she shows up, he discovers Cassie is still the sweet, slightly bumbling, chaotic girl he remembered. However she has some good ideas, and agrees to hire her to turn the Hall into a venue.
In order for this story to work, the reader has to be willing to buy into a couple of things. For one, that Cassie could work for a wedding planner. She’s certainly a sweet, charming and lovely girl, but she’s also a bit disorganized and messy. She’s the type of person who is always 15 minutes late, she wouldn’t know sleek and cool if it bit her in the butt, and she thrives on clutter. This doesn’t mean she’s too stupid to live. No, Cassie is a bright girl. She’s just not what I would call “Type A.” But she’s charming, delightful, and just what Jake needs in his life. Also, the prologue of the story is a bit overwrought. That being said, it sets up the story by showing Cassie at 17 and Jake in his very early 20s. Overwrought with a fair amount of exclamation points is pretty much par for the course at 17.
Jake grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, so when he got a chance to escape his hometown, he took it and ran. To compensate for a childhood where everyone treated him like trash, he became the classic over-achiever. The right suit, the right tie, the right job, and the right girl. Jake has attached himself to smart, cool, sophisticated women who always wear black. Cassie is most definitely not his type. So why is he so drawn to her?
What I liked so much about this story besides the fact that it was charming and sweet, was that Jake and Cassie spend a fair amount of time talking to each other. After slogging through one too many romances where the romantic couple is unwilling or incapable of this it made Jake and Cassie’s interaction with each other a breath of fresh air.
What I enjoy about the Harlequin Romance line is that they’re multi-generational stories. The type of stories that you can read and then give to your mother, grandmother or teenage daughter without missing a beat. Under The Boss’s Mistletoe is a textbook example of this. Read it, savor it, and then give it to your 13-year-old daughter to read. You’ll both love it.
In high school, Jake Trevelyan was Casie Grey’s dream rebel. He surfed, rode a motorbike – now he’s her new boss! It’s events planner Cassie’s job to transform Jake’s mansion into a snow-kissed wedding venue. NOT to relive her old fantasy that they’re the ones getting married. Posing as the happy couple for a publicity photo shoot, Cassie pinches herself as Jake leans in for a show-stopping kiss … but it’s just for the cameras, isn’t it?