Author: Melissa Cutler
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Purchased by Reviewer
Blurb: It’ll be a Christmas to remember when hotel heiress Carina Briscoe falls for cowboy James Decker, the bad boy stable manager of her family’s Texas resort, after they’re roped into pretending marriage. The marriage might be a sham but the sparks between them are anything but. Still, with a little help from the heroine’s interfering family, they might end up with the greatest Christmas gift of all: true love.
Review: I was taken totally by surprise by this book. This is not one I would normally choose. I’m more of a mystery, thriller or romantic suspense fan. But, happily, I let some friends convince me to try, just once, a Western Romance with a holiday theme. I didn’t expect to fall head over heels in love with this story. But I did.
First of all, the writing captivated me before I had a chance to connect to the characters. Melissa Cutler takes all those words and phrases and weaves a captivating tale, full of style, perfect flow and pacing. A beautifully crafted story.
The story started strong and stayed strong, with a run-a-way bride refusing to marry her intended….in the month before Christmas. Oh, boy. This is a big problem. You see, the story takes place at the Briscoe Ranch Resort, a resort that specializes in destination weddings…especially at Christmas. And there is a legend….The Mistletoe Effect….a legend that claims that for 50 years every single wedding that has taken place in the 25 days before Christmas at the resort has resulted in a lasting and happy marriage. This legend has made the resort famous and the Briscoe family wealthy. And the runaway bride? She’s Haylie Briscoe, youngest daughter of TY and Eloise Briscoe, the owners of the resort.
It. Is. A. Disaster!
With the reputation of the family and the resort at stake, elder daughter, Carina, who accidentally caught the bouquet when her sister threw it in a huff, is called upon by her father to step in and save the day. A wedding has been staged and, by gosh, a wedding there will be! It’s the 50th anniversary of the resorts big wedding extravaganza and the guests cannot be disappointed! Family tradition and honor must be upheld. Carina objects that there are no men in her life! But James Decker, the best man for the dissolved wedding steps up. He will be the groom, but he has conditions; he wants the “fake marriage” to be real until Christmas…..almost three weeks away. Carina is stunned! A fake marriage to the cowboy stable manager of the resort….the hottest guy with the sexiest Texas drawl she’s ever heard….the guy she’s had a crush on for ten years? Oh! Hell no. Or…maybe it would be fun, just what she needs for a little distraction from her high pressure job.
That sounds like I’ve told a lot of the story, but I haven’t. That and much more is in the first chapter. The rest of the story is even more fun. Carina and Decker have a very fine, sexy time getting to know each other. Decker learns that Carina has dreams and ambitions that have nothing to do with her demanding job as the event planner for a world renowned wedding destination, dreams that she won’t pursue because of her demanding family and her self-less devotion to them. Carina learns that Decker has plans that will take him away from the resort very soon. Together they learn that maybe dreams and plans can change and be better when love enters the picture.
This is a fun read from beginning to end. I think anyone who enjoys a beautiful story will fall in love along with Carina and Decker. I did.