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By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 

Mushy holiday indulgences

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment


December 17, 2022

You are probably too busy to sit down and read at the moment, but I like to call the days between Christmas and New Years "the lull," where one can take a breath, slow down and enjoy some goodies with a good book or two. Maybe not too serious a book, full of dark motives and deep contemplation. But rather books with a lighter mood and happy endings. I found a few mushy romances and mysteries for your reading pleasure.

To qualify, the cover needs to have snow, perhaps with a sprig of holly or mistletoe. The characters should be people who are in a quandary during the holiday season. There needs to be a handsome carpenter, real estate agent, plumber or perhaps a hermit in a log cabin. And the love connections need not be a big screen drama in the making, but rather a clumsy fall in the snow, an overflowing toilet or a collision on a rural road as the main character is looking at Google Maps. 

The ending should most definitely be mushy, where all of a sudden the couple so full of contradictions give into their emotions. And when there is a mystery involved, the whole story becomes even more engaging, with its extra twists and turns. Who doesn't love a good murder mystery that ends with a kiss?

"A Mistletoe Murder" by Necole Ryse is a good place to start, as it is a novella which means shorter book and a fast read. Ashton Chambers wants to go home. But after a divorce and with his Christmas spirit almost non-existent, he is at a loss choosing a destination. Finally deciding to take a train to his brother, that decision comes with a murder and a meet cute with one very grinchy woman, Mikayla Thompson, who initially is accused of the crime. But if she did not commit the murder, the murderer is still at large on the train. And there lies the conundrum! Who to trust and how to stay safe and save Christmas?

Allie Pleiter offers her Christmas mystery in "It Came Upon a Midnight Shear." Unravel this cozy mystery in a yarn shop where the main character's ex-husband is found dead. Can handcuffs be festive?

In the Edwardian style Pennyfoot Hotel, Kate Kingsbury weaves both a murder mystery and a curse in her book "A Merry Murder." Full bookings and beautiful decorations seems to have the Pennyfoot Hotel looking toward a profitable holiday season. That is until a man's body is found with a holiday red scarf wound too tightly around his neck. Death fills the laundry room and the staff and authorities are faced with a teeming hotel full of potential suspects. The setting is in Badger's Inn, England. Can they save a Happy Christmas for those still breathing? 

"The Cranberry Inn" by Barbara Josselsohn is touted as a feel good Christmas romance. No murder here but a mystery of why her father has left a note and will be missing until Christmas. The inn is in disrepair, but the brooding local carpenter arrives, a handsome childhood friend of Laurel's, offering to help her with his carpentry skills. Of course, romance is in the crisp winter air.

Jennifer Griffith's "The Holiday Hunting Lodge" pits a successful music composer, Jesse Parrish, facing a deadline and also writers block, alongside an aspiring private pilot, Mattie Daines. Her previous crush on Jesse had not gone well. A secluded hunting lodge, bad weather and a dangerous flight in a small plane completes the mix of challenges both Jesse and Mattie face on a mountain alone.

"The Christmas Letters" by Jenny Hale are found during Elizabeth's return to her family home in the Smoky Mountains. Running away from the breakup of a seven year relationship, she finds herself in a deeper life changing crisis. Will she lose everything she thought was real? Or will this be her biggest gift ever? 

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. And when all the festivities are over and you find yourself beyond the holiday weekend, you have time for yourself, time to indulge in a hobby or long crisp walks in nature, or sinking into a cozy chair with a list of lightweight books to relax in. Reading for fun is a gift to self. Maybe you like historical novels, self help books, or sci-fi, or like I listed above, a grouping of both romance and mystery to take you away to a safe, satisfying and restful place. Nothing too deep. Nothing too scary. Take time to replenish. With mysteries and mushy love stories, relish the kiss! Happy Holidays!

Good Books. Good reading.

*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.


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