Review: 'It Must Have Been the Mistletoe' by Judy Astley (2014)
Thea's parents decide to host a big family Christmas in a house by the sea. even though they are, in fact, about to split up. Thea herself is newly single - her sister and brother are both settled, with children, homes and a future. But Thea's boyfriend has ditched her in favour of his pedigree dogs, and Thea can't decide whether or not she minds.
There will be copious food and drink, holly and mistletoe, lots of bracing walks and a wintry barbecue on the beach. If it seems an odd way to celebrate the final break-up of a marriage and the Moving On to new partners, no- one is saying so. But then no-one had anticipated that the new partners might actually turn up to complicate the sleeping arrangements.
As Cornwall experiences the biggest snowstorm in living memory, the festive atmosphere comes under some strain. Will Thea manage to find some happiness for herself? Will the mistletoe work its magic on them all?
If I have to pick one review copy from this year that really immediately put me in the Christmas spirit, it's most likely Judy Astley's 'It Must Have Been the Mistletoe'. Not only is the cover simply lovely, but the review copy was actually wrapped as a Christmas present when it arrived in my mailbox! I thought this was a great touch (almost as if Christmas had come early!) and it only made me more excited about picking up the book. I was really looking forward to reading another Judy Astley story after having read 'In the Summertime' (click here to read my review) earlier this year; a novel which I really enjoyed. So, I had my fingers crossed for another enjoyable read!
Thea's parents, Anna and Mike, have decided to get divorced after many happy years of marriage, but they want to have one more big happy family Christmas before everything changes. For this occassion, they have rented a big holiday home in Cornwall where all family members are expected to spend the holidays. While her siblings Emily and Jimi will bring their partners and children, Thea knows she will be going alone after her longterm boyfriend decided it wasn't working out between the two of them. Thea wants to do anything to keep her mind off her broken heart, and with the new partners of her parents unexpectedly arriving in Cornwall, combined with the visits of handsome holiday home owner Sean, there is more than enough to keep her distracted...
I honestly loved everything about this novel; such a wonderful Christmas read! There's an interesting storyline, a great cast of characters, and I personally fell head over heels in love with the setting, the holiday home in Cornwall. Judy Astley managed to make it sound like such an incredible place; the beautiful home near the sea, the snow, and combined with that magical Christmas feeling it seemed just perfect. Thea was a lovely protagonist; I easily warmed to her and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending for her. Her family members are all entertaining characters as well, and I also specifically liked Sean, the owner of the holiday home the family is staying at. He's an amazing guy, and in my opinion a Christmas novel is never complete without a touch of romance!
This is the second Judy Astley book I've read and I have to say I really enjoy her stories. Her writing style is well-paced and detailed; she's a great storyteller and I will definitely pick up more of her works in the future. I don't really have anything else to add; this book is jam packed with Christmas cheer, family troubles, romance, snow and mistletoe, and I didn't want it to end! 'It Must Have Been the Mistletoe' is a wonderfully festive read that is all about family and being with the ones you love and a novel that definitely has that magic touch of Christmas!