Customer Reviews: Kissing Under the Mistletoe (A St. Helena Vineyard Novel)
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on May 15, 2014
I've read a bunch of reviews that criticize the vulgar language, but very few who mention that the hero (Gabe) has spent six years ruining the career of a young woman who unwittingly had an affair with his brother-in-law. The heroine was 19 when she dated her 30 year old boss, who was an embezzler and thief. Did no one in the DeLuca family consider that dude might have lied to her too? Or considered that she might have a pretty solid case for sexual harassment against their vineyard. Or for, you know stalking against the hero? In the early scene when she is trying to find a job in town and Gabe keeps scuttling her I kept wanting ONE of the vineyard people to stand up to him and say that he was abusing his influence and they didn't care to do business with someone like him. Gabe starts to have second thoughts when he realizes she lives in, horror of horrors, a 1 bedroom apartment. Did it never occur to him that he was messing with her livelihood? It just drives me crazy when an author punishes women for misunderstandings and rewards men when the regret their own terrible behavior.
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on October 17, 2012
What a great holiday read! I am now officially in the Christmas mood. I love holiday books whether they are Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day or even Halloween but Christmas is my favorite. Adair did not disappoint me in this Christmas read.

Gabe De Luca is the oldest of 5 siblings and has been the head of the family since his parents died when he was twenty-four. He has spent most of his adult life taking care of his siblings and fixing their problems so when he meets Regan Martin he knows he needs to stay away from her.

Regan had the misfortune of falling in love with Gabe's brother in law and ever since then, Gabe has made her life miserable; preventing her from getting jobs, getting her fired, ect. When she finally lands her dream job in Napa Valley she thinks that her life is finally starting to go her way. Little does she know that she has moved into Gabe's hometown.

I really enjoyed this book. From the start we see the clash of Regan and Gabe as they strike sparks off one another. Gabe tries and fails to see her as the home wrecker of his sisters marriage. While Regan tries and fails to ignore Gabe . Regan was great. She is funny, clumsy and has a string of bad luck that is hilarious and sad all at the same time. I loved her interactions with Gabe while they are both fighting their attractions for each other and she is trying every way in the world to find and keep a job and a home for her and her daughter. Gabe, once you got to his reasons for making Regan's life a misery, is a wonderful sweet man that would do anything for his family and has a protective streak a mile wide. The situations that pop up are so funny. I found myself mentally yelling at the pages of the book taking up for Regan or yelling at her, depending on what she was doing.

The chemistry for this couple is sizzling. From the first chapter you can almost see the sparks fly when Gabe and Regan are in a scene together. And while it takes a while for them to consummate their relationship, when they do it was everything I was waiting for. I only wish we had more scenes with them together as a couple once they stopped fighting and were trying to make their relationship work.

I loved how half the towns played a part in this book and the Mrs. Claus's kept popping up. I want to read more of the De Luca family and all the friends that Regan made. What will happen with Abby? How come Frankie seems to be so angry with Trey? This book made me laugh and almost cry several times. I am very excited to read the rest of the series and I hope they come out soon!

book received from author for the purpose of an honest review
Reviewed by Megan
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VINE VOICEon October 15, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book had me scratching my head.

Regan Martin had the bad misfortune at the age of 19 to fall in love with a smooth talking man who was already married. She did not know this and was as much a victim of his perfidy as his wife. Except the wife has a large and loving family who will do anything to protect her. Since the cheating husband has taken a powder and disappeared to parts unknown, all the considerable ire of the vengeance seeking clan falls on the head of the hapless Regan.

The book picks up six years later. Regan, who happens to work in the same industry as the DeLuca family (the family of the wronged wife) has found herself blackballed and unable to find a job. Every time she gets an interview, the oldest DeLuca brother Gabe somehow manages to get to the prospective employer and poor Regan finds herself without prospects again.

However Regan finally gets a break. She gets a job at a small start-up winery in Napa valley and it includes a place to live. This couldn't have come at a better time because Regan is down to the fumes of her savings account and it is Christmas season. She has a young daughter (she was pregnant with married-cheater's child when he took off) who she wants to make this the best Christmas ever. Except, Gabe DeLuca has caught up with her again.

The reason this book has me scratching my head was because I was not sure what tone this author intended to take. On the one hand it sometimes plays out like a sexy comedy. Regan and Gabe spar and twinkle and flirt throughout. They sometimes seem like they are simply playing a fun game of sexy one-upmanship. There are also wacky hijinks involving a reindeer and three busybody old ladies.

Yet at other times, Regan is in the pits of despair. She has been prevented from holding a meaningful job for 6 years through the whims of one vengeful family. Through dialogue and exposition we learn that she and her daughter have lived in a succession of not-very-nice apartments, she has very little money left and is feeling incredibly demoralized. Having been unceremoniously tossed out this job (and home) which she thought was finally going to give her a measure of security, she ends up working as a hotel maid briefly. This is untenable to her because as the daughter of a Mexican illegal immigrant, Regan had been determined not to have the same menial jobs her mother had when she was growing up. And yet, here she was..a maid.

So yeah, there was a bit of cognitive dissonance there. At times the story was engaging and even funny. However, I simply could not resolve how Regan could be feeling any attraction to Gabe considering he had pretty much messed up her livelihood for six years.

To the author's credit, she doesn't make Gabe a total asshat. Once he realizes that his unrelenting campaign has impacted the life of a child (he did not know she had a daughter) he begins to question his actions and tries to make amends. The story does get better once he realizes this, but I had already been so soured on what I felt was such willfully unfair persecution that I couldn't really enjoy the romance between these two.

Another headscratcher is Regan herself. She was 19 when she had the affair and found out she was pregnant with her daughter, still a sophomore in college. And yet she is supposedly some whiz at Marketing at the ripe old age of 24. The job she gets is actually VP of Marketing. I was not convinced that she could have landed such a job considering that she had been denied job opportunities since the affair was discovered. I also kept getting knocked out of the story a bit whenever Regan mentioned her Mexican immigrant mother and her absentee French father because I would idly wonder where the heck the name 'Regan Martin' came from?

Not a bad book by any means. It was a quick read and I did not feel like I was slogging through it nor did I want to chuck it against the wall. But definitely not a winner for me.
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VINE VOICEon December 17, 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I did not like this book. I couldn't bring myself to finish it. The author's use of foul language both in dialogue and as part of the characters' thoughts from the beginning was really a major turnoff for me. I don't pick up a nice holiday-themed novel to read this type of stuff. (Well, in the book the word would not have been "stuff.") I couldn't get into this one at all. I didn't like the heroine or the hero from the start. Both were shallow and vindictive folks. If this is supposed to represent real life--well, no thank you. As hard as it is for good authors to get published, it's really disappointing to see something like this put out as a Christmas related story. The premise of the story was one I never bought into. The characterization and inter-relationships between the guy and the gal were hard to find believable. No 'willing suspension of disbelief' as to the motivations of either of them. I had fully expected to enjoy this book. I like wine and wineries. I love Christmas and love stories. Who doesn't love love? Unfortunately, after managing to choke my way through approximately half of this book, I simply had to give up. This one was making me feel more like Ebeneezer Scrooge than Buddy the Elf. Seriously, I hate to be so harsh, but I truly detested this novel.
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on July 24, 2016
Listened via audible, completely captivated by the narration.
I recommend this to everyone for a great Christmas read.

I've read another book via this author a couple of years ago, Summer In Napa, which was a surprise 5 star read, not realising it was actually book 2 of a series, so I've finally read book 1. Loved it! A well rounded romance, rich small town secondary characters that I fell in love with, a single mother story of whom I just fell in love with her little girl (brilliantly narrated), and a hate to love slow burning romance that I thoroughly enjoyed Him falling for both mom, and her daughter. Honourable mention for the meddling match-making three grannies, who brought great comic relief. This had a rom-com romantic movie ending, if a little predictable, leaves a total smile on your face, and a tear in the eye in happiness, due to the cuteness.

Put this on your Christmas Reading list for December, and I highly recommend you pay the $1.99 for the audible. The narrator has a Joan Cusack quality, great character narration and comedy, also great with translating the sizzle.
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on May 25, 2014
Couldn't believe how easy she forgave him for ruining her life for 6 years while trying to raise a child and put food on the table. He made it his life to keep her out of work and poor. If someone did that to me ( and I am a single mother of daughter also) I could never forgive him but she went so far as to get turned on by him???? How is that possible?
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on August 19, 2016
Normally I love, love this authors books.....this one....not so much. Only got through about a quarter of the book. Gabe literally destroys Regan's life. I understand the she had an unknowing affair with his sisters husband....BUT, she was 19, no idea he was a married dirt bag and thought he was her HEA. So, she ends up alone at 20, 5 mos. pregnant, no family and everytime she gets a job Gabe gets her fired. So, he hassles her for over 5 years....seriously get a fu%&Ing life. It's like he loves kicking her when she is down.....equivalent to kicking a puppy.....and I love puppies. Again, I understand taking up for your sister....but maybe she shouldn't have married an a$$hat....ya think. Just couldn't finish, can't imagine anyone forgiving his way an HEA could be in their future unless it was to other people.
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on June 3, 2014
It's a pity. I really wanted to like this book. But I have never read a romance novel in which I LOATHED the characters as much as I hated the DeLucas (except ChiChi, but she's a Ryo) and Gabe in particular. What an awful, stalkery, creepy man he is - first he destroys Regan's ability to get a job and actually support herself, and then, when he stops actively doing that, he stalks her all over town to either harass her or to grope her.

And what the heck is Isabel's problem? I felt like she was being a witch just because she could. But she and the DeLucas clearly we're having a great time abusing their standing in the community, many times at Regan's expense. Ugh.

And sorry, but I just don't understand why Regan just didn't throat-punch him. No, instead she practically self-finishes whenever he's nearby. Really?

I give it 3 stars because I did like the author's writing style (light and breezy) and I thought the Mrs. Clauses were a hoot. And the language and the sex didn't bother me, they're on a par with other romance novels. But I don't think I am inclined to read the rest of the series. I found myself swearing enough at this book (many quarters for the Dirty Jar) and its awful, awful characters.
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on December 16, 2012
Being the holidays, I wanted to read something romantic centered around the season. In Kissing Under the Mistletoe, I got that and so much more. With a story that is not only delightful and fun, but also highly emotional, I practically used up a box of tissues while getting to know Regan and Gabe in a story set in romantic wine country!

What can I say about Regan Martin? From the start, I found her to be awesome! She's a single mom to almost 6-year old Holly. They recently moved to St. Helena for a fresh start, a dream job for her, and an excellent school for her daughter. Most of all, she wants to give Holly the most perfect Christmas ever! Did I mention that Regan seems to be a little cursed with unfortunate events, too? Ahh, yes! This story had so many laugh-out-loud moments that all the stuff that happens to Regan had me both laughing and crying at the same time! Really, it was like a one step forward, two steps back kind of thing for her. I felt every emotion and sympathized with Regan every step of the way. In fact, I found a lot of the mishaps and sequence of events to be witty and humorous and written so seamlessly!

When you first meet Gabe DeLuca, you will think he is a big, relentless jerk. He is a thorn at Regan's side, because, unintentional or not, he makes life miserable for her. Oh, he has his reasons, but you will quickly find out that Gabe and the DeLuca family jumped to conclusions too quickly when it comes to Regan. His heart and mind begin to change as he and Regan spend more time together. The chemistry between them is pretty intense.

"See, Vixen," he whispered, watching the pulse at the base of her neck skyrocket. "When you refer to stuff, I can only imagine you're talking about how whenever we're together we can't seem to keep our hands off each other. And when we do touch it's so damn combustive it's hard to breathe." --Gabe

Marina Adair, I found your writing to be so clever and refreshing! When I say clever, I'm specifically thinking of all the "Randolph" hilarious! I'm so glad I took a chance on this story! There is no doubt that I will be waiting for and wanting what comes next from you.

Full of small hometown traditions, family, friendships, mischief and Christmas miracles, Kissing Under the Mistletoe is a romantic comedy that can be enjoyed anytime of the year.
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on January 11, 2014
So I've finally had my "come to Jesus" (even though I am a devout atheist) and realized that not all books are written equally, and that different yardsticks must be used.

Am I a snob? Probably. And that's fine.

So, using my less aggressive yardstick I liked this (and the other St. Helena book I read) just fine. I am a sucker for the Napa Valley (which is odd as I don't drink), but that area is gorgeous and I love the juxtaposition of the long-time viti-families and the newly entrenched, often gauche nouveaux riches. The latter especially was in full supply in this story, and I felt the romance angle was stronger in this than in "Summer in Napa."

Regan is a mid-20s single mother, herself the daughter of a hardworking and honest Mexican-immigrant and a French diplomat (so her name makes NO sense whatsoever!). She has been hounded and browbeaten for years by the DeLuca brothers, notably the eldest, Gabe. Regan had unknowingly had an affair with the brothers' sole sister; that errant husband is the father of Regan's daughter.

There's a lot of push / pull between Regan and Gabe, and it's kinda fun. I liked it. I liked how conflicted Gabe was, and I liked what a hard worker Regan is. However, her story was a bit too sad -- the author went overboard with the punishments induced by the DeLucas -- just felt like Too Much. Also, how did Regan afford all the money she had to put into the bad word jar (not what it was called but I cannot now recall its name)? It seemed endless how much she was adding and considering the DeLuca brothers had ruined every single job opportunity for her she and her daughter should have been living in a shelter.

Whatever. A sweet story.
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