Above the Mistletoe (Haven Creek) – ARC review

Above the Mistletoe
by Michele Arris
Release Date: November 3, 2022
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #1 in the Haven Creek series
Number of pages: 238
Source:  ARC from the publisher
Contemporary Romance
Ages 15 and up
Sometimes, it takes more than mistletoe to find true love.

Reyna Star, owner of North Star Private Car, is drawn to Hawk Swan’s rugged good looks when she picks him up for his holiday party weekend, but she knows his type, and she’s not interested. However, she does pocket more than a generous tip from her passenger—when one of Hawk’s companions mentions the Berkshires as the perfect place to go skiing, Reyna decides to spend Christmas there with her teenage daughter, Lily, and rebuild their bond.

Custom woodcrafter, Julian “Hawk” Swan is tired of the single life and wants to settle down. When Reyna arrives in Haven Creek, he seizes the chance to fix her first impression of him. Attraction burns bright between them, but there are those not warming up to their relationship—Lily is acting out, Hawk’s cousin worries about potential hardships in their romance, and even Reyna’s ex is too close for comfort. Plus there’s Reyna’s business, firmly entrenched in Miami.

This Christmas, can Reyna and Hawk rise above these holiday hurdles and build a lasting future?

Although this story had tons of potential, it ended up in the middle of the road for me. Since it’s a new-to-me author, I’m sure I’ll give her another go. I enjoyed the setting and would like to see more stories with the people of Haven Creek.

To start, Reyna and Hawk are both wonderful characters. They feel an instant connection and attraction to one another. Reyna, being a single mom and small business owner, cuts things off before they can start…or so she thinks. Turns out, her impromptu vacation with her teenage daughter Lily lands them right on Hawk’s doorstep.

Here’s where some of my issues start to come into play. I’m all for suspension of disbelief. It’s needed to move many stories along. I just wish this vacation had another source because one minute Reyna is worrying about money flow with her business, and the next she’s going on a weeks-long vacation out of state. How does she afford something like that? Seriously. She’s not poor, by any means. But the last-minute booking in a tourist town the weeks before Christmas is a lot of dough. Still, for the most part, I was able to look past that other than when an extravagant purchase was made here and there which made me think about it again.

That being said, I enjoyed the romance brewing between Hawk and Reyna. I found their second meeting to be more of their meet-cute and I cannot imagine how I would react in such a situation. Everyone in town is friendly and open and giving. There were times Hawk’s cousin bothered me, but I also know he was trying to be the voice of reason when he saw Hawk moving a bit fast into a relationship with someone who didn’t even live around them. Other than Hawk’s suspicions about Reyna’s ex, which were annoying, he stood up for his feeling for Reyna and didn’t let her moody teenager scare him away. In fact, he embraced the fact that Reyna is a mother and had different needs in a relationship than other women he dated. Because Hawk was so great, it was hard for me when he and his cousin would question Reyna’s deal with her ex about not introducing their daughter to people they are dating right away. In a divorce where the parents truly care about the well-being of their child, the parents absolutely will consult one another and will be open with each other about things that affect the child, such as boyfriends. It’s not outlandish and it’s not suspicious.

There were times I found myself being harder on Reyna than I should be. With her past with her ex-husband, it’s completely understandable that Reyna would never want to put a man ahead of her own goals in life. She’s worked hard for all she has and shouldn’t have to give any of that up for a relationship. Reyna and Hawk both react badly to certain circumstances, but they both think through those reactions and realize where they went wrong and admitted that instead of getting defensive, which helped to keep this story from spiraling into a not-so-good rating.

To sum it up, this story was interesting and I liked the couple when they were together on the page. There was a bit too much that didn’t make sense when it came to the day-to-day stuff but was overridden by some great characters. I’ll give this author another try.

3 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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