Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Michael Dean
Length: 9 hours, 51 minutes
This is a review of a collection of four stories that feature Christmas sprites who find their fated mates and get a huge boost of magic during the holiday season.
Nyall is a magical sprite baker, owner of Mistledough, and a longtime resident of Mistletoe Falls with his three magical cousins, Eldon, Oberon, and Linus. Aaron is an investigative reporter, sent to Mistletoe Falls as a punishment from his boss/dad who runs the TV station. It seems Aaron tried to run a story on corruption that could have implicated dear family friends, and now Aaron’s producing feel-good pieces for the month of December. Nyall and Aaron literally collide the moment Aaron arrives, and are immediately caught in flirtatious banter.
Neither man can anticipate the pull they experience, but Nyall’s more worried that his magic is going haywire. From decorating cookies in Aaron’s image, to exploding lights and random decorating when they kiss, Nyall’s afraid his wonky magic could blow his cover if Aaron can see past his attraction. As they get closer to each other, the real world comes knocking, and the bond they have developed is tested. Nyall’s cousins help him see that Aaron’s likely his fated mate–a rare occurrence, or so they believe–and to keep the faith. For which he is sexily rewarded.
Meanwhile, Oberon’s a sprite carpenter who’s life is spent spreading cheer and rehabbing buildings in Mistletoe Falls. He’s currently helping the new veterinarian, Miles, and his young daughter, Holly, to settle in their home on the town square. Miles adores Holly, who he had with a surrogate, and lavishes his attention on her. Guilty about uprooting her life, Miles hires Oberon to redesign a room for Holly’s crafts, as well as redecorate her new bedroom. Oberon, and the rest of the Mistletoe crew, also pitch in to decorate the good doctor’s home, so he’s not cited for lack of cheer on the light parade route where he lives.
Oberon and Miles are attracted from the start, and Oberon’s magic is refinishing desks for Holly, and helping to avert a shelter crisis that leaves Miles swamped with puppies and cats to re-home. He sees the same wonky magic pattern as Nyall had, and recognizes that Miles is his fated mate. He’d like to keep that to himself, but he’s bound to tell his cousins–especially once Eldon’s magic takes a turn.
Eldon’s a crafty sprite with the decorations supply shop on the square. The old-fashioned soda store next to his was recently leased by a stranger, the secretive but seductive Tate. Tate, who has no plans to reopen the shop and only leased the building for the third floor lighting that would suit his artistic passions. Tate’s hiding in Mistletoe Falls to escape his business savvy family and their holiday hospitality demands. Eldon wants Tate to keep the traditions of the town, and is irritated with Tate’s lackadaisical efforts to decorate in an Eldon-approved manner.
Eldon and Tate are caught in a stand-off, attraction sparking Eldon’s magic to even greater decorative feats, even though he doesn’t trust Tate’s story or motivation. While both men are playing it safe, the magic won’t quit pushing them together. Their enemies-to-lovers vibe is sweet and sexy, and very nearly sends Linus around the bend with jealousy that all his cousins have found their mates and he’s still alone.
Linus runs the B & B in town, so he’s met nearly all the mates before his cousins, and he’s beyond tired of waiting for his mate to arrive. Linus believes his solitary status is the result of irritating some spirit, so he plans a huge pyre offering to atone for whatever he’s done to anger the powers above him. If only Tate’s best friend, Colby, who arrived in Mistletoe Falls to ensure his BFF wasn’t being led astray by a manipulator, wasn’t always messing up Linus’ plans.
It turns out that Linus is as accident-prone as they come. So Colby, a single lawyer and guest at the inn, has his hands full preventing Linus falling from his roof, crashing Oberon’s restored vintage truck, or burning down the B & B with his pyre. Not to mention potentially sacrificing a baby goat to the gods of Yule.
Linus and Colby seem as odd a couple as could be imagined, but Colby’s pragmatism really balances Linus’ whimsy. And, who else could get monotone Colby wearing rainbow-patterned Christmas sweaters? Linus’ magic definitely catches Colby’s attention, sending his lawyer brain for a loop. Which luckily helps convince Colby that he’s falling hard for a magical man.
As an audiobook, this collection was adorable. Each novella is about 8-10 chapters, roughly 2 hours in the audio. Michael Dean’s always good with emoting the characters, and did admirably well making the many characters sound different. From young Holly through older female supporting characters, to all four sprites and their mates and some family members, it was a LOT of people to keep track of. Yet, I didn’t feel confused — once I understood which book I was hearing. As a collection, there wasn’t a huge delay or distinction moving from one book to the next. The first transition was the most jarring, but once I figured out we had moved to Oberon’s story, I was able to anticipate the next two transitions.
For fans of light paranormal romance, and holiday romances, in particular, this is a knock out of a collection. Four stories bundled into one, with a constant stream of happily ever afters? Yes, please. I’ve listened to it multiple times and have continued to enjoy.