“…a holiday novella you’ll want to devour like Santa chowing down on milk and cookies…”

~ Under the Covers

Recommended Read!

In a holiday novella you’ll want to devour like Santa chowing down on milk and cookies, Chloe Liese delivers some of my favorite tropes and includes some fantastic representation – just in time for the holiday season.

As co-managers of Bailey’s Bookshop for the past year, Gabriella Di Natale and Jonathan Frost couldn’t be more opposite. Gabby is pure sunshine to Jonathan’s grump. Jonathan is all analytics and financials where Gabby is more creative. Gabby reads romances while Jonathan prefers thrillers. They haven’t really seen eye to eye since Jonathan was hired, and have more or less been in a silent competition with each other to impress the owners. But when the big chain bookstore across town compromises the future of Bailey’s, the owners announce they might be able to afford only one manager in the new year. Gabby and Jonathan realize they will have to put their past differences aside if the bookstore is going to survive after the holidays. But as they work towards saving their job, Gabby and Jonathan experience their own Christmas miracle when the magic of the bookstore causes love to bloom between the pages in Bailey’s Bookshop.

The Mistletoe Motive is one of my favorite holiday reads this year, and will likely have a place in my heart for years to come. As a neurodivergent author, Liese beautifully infused Gabby with all the highs and lows of living with a neurodivergent brain, from artistically creating displays in the bookstop to struggling to read Jonathan’s moods and demeanors. Gabby was such a positive representation of a person with autism, both in professional and personal environments, and I absolutely loved this character and everything she went through. Her counterpart, Jonathan, was also perfect in his portrayal as a Type 1 diabetic. For purely personal reasons (I was diagnosed with the disease when I was five), I was overjoyed to see not only diabetes represented in a romance, but also to see it in a main character – that seemingly hardly ever happens. And speaking from personal experience, Liese nails Jonathan and his T1 symptoms: from coming off as abrupt or grumpy when blood sugars get low, to the need to constantly check blood sugar levels and keeping stashes of emergency candy just about everywhere. Both of these characters were so well done, and represented their respective challenges so well. It was wonderful to see Jonathan be so attentive to Gabby’s touch and smell sensitivities, and to see Gabby thoughtful in regards to Jonathan’s insulin pump tubing; too often, it seems like invisible challenges just magically go away when the characters get to the bedroom, but Liese was cognizant of potential issues Gabby and Jonathan might run into the whole time and I could not have loved those little details more.

This holiday romance is sure to give readers plenty of feelings. Liese gives us slow burn, opposites attract, grumpy/sunshine, enemies to lovers – all wrapped up in a holiday novella complete with suggested songs to play to put readers in the mood for each chapter. The heat between Jonathan and Gabby was palpable and was frankly more than I was expecting, and it was such a fun journey watching Gabby slowly think of Johathan as more than her competition. Liese incorporated a lot into this novella: she touched on the struggles of small, independent bookstores up against large chain stores; we see a small taste of the chaos of working retail during the holiday season; and we see two people who slowly realize that there is a lot more to their coworker than they ever knew.

The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese combines a perfect blend of tropes with such wonderfully real characters, then adds in the magic of the holidays and sets it all in a bookstore – creating a holiday romance sure to please even the biggest Grinch-y reader this holiday season.


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[about-author author=”Chloe Liese”]

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