A review by kelly_e
The Mistletoe Motive by Chloe Liese

funny hopeful lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Title: The Mistletoe Motive
Author: Chloe Liese
Genre: Romance Novella
Rating: 3.75
Pub Date: December 1, 2021

T H R E E • W O R D S

Brief • Angsty • Steamy

📖 S Y N O P S I S

He loathes the holidays. She loves them. She’s full of festive cheer. He’s brimming with Bah, Humbugs. Besides unreasonably seasonable names, the only thing Jonathan Frost and Gabriella Di Natale have in common is a healthy dose of mutual contempt. Well, that and the same place of employment at the city’s most beloved independent bookstore, Bailey’s Bookshop. But when the store’s owners confess its dire financial state, Jonathan and Gabby discover another unfortunate commonality: the imminent threat of unemployment.

With the Baileys’ requests to minimize expenses, win new customers, and make record sales dancing in their heads, Jonathan and Gabby conclude—barring a financial Christmas miracle—one of them will soon be cut from the payroll. Neither are willing to step down from their position, so they strike a bargain: whoever has more sales in December gets to stay on in the new year; the loser will resign. With a lifetime's worth of festive tricks up her sleeve, Gabby should easily outsell her nemesis, except the unreadable Mr. Frost’s every move seems purely designed to throw her off her game.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Gabby's deceptive ex won't quit pursuing her, and her anonymous online friend suggests they take a break. Worst of all, as the pressure mounts to save the bookshop and her job, Gabby meets a new, tender side of Jonathan. Is this the same man she's called her cold-hearted enemy?

Maybe he’s got a motive she just can’t figure out—or maybe Jonathan Frost isn’t as chilly as she once thought. Maybe Jonathan and Gabby already know—and love—each other in ways they never thought possible.

💭 T H O U G H T S

Chloe Liese's Bergman Brothers series has quickly become a favourite romance series of mine, so I was interested in picking up The Mistletoe Motive when I stumbled upon it at a local garage sale. Knowing it also takes place in a bookstore was the icing on the cake, and it was one of the holiday books I put on my TBR for the holiday season.

With strong You've Got Mail vibes this open door, grumpy/sunshine romance was a quick, fun holiday read. The bookstore setting was fantastic. The writing was accessible and flowed easily. Even though everything is fairly predictable, I enjoyed how Johnathan and Gabriella really opened up to one another and how they come together to save the bookstore.

Chloe Liese is known for writing romance with diverse characters, and here she offers positive, authentic representation of neurodivergence, specifically autism; asexuality, specifically demisexuality; and chronic illness, specifically Type I diabetes. She details in her author's note at the beginning that two of these are her lived experience and how she uses her own experiences to shape her characters.

Overall, The Mistletoe Motive was fun, steamy holiday romance I enjoyed. At 179 pages, this novella explores so many things, but it never felt like I needed more. It's probably not a book I'd consider re-reading, yet I definitely look forward to continuing to explore Chloe Liese work and would recommend this as a cozy holiday read.

📚 R E C O M M E N D • T O
• readers looking for a bookstore romance
• fans of enemies-to-lovers trope
• Hallmark movie enthusiasts

🔖 F A V O U R I T E • Q U O T E S

"Just because you’re loving them differently than they love doesn’t make it any less loving. My mom says there are countless kinds of love, and love enough for everyone. That love is an infinite resource whose expressions are just as innumerable." 

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