RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig


Title: The Mischief of the Mistletoe
Author: Lauren Willig
Publication Info: Dutton 2010
ISBN: 9780525951872
Genre: Historical: European

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.Emily also reviewed this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge, and like a reviewer who I’ll publish soon, wished for a little more steam.

Mischief of the MistletoePlot Summary: Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…

Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation- has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle,” the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? Is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella’s and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?

And now, Emily’s review:

I am a Lauren Willig fangirl. I love her enough to buy hard cover books. I actually met her in person too, and she was lovely, charming, bubbly and gracious. I have read all of her books before this one—The Mischief of the Mistletoe. This means I am familiar not only with Willig, but with Turnip Fitzhugh, the hero of this book.

I really appreciated the fact that having met Turnip before; his character remained consistent. Turnip previously seemed devoid of great intellect and he is still not usually bright. Willig makes him into a hero by focusing on his good heart. I love that he is so pleasant; better than dozens of brooding rakes. Arabella is a good foil for Turnip.  She is so often overlooked than she is appreciative of his good heart and she is able to go along with his quirky, silly conversation.

I have read many books featuring heroines from and having been to Bath seminaries, but this was my first look inside. I really liked seeing inside the school. Most of the girls at the seminary are relatives of other characters but that didn’t seem to be problem. Willig limits the cameos, but they are unavoidable as some of this plot coincides with The Temptation of Night Jasmine, book five.

I love Willig’s light-hearted style. That being said her books work better for me when they are darker.  Missing is the steamy sex from the first three Pink books. She writes loves scenes that work for me, so I wish she would go back to the R rated ones. This book does continue the tradition of espionage in her books. The espionage plot is light hearted and fits the fluffy tone of the book. I just wish the book had been a little steamier and filling.

This book is available from Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | Book Depository | WORD Brooklyn’s eBookstore

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ros says:

    I’m afraid the plot summary lost me at ‘Jane Austen’ and ‘Miss Climpson’.

  2. 2
    Miranda says:

    I absolutely LOVED this book. My personal grade was an A+++ and it’s my favorite in the Pink Carnation series. I laughed until I cried at Turnip and especially at his sister. I almost hyperventilated over the Christmas pageant.

  3. 3
    Jilli-Bean says:

    I love this book to pieces. To the point where I bought it in hardback too. I actually read it in one day. Such a fun book.

  4. 4

    I have been reading this series since she first started publishing them and I think this is my favorite so far.  I adore Turnip and I loved reading it back to back with Night Jasmine.

    I have hooked a couple of my teachers on the series as well.  I am going to be in trouble with one when she finishes the published books because she is not going to want to wait for the next one.

  5. 5
    LizW65 says:

    I read this over Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I loved the humor and numerous shout-outs to P.G. Wodehouse and Blackadder, and Turnip as a hero worked surprisingly well.  He came off as kind of a Regency Bertie Wooster.  His sister and her friends were excellent supporting characters as well; I hope to see more of them in future books.

  6. 6
    Diva says:

    I loved the first four books in this series, but Night Jasmine and Blood Lily both lost my attention. This one sounds good, though!

  7. 7
    Nadia says:

    I enjoyed the fluffiness and humor of this book, but wouldn’t want a steady diet of it.  Agree with you that she can manage sex and sexual tension well and thought that Night Jasmine in particular could have used spicing up.  I think my favorite is still Crimson Rose.

  8. 8
    sweetsiouxsie says:

    I love, love, love this series!!! I read all of the existing books back to back this winter. They were thoroughly entertaining. I was glad to see Turnip get his own book and his own delightful life partner. I hope the younger siblings from the school get a story of their own. They were pretty tough cookies.

  9. 9
    Davi says:

    I’ve been trying to stretch this series out as long as possible and now I want to rush through so I can read this one!  I just finished Night Jasmine, which might be my favorite – of course so are the first and second books. I’m SO happy to hear Turnip got his own boom after all this time, but I have to know, what’s going on with Eloise and Colin?

  10. 10
    cate says:

    I adored this book. Turnip is such a wonderful change from the Alpha male of the romance novel. He is , in essence, a Chap…. A thoroughly good sort, who NEVER asks for directions, is content to stand in the background – & doesn’t recognise what a good thing Arabella is when he initially meets her( 3 times !!) As for Arabella, she’s a delight – the brains to his brawn. All that suppressed wit just waiting for Turnip to discover & celebrate
      As for the truly inspired disposal methods of the iniquitous Christmas puddings – Genius just Genius ! ( I hate them, I hate making them, & I hate eating them. And no, I don’t have a choice. Apparently I’m rather good at them & my family lurves them. So I dread October when they have to be made ! but stir – up Sunday’s quite good fun).
      My rating follows another here, & that was A+++++++++. Loved it.

  11. 11
    Alice says:

    Does anyone else think that Ryan McPartlin, the actor who plays “Awesome” on the TV show “Chuck” (http://chuck-nbc.wikia.com/wiki/Devon_Woodcomb) would make a great Turnip in a movie version? He plays the smart-but-dumb role so very well!

  12. 12
    Rebecca (another one) says:

    I loved it.  Didn’t notice the lack of sexxing, because it was so much fun.  And I prefer the lack of sex in the regency, because too often we find sex being added, whether it goes against character or not.

    My grade A+

  13. 13

    Alice, I’ve never seen “Chuck”, but in that picture, Awesome looks EXACTLY like Turnip!  Much more so than any other actor I’ve seen.  Hmmm….

  14. 14

    I know it’s invasive for the author to elbow in, but I wanted to say, thanks, Emily, for the lovely review, and huge hugs to all the Turnipsians (Turnipophiles?) in the comments section.  You’ve warmed the cockles of my heart like Christmas pudding.  Okay, maybe not like pudding.  But you get the idea.  Thank you!!! 

    Now off to tackle Miss Gwen….

  15. 15
    Jilli-Bean says:

    Ermmm… I don’t post on blogs often. In fact, SBTB is possibly the only one with which I do so consistently. Does the above happen a lot because I just stared at my computer utterly agog for a few minutes.

  16. 16
    Donna says:

    @Jilli-bean, yes, yes it does. And aren’t we the lucky ones for it.

  17. 17
    Kelly says:

    Turnip? I don’t think I’d be able to get past that, to be honest.

  18. 18
    LizW65 says:

    @Alice and Lauren Willig:  A bit OT, but I’ve thought for a long time that Ryan McPartlin would be perfect as Carrot from Discworld, providing he could do an English accent.  He really does that “smart dumb guy” thing so well.

    spamword:  hot67 Say no more!

  19. 19
    Sarah says:

    I love Lauren Willig and the Pink Carnation series and I loved this book because it was lighter and fluffier than the other books.  I always felt bad for poor Turnip and I’m so happy that he not only got his own book but his own heroine.  Plus I enjoy the fact that Arabella is a working girl who can support herself with or without a man and ends up with a wonderful man who loves her.

  20. 20
    Julia says:

    I enjoyed this book.  It works as a fun, light holiday book.  I will say, however, that I think Willig really shines as an author when it comes to writing stories for her anti-heroines.  I’ve read the whole series, and I think that The Seduction of the Crimson Rose is by far the best.  For me Mary is by far the most interesting character in the books because she feels the most real (followed closely by Penelope Deveraux in The Betrayal of the Blood Lily).  I think the fact that she’‘s flawed and difficult makes her much more interesting.

    I enjoyed Arabella because she was more complicated than your average heroine.  You understand and sympathize with some of the decisions she makes in the book because she is required to work to make her way.  It’s an additional dimension to a character that you don’t often come across in Regencies.

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