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.Abby reviewed this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge, and she had nearly the same reaction as Emily.
Book CoverPlot 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, Abby’s review:

So, I read The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig.  I am really glad I signed up, because basically I’ve spent the last two and a half weeks reading the entire series, even though it turns out that wasn’t really necessary to follow that particular book.  It has not been conducive to finishing my coursework.  Anyway, on to the review!


I really, really, really enjoyed this book, and it definitely deserves all three of those reallys, but I struggled to grade it on account of its One Major Flaw, which merits a confession on my part, and an explanation of what I love about romance novels.  I love characters who get unexpected chances at romance, and Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh’s Senior Superlative would definitely be “Least Likely To Play a Romantic Lead.”  He’s not dark, moody, or even clever, but he is refreshingly open and honest.  Although I sometimes grew impatient with the heroine, Arabella Dempsey, Turnip kept me coming back for more.  One of my other favorite qualities in a romance novel is an absurd and ridiculous plot, and this is where Willig truly delivers.  Spies!  Secret messages in Christmas puddings!  A girls’ school!  A nativity play to rival The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!  The most bumbling hero ever!  (Seriously, only the ubiquitous Francis Henning could be more unexpected).


So… about that One Major Flaw?  Fellow bitches, I confess, I read romance novels for the sex.  I love that moment when my beloved protagonists finally get to consummate their feelings, and in this novel, I was absolutely dying for it.  I wanted it to be awkward and sweet and real, and then it just… wasn’t.  So that’s it.  That’s why it gets a B+ from me instead of an A.  Judge me all you want, but I think the Turnip Fitzhughs of the world deserve their moment in the sexytimes sun just as much as those brooding mysterious types!

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

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Chelsea says:

    I read romance novels for many reasons, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that the sex is one of those reasons. So no judgement from me.

  2. 2
    kkw says:

    I agree with Chelsea, no judgement.  There are romances without sex that I adore but I think every single one of them was written by Georgette Heyer.  Come on, who doesn’t like sex?
    On the other hand, I’ve read a whole bunch of Willig books trying to figure out why everyone likes her and it utterly escapes me.  I would rather have spent all that time reading The Scarlet Pimpernel over and over again, even if I had to do it back to back.  And it doesn’t have any sex either.

  3. 3

    This is one of my favorite books in the series.  I am so glad Turnip finally found love.  I read it back-to-back with Robert’s and Charlotte’s book, so it almost seemed like one story.

    A friend of mine missed the Collin and Eloise storyline, but I am getting a little tired of it myself.

  4. 4
    LizW65 says:

    While I’m usually indifferent to sex scenes in general, I was actually relieved by the lack of their inclusion in this novel.  To me, it would have been squicky and icky—kind of like stumbling upon an R-rated scene in a novel by P.G. Wodehouse.  So, kudos to Willig for having the guts not to cave to popular demand in this instance.

  5. 5
    Katherine says:

    For me, a good sex scene in an otherwise good book is fabulous. It cannot save an otherwise bad book, and it can sometimes pull up an otherwise ho-hum book into the “worth the time” category.

    But a good book is a good book and does not in any way NEED the sex. Which I guess is why so many of us still adore Heyer after all these years. :)

    I thought this book was sweet, and didn’t miss the sex. But that’s just me…

  6. 6
    kkw says:

    So I just discovered that Project Gutenberg has recently added more of Orczy’s stuff if anyone wants to download it: http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/o#a45

  7. 7
    kkw says:

    Also tons of Wodehouse (although I don’t think they’ve added any very recently). http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/w#a783
    I love free books.

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