Reviewed by Emma Crowley
Growing up on Hope Island, Eden Lancaster always believed that if you wished hard enough for something, dreams really could come true. But Eden’s greatest wish is also her biggest secret: she has been completely in love with her childhood friend, the charming and attractive Dougie Harrison, for as long as she can remember. And he has no idea.
When Dougie leaves his successful life in New York to return home to Hope Island for good, Eden can’t escape her feelings. Her heart is full of hope that her romantic dreams are finally, at long last, going to come true…
This Christmas could change everything. But can a lifelong friendship really turn into the perfect romance? And will Eden get the happily ever after she’s always wished for?
Many thanks to Bookouture for my copy of Christmas at Mistletoe Cove to review via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.
Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is the third and last in the Hope Island series by Holly Martin. I feel like I am always saying this but again this book is easily read as a standalone if you haven't read the first two in the series. The fact that this can be read on its own means the author has supplied enough of a back story so the reader doesn't feel like they are missing out on huge chunks of the previous stories. We have already read of Bella and Issac and Rome and Freya so now our attention turns to Eden and Dougie. What I like about this series is that there are no pretensions as to what they eventual outcome will be. It's fairly obvious to everyone, the readers included, except for the pair in question what will happen but in the case of this series I feel it's really more about the journey to get to that point that really makes the books so enjoyable.
Holly Martin certainly writes romance really well and in this book there were a few scenes that were just so perfect and really portrayed the love Dougie and Eden felt for each other. Yes there are lots of trials and tribulations, misunderstandings and secrets along the way but that all adds to the fun and the question of actually will they or won't they get their act together and realise what all the residents of Hope Island and their friends and family can see?
Eden Lancaster is the sister of Rome and Bella whose own relationship status' have been established in the first two books. She runs the local pottery painting café Pots and Paints with help from Claire. I was delighted now was the chance to finally get to know Eden as I felt she had been very much hovering on the periphery in previous books. She has been waiting impatiently to share her story and for her chance at long term romance to hopefully come her way. Eden is very nervous as her best friend Dougie Harrison is coming home from America after many years away from the island. He has decided to sell everything and buy a small cottage next to Eden's. You would think Eden would be over the moon with this. The best friend she misses so desperately is coming back for good. In fact it's the complete opposite and she is a total bag of nerves. For as long as she can remember she has been madly in love with Dougie but has never had the courage to confess her feelings to bare all to him. I thought how on earth if you love someone so much could you be around them and act all normal without giving away what was always running through your heart and mind. It must have been killing Eden to keep everything all bundled up. Even her friends and fellow islanders could see what Eden was going through. So why couldn't Dougie?
In one way I understood why Eden kept everything bottled up and at other points in the story the further everything developed I thought she was totally over acting and not appreciating what was unfolding in her life. By not telling Dougie how she was feeling she could keep her feelings to herself and the fear of said feelings not being reciprocated would never happen. At the heart of it all she didn't want their fantastic friendship to be ruined and I got that. But sometimes I feel we have to grab every opportunity and express how we feel. Forget the consequences, if your heart is saying one thing, go for it. If you don't you would always live with regrets for the rest of your life. If Eden didn't get everything off her chest it would only make her miserable and she would never find happiness in her life. So Eden questions why Dougie is forgoing his dream of making it big in the gaming world in America? Has Dougie something up his sleeve? Maybe he is much more in tune with Eden than she realises. Maybe the two of them needed to be locked in a room until they confessed how they felt seep down and then they could have dealt with the fallout or not? Eden was in pain, not the physical sort more the kind that is on your mind and in your heart every moment of every day. She really couldn't have gone on like that in the long term.
For two people that were only supposed to be friends they certainly were very touchy feely so it was obvious what was going to unfold but it's the manner in which it did that was both lovely and very frustrating at times. I thought the whole idea of Mistletoe Cove was just gorgeous and so romantic. If you go to the blow hole at Mistletoe Cove at midnight, having written three wishes on a piece of paper you throw it in, said wishes will come true. This is what Eden does. Mistletoe Cove was a special place for Eden when growing up and a certain something that happened there many years ago has always been at the forefront of her mind. I'll admit the 'magic' element of the book seemed over the top. I knew there had to be something else behind it but the way Eden reacts and gets all caught up with it in very much the wrong way with regard to the 'magic' made me very annoyed and frustrated with her. As I've said I wanted her to stop and appreciate what she had and not seek affirmations and concrete proof of stuff. Things were turning around for her and why couldn't she go with the flow and not stop and question everything at every juncture. She had the man of her dreams right before her, why couldn't she just leap into his arms and never let go ? Instead doubt and mistrust crept it's way in.
For me Dougie definitely rivalled Issac in the battle for who was the 'best man' in the Hope Island series. I thought he was sensible and had a good head on his shoulders. He was a natural flirt who made women swoon at his feet but he only had eyes for one woman. It's just a pity the path to true romance and honesty with his good intentions proved so rocky and not without its faults. Dougie was so incredibly romantic, every little thing was so well thought out and I think the bath scenes was very steamy, excuse the pun. Holly Martin can write scenes that have you wishing it was you actually with Dougie or whoever the man in question is according to whatever book you are reading. I could understand Dougie's hesitancy in relation to what he wanted for the future considering his past experiences with what happened to his parents marriage but I think Hope Island and Eden very much held a special place in his heart. Therefore over time and the fact he loves making people feel good about themselves someone may well just do the same for him. I fervently wished himself and Eden could get over their issues and get all the truth out in the open. It would be such a shame if two people who were destined to be together couldn't bare their souls and unite as they should do.
As Christmas was in the title, it surely had to be mentioned in the book. It wasn't to in your face but the descriptions of the island over the Christmas period and the Christmas festival as organised by Bella were wonderful. They certainly got me in the festive mode with all the glorious descriptions of the food and various activities. I really enjoyed Christmas at Hope Island. It was a lovely conclusion to the series. Overall I would place it second behind Spring at Blueberry Bay. This was an honest, romantic, sparkling and captivating read that proves Holly Martin never disappoints with any of her books.
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