cover image Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

Jenny Bayliss. Putnam, $17 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-42222-9

This slow but sweet romance from Bayliss (The Twelve Dates of Christmas) sees a group of boarding school friends reuniting for a Christmas wedding in the campus’s castle, sparking new concerns, old grief, and, of course, love. As teens, Nory and her clique bullied Isaac, the son of their elite British boarding school’s gardener. Though Nory was a scholarship kid, she got caught up in the posh hierarchy and behaved just as badly as her friends. When the group comes together again as adults—minus one of their own, who died by suicide—there’s plenty they reminisce on fondly, but they flinch at their past behavior toward Isaac and seek him out to apologize. Isaac, now head gardener, has become good friend’s with Nory’s brother over the years and, though he still distrusts the others, he forgives Nory. The pair discover an undeniable attraction and decide to explore their feelings, against the objections of Nory’s brother. There may be slightly too much going on, with intertwining subplots distracting from the love story, but Bayliss makes it work; all the hubbub of wedding preparation in the background offers some good laughs, and Nory’s diverse friend group is sure to win over readers. Bayliss’s fans will be pleased. (Sept.)