Audio Review: The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig


December 3, 2012 by Heidi

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig book coverTitle: The Mischief of the Mistletoe [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Lauren Willig [Website|Facebook]
Standing: Pink Carnation #7 — I read this without having read any other books in the series and did not find it to be confusing.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Holiday
Published: October 28th, 2010 by Penguin Audio
Format: Audiobook; 10 hrs, 24 min. Read by Kate Reading.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!: This review is spoiler free to my knowledge, the book does have minor spoilers for the previous books, but nothing detrimental.

Oh my.  I’m not sure what I was really expecting when I poked my ear buds into their proper place and began listening to The Mischief of the Mistletoe, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this book to be so much fun.  You know those books that cause you to have a big stupid grin on your face throughout the majority of the story?  The ones that are particularly awkward to listen to at the gym because people can hear you chuckle choke for lack of air and see the look on your face as you go?  The Mischief of the Mistletoe is most certainly in that camp.

Arabella Dempsey was quite certain that she would be inheriting her aunt’s fortune, and likely marrying a fine young man to boot.  That was until that same young man decided to skip Arabella altogether and go strait to the source, marrying her aunt and assuring Arabella’s prospects (or lack thereof) as a poor woman with no dowry or inheritance to speak of.  Resolving to assert her independence, Arabella takes on a position teaching at Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies.  Thinking her worries would be few, Arabella finds quite the opposite when she has to stake her position on preventing elopements and catching international spies.

Reginald Fitzhugh, or Turnip as he is more lovingly known, is quite accustomed to the notion of spies as he is often mistaken for one of them.  He hardly expects to find any at his sister Sally’s school, however, until he quite literally runs into Arabella Dempsey and a particular Christmas pudding bearing a message in French.  Together Turnip and Arabella bumble through a series of puddings and clues attempting to uncover what may be a schoolgirl prank, or may be a French ploy.

Unfamiliar with the character Turnip, not having read the previous Pink Carnation books, I can completely understand why so many readers requested demanded he get his own story.  A bit of a blundering fool, I quickly fell in love with this man who so rarely says the proper things, but usually the most cunning ones–Mind the mustachios!  His surprising protective and gallant nature was quite charming, particularly when directed at the sweet and shy Arabella who seemed not to find him ridiculous whatsoever (or not to mind, at least).  I loved how Arabella’s very practical side contrasted with Turnip’s flamboyant and brash one, though of course she is also imbued with her own wonderful sense of humor.  She is understandably reticent to receive any affections from a man known to have had any number of assignations with various women, particularly when her position at the school would be at stake should Turnip’s intentions be anything less than honorable.

A romance surrounded by a lighthearted (at least most often lighthearted) mystery, The Mischief of the Mistletoe was the perfect holiday romp.  The courtship is more real and charming for its lack of frills and poetic nuance.  It was hard to take the so-called-villain seriously when there were Christmas puddings and papier mache scimitars involved, but that’s largely what made the whole debacle so entertaining.  Kate Reading’s narration was wonderful, as her use of the language and inflection helped so much to put our story into the context of it’s time.  I’m convinced that I’ll just have to listen to them all!  I can only hope the other books in the Pink Carnation series are as much fun.

Away in a Manger by Lauren Willig book coverSo if you’re in the mood for some romantic galavanting fun this holiday season, do pick up The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig.  And when you’re done with that go here and read about the wedding night!  Lauren Willig agreed to write this short story as part of a bet–it’s a quick 20 pages that’s a very nice way to tie up this story.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  I already requested the first three books on audio from the library!  So excited to see more Turnip in past books.  Also, I’d love to see more Sally, his sister, as she’s quite a handful in the best sense possible.

Recommended for:  Historical romance fans, particularly those who enjoy Jane Austen and Regency England but wouldn’t mind seeing it from a slightly more ridiculous angle.  Jane Austen, is, in fact a character in The Mischief of the Mistletoe–a friend of Arabella’s.  Also note that this is a very clean romance, should those matters concern you one way or the other (obviously the short story concerning the wedding night does have sexytimes).

Real life repercussions of reading this book:
Completely unable to get this song out of my head…and completely okay with that–it’s perfect for this book!


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  1. I am beyond thrilled that you had so much fun reading about Turnip! If you do end up reading the whole series, I bet you’ll have a blast seeing bits of him in the other books.

    • Heidi says:

      You KNOW you’re going to get excited Tweets from me as I’m listening to the rest of these books. I hope I enjoy the rest of the series as much, Kate Reading is a wonderful narrator, so they’re sure to be very fun listens. Quite excited for more Turnip!

  2. I’ve never heard of these books, but I definitely need to look into them! I mean, I love Jane Austen, and I have no problem with romance :)

    I also love books that leave smiles on my face all day :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Heidi says:

      Well, who doesn’t love a book that makes them smile constantly?

      If you’re a Jane Austen fan, I think this series is really worth checking out. They’re more mystery focused than her books, and a little more ridiculous, but quite fun.

  3. I tried the first one in this series a long, long time ago and couldn’t get into it but maybe I’ll just have to give one of the later books a chance. I’ve been in the mood for a “big, stupid grin” read lately. I am in such a funk right now. 😐

    • Heidi says:

      Oh noes, not a funk! D:

      I did really enjoy this one in a completely light ridiculous kind of way. I’ve been finding I really like that sort of book for audio, because I don’t feel so bad if I’m doing other things and don’t catch everything 100%.

      I’ll be giving the first one a try soon–so we shall see! Maybe knowing it gets better will help me get through if it’s a wee bit dull?

  4. Aww, this sounds SO cute! I think it’s perfect for the holidays and I seem to be on a contemporary/romance binge for some reason. I just started a historical romance series, so more romance? Bring it my way! 😉 Wonderful review, Heidi! 😀

    • Heidi says:

      It was cute, Keertana! I don’t know why I never read any romance before this year, I think I was all mentally elitist about it, but the fact is it’s just fun and it makes me feel good, so I’m going to read it! I don’t know if the whole series is romance focused, or more mystery? I hope there’s more romance though.

      • There’s definitely some of both. Equal parts. All awesome. :-)

        • Well, maybe a little more romance, now that I think about it. There’s always a mystery, but the romance–the main pairing in each book–is what really drives the story. AHH! LOVE these books! I’ll stop talking now.

          • Heidi says:

            Oh good! I’m so glad to hear that there’s some of both in all of the books, because that’s exactly what I loved so much about this one. Turnip is TOTALLY Bingley, and I cannot wait to see him more in past books so that I can smile knowingly about what’s to come in his future (and maybe feel a little put out that he’s doing things with people other than Arabella). I hope that you’re loving it so far!

            I did get the first three from the library! Thankfully they came in quickly (though I STILL haven’t gotten the second Chaos Walking book and it’s book like 2 months. Hmph!), and I’m sure I’ll be starting by the end of this week.

            And your three comments just made me have that big dopey Turnip smile all over again. 😀

  5. I can’t wait for you to read the other books, Heidi. If you thought this book was fun, you’ll surely think the main storyline is just as enjoyable. Reading about Turnip in this book is totally going to give you a better appreciation for him in the other books, but I’ve always loved him. I know I just started it the other day, but I saw that Jane mentions him as being Bingley, and I think that’s PERFECT. I hope the first three books (incidentally, my favorites) come in soon! :-)

  6. […] picked this book up when I saw a review for it on another blog (Bunbury in the Stacks).  The main reason I picked it up was because JANE AUSTEN is a character!  Of course, she […]

  7. […] and my favorite thus far!!  I’m seven books in at this point, I did review The Mischief of the Mistletoe at Christmas, but clearly I need to get on at least mini-reviews for the rest.  If I don’t, […]

  8. […] I immediately knew I was in the right place when she referred to her friends Lauren [Willig] (The Pink Carnation series) and Deanna [Raybourn] (Lady Julia series). Clearly if that’s the writer crowd you […]

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