This is a new author for me but I’ll be seeking out more from her to add to my TBR pile!
The Smokey Blues, Book 6
by Emily Mims
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Date of Publication: November 20th 2017
ISBN: 978-1-979474-24-5 – print book
ISBN: 978-1-944262-99-0 – eBook
Number of pages: 227
Word Count: 65,450
Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group
Can the holiday season turn make-believe into real passion, love and romance?
Aspiring songwriter Caitlyn Murphy is tired of sister’s hand-me-downs. From toys and bicycles to men, it seemed like everything in Caitlyn’s life first belonged to her late sister. Roped into doing Christmas for motherless nieces, and entering into a pretend romance with their dangerously attractive father, Caitlyn soon finds herself falling in love with the girls, and the enigmatic Tanner Dyson. She resists the temptation and Tanner’s insistence that they make their pretend relationship real. She wants her own family, not the one her sister had first.
“I haven’t dated anybody since I lost your sister.” Tanner laced his fingers together. “But yes, before I fell in love with Meghan, I mostly dated dancers and other women who worked in the clubs. I guess we’re going to have to work that much harder to make it believable.”
Caitlyn eyed him curiously. “How do we do that?”
“We start by spending the rest of this evening together, like we can’t bear to be separated from one another. We sit down tomorrow morning and come up with some concrete plans, both for the girls’ Christmas this year and for some public outings for you and me so it looks like we’re dating. We see how it goes. Do you have time for a short outing with them tomorrow? Something they can tell my mother about if she asks?”
“I can take them somewhere. It might be pretty simple.”
“Simple is fine.” He glanced down the hall. “Let’s get back to the reception and put this whole thing in motion.”
She would help. But she didn’t have to like it. She would make damned sure both her mother and her Aunt Bea knew she didn’t particularly appreciate being shanghaied into a ridiculous subterfuge with Tanner Dyson. She didn’t even like him all that much. And she wasn’t all that close to the girls. How would she know what they wanted or needed to celebrate Christmas?
They returned to the party and made a beeline for the champagne fountain. He filled two flutes and handed one to her, his fingers warm where they brushed against hers. She resisted the urge to down the champagne in one nervous gulp and instead sipped it slowly, determined to ignore the curious looks she and Tanner were getting, especially when he settled his hand at her waist in a casual show of possession. To her surprise, the warmth of his hand felt comfortable, reassuring even.
She looked around to see if the Dysons had seen them together. She couldn’t spot them in the crowd, but she did catch Timberlynn’s eye as her sister gave her an almost imperceptible wink. Her mother or Aunt Bea must have filled Timberlynn in on what was going on. Her sister would probably laugh all the way home tonight. Trish looked at them curiously, especially after Tanner pulled her close for a hug, and leaned over and whispered something to Asher. Suddenly the magnitude of the ruse she and Tanner were trying to pull swept over her. Who else besides the Dysons were they going to try to fool? Just them? Or everybody in Kingsport?
This is the first in the series I’ve read so I’m not sure how much the previous stories might play into Caitlyn and Tanner’s interactions. I’m sure they’ve made appearances but I’m not sure how much that should influence reader’s reaction to their love story. Overall, though, the story does stand alone pretty well. Mims does a fantastic job of making sure that new readers like me can keep up with anything that might trickle in from those other stories.
There is definitely tension between the two. Caitlyn has never warmed up to her sister’s husband – he’s all around a little too much for her and she never felt like he was worthy of being her sister’s husband.
I’m an only child so I have a pretty hard time grasping the intricacies of sibling relationships in stories like this. Caitlyn resents her sister and feels like she’s always played second to her – getting all her hand-me-downs, big and small. But she also loves her and holds her in very high regard, going so far to think that the man her sister loved wasn’t good enough to marry her. Logically it makes sense but there’s just so much turbulence there and it bleeds over into her dealings with Tanner.
Who is having enough issues of his own dealing with life after the death of his wife. It’s not been easy and he’s now feeling pressure from his own (awful) parents, which leads him to falling into a fake relationship with his sister-in-law. He’s very aware that she’s never really liked him and having to rely on her help is complicated. Made even more so when he starts seeing her as more than just his wife’s sister.
Mims does well by Caitlyn. I think she finally gets a chance to put some of her emotional demons to rest and come to terms with her feelings about herself. It’s hard for her to face certain things after so many years but she does. I think Tanner does a good job of facing a few of his own issues (although he does have a few fabulous man moments that make you want to smack him a little). His own childhood and history has given him a few doubts and unfortunately a lack of good communication skills on both their parts just feeds into that, and for Caitlyn as well. They eventually get things figured out but it takes a bit and some soul-searching for them to get there 🙂
There’s a lot of drama on everyone’s part in Mistletoe and quite a few people need to learn to talk AND listen. Quite a bit of their troubles could have been avoided with a little better communication but Mims gives us very human characters with very human faults. (I know I’m AWFUL about communicating some things!) It makes it real and difficult and, most of all, enjoyable to read.
Author of thirty-four romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons and six grandsons, she and her husband live in central Texas but frequently visit their grandchildren in Tennessee and Georgia. For relaxation, she plays four musical instruments: the piano, the ukulele, the organ and the dulcimer.
Copies of the first and second books in the Smokey Blues series; Mist and Smoke.
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