from goodreads: Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful. Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.
I loved the premise of this book. Elise and Nicholas, tired of being alone for the holidays, draw up a contract for an eight week relationship. Elise doesn't like the formality of the word contract, so it becomes 'The Mistletoe Promise'. They bring out their calendars and schedule the next eight weeks together, both attending the others' family and work Christmas events. Nicholas is the perfect love interest. He organizes daily lunches, creative dates, and has expensive gifts delivered to her office each day. His attention and positive attitude help to bring Elise out of a dark place she has been in for some time.
This is a bittersweet story to read. Through flashbacks, the reader is able to piece together the events that brought Elise's life to a standstill. I'm not going to lie, it was hard to read those chapters and still continuing reading the book. Elise experienced one of my worst nightmares. It quickly became clear that this wasn't the light holiday story I pictured when I began it. However, through Elise and Nicholas, Evans was able to deliver a story full of the true meaning of Christmas. These characters experienced hardships I pray I will never have to endure, but still demonstrate love, acceptance, and the healing power of forgiveness. I appreciated that the story showed that sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.
Evans is one of my favorite writers. His writing is beautiful, almost poetic. Something in his books always touches me. In this book, it is this quote: "It's been said that the Magi, wise men, gazed up into the night skies, following a star. But they were not looking for a star. They were looking for hope. Hope of a new world. Hope of redemption. Light is not found in dark places, and hope is not found looking down or looking back."