When Melody, Patrick, and Brad started out, it had been all about the music, and Melody and Patrick’s love for each other. She gave up singing to raise their two boys while her husband and his best friend forged ahead on the road to stardom. As much as she encouraged them, Melody’s concerns about Brad’s partying ways, especially about Brad’s influence when she wasn’t there, only grew. Life seemed perfect, though, until a little too much celebrating after getting a Nashville contract, combined with a snowstorm, ended Patrick’s life and everything with it.
Melody’s determined to prove she can make it on her own, working three jobs, and doing what she can to keep her boys happy. But at the core, she’s living in that moment when her Patrick didn’t come home, and blaming Brad for the accident, surviving, and continuing Patrick’s dream without him.
All was not exactly as Melody had seen it. Brad’s partying was as much to cover up his sense that Patrick and Melody had something he’d never found, but he loved his friends too much to let them see his jealousy. As much as Melody, he blames himself for the accident that took Patrick’s life and left him with severe injuries. He’s giving up drinking and was going to give up music until his therapist made him see punishing himself wouldn’t have been what Patrick wanted. Still, he feels the talent left their band first with Melody and then Patrick, leaving him a pretty face and a good voice but without the lyrics to make a difference.
The Mistletoe Melody is a lovely tale to keep the Christmas spirit going. It’s about the need to forgive and to embrace life even after tragedy. It starts three years after the car accident, but Melody’s stuck in that moment, throwing everything she’s got at being the best mother her fatherless children could have. She’s isolated herself through overwork and choice, though, and she’s failing. Problems at school and with the bank make it clear, but still she’s too stubborn to accept help when she believes it will come with “I told you so’s.”
It’s not a great time for Brad to reappear in her life. Even worse, he only came back because his publicist forced him, using the family he’s avoided for three years for publicity. His parents and siblings are nothing but welcoming, but Melody calls him on it. Brad can’t very well say he was too afraid to return to a place where everyone would hate him for killing Patrick. Only most people accept the past and still care for him. Only Melody and Patrick’s parents give him the hatred he’s sure he deserves, a fact that makes his reasons for coming all the more awkward.
This story is beautiful in how it handles not just their healing but that of Patrick’s parents, while Melody’s two boys are both part of the problem and the solution. They’re delightful, frustrating, and complex while remembering all the good times with Brad. A sign of Melody’s true nature is in how she didn’t spread her bitterness to her children so they have no reason to hate their godfather and are delighted to have him back in their lives.
Then there’s the main, underlying theme of not giving up your dreams to become what you think you should. This is an important one to me and I mourned along with much of the town when Melody denies her call to perform, only letting herself sing when it’s a way to make a few extra bucks in her time of need.
You can probably tell this is a lovely, complex novel (and I certainly haven’t told you everything), but there’s one thing more that makes this book stand out. The story didn’t demonize Patrick or her first marriage. It doesn’t give Melody the right to find first happiness by making her marriage to Patrick broken but rather allows for the possibility of second chances. That’s an important message, and one revealed not through a single brush stroke but through the very real struggle both of them feel when considering Patrick’s and everyone else’s feelings above their own.
This is a lovely, sweet, and clean romance about people with real problems who discover new love and the way to return to their dreams after surviving a nightmare. Between the themes and how they are handled, it demonstrates the possibility of coming back from the cliff and starting over in a beautiful, compelling way that stuck with me.
P.S. I received this book from the author in return for an honest review.