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Book review: Richard Paul Evans' 'The Mistletoe Secret' shares a love story in Midway, Utah

THE MISTLETOE SECRET,” by Richard Paul Evans, Simon and Schuster, $19.99, 308 pages (f)

Local author Richard Paul Evans weaves Utah locations and traditions into his third love story in the Mistletoe Collection that is scheduled to be released Nov. 15.

Alex Bartlett of Dayton, Florida, has gone through a painful divorce and his friends convince him to try online dating.

Instead, his finds a blog by LBH who writes about her loneliness — something he can relate to. Because of a few details from her posts, he thinks she’s in Midway, Utah. Using some upcoming end-of-year vacation along with the perks of flying frequently for his job, he checks into the Blue Boar Inn in Midway as he works to figure out the identity of LBH.

In the process of his search, he meets and is intrigued by Aria, who works at the Mistletoe Diner. As he continues to look for a woman with the initials LBH and learns to navigate the snow, he runs into a cast of characters from a sweet and lonely grandmother to a man named Leslie, who invites him over to watch the Trailblazers game.

As he gets to know Aria, he finds she has a sad past, too, with a mother with mental illness and a divorce from a man who moved with her from Minnesota and left her with a mountain of debt.

Alex becomes conflicted when he wants to pursue Aria. But when he finds someone who fits his description of LBH, he may not be ready for the emotional bumps associated with either relationship.

Swiss Days plays a role in “The Mistletoe Secret,” along with sneaking into a hot pot or warm spring, skiing, cutting down a Christmas tree (including getting the appropriate permit), among other descriptions of places and activities in Midway and Salt Lake City.

Evans’ story, like “The Mistletoe Promise” and “The Mistletoe Inn,” though somewhat predictable and occasionally cliché, is a sweet story of working through challenges to find what seems like an elusive and impossible relationship. Evans also includes a cast of quirky and entertaining supporting characters.

There isn’t any violence or swearing, and the described relationships don’t go beyond kissing and generally described making out.

“The Mistletoe Promise,” the first book in the collection, has been turned into a Hallmark movie for this holiday season.

If you go …

What: Richard Paul Evans book signings

When: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, 1780 N. Woodland Park Drive, Layton

Web: richardpaulevans.com

Also …

When: Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, 1110 Fort Union Blvd., Midvale

Also …

When: Tuesday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m.

Where: Here Home and Gift, 26 W. Center, Provo

Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com Twitter: CTRappleye