Review: In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

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Star rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: from Goodreads-

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

General information: This was published in October 2020 by Gallery Books.

My thoughts:

Y’all, this book was adorable. Cozy, wintery, romantic, funny, everything you would expect from a holiday romcom.

The main couple were adorable and built up very well- I was really rooting for them by the end. There’s a slight hint of a love triangle but I feel that it’s handled well. The synopsis mentions two brothers, after all, so I went into this expecting some hurt feelings from at least one party.

And the time travel aspect (if it was time travel?) was worked into the plot interestingly. I felt like Mae’s reaction to being thrown back to the beginning of the vacation was realistic and, at times, pretty darn funny.

I loved the found family aspect of it, as well. The larger cast of characters were sweet, especially her not-quite-uncle Benny. I really enjoyed their characters, but I felt that sometimes the large ensemble cast made it difficult to remember who was who. (That could 100% be my fault, though. I just have a hard time with large casts).

Mae grew a lot as a person over the course of the book. Her character was very relatable to me- she starts off the book as someone who’s not sure about her career, her love life, her living situation, and really, we’ve all been there, right?

My only issue is that she’s in an incredibly privileged position- she has a decent job and the ability to live with her mother while she figures things out. Sure, it’s not ideal for her, but many people couldn’t say the same. In the end, some of the themes of the book only really apply if you, too, are in a privileged position. Of course, your mileage may vary if you take your life advice from romcoms, but that was something that struck me as important to mention, because it may affect how you view her character and her decisions.

In the end, though, I loved the romance in this book and the larger story about family and tradition. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a romcom to read this holiday season!

Have you read this book yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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Star rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: via Goodreads

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

General information: This book was published in 2019 by Berkley.

My thoughts:

A romcom set at a Renaissance Faire? Yes please!

For real, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was heartwarming and cute and swoony, all the best things about reading a romcom.

For a romcom, though, it felt pretty light on the “com.” It didn’t make me laugh out loud at any point like The Unhoneymooners did, and also didn’t make me exhale heavily out of my nose, like most funny books do. (I’m not the only one here who does that, right?)

However, I still fell in love with the characters and the town of Willow Creek (sidenote: isn’t that the name of a town in the Sims 4?). I loved Simon, especially, and his struggle to keep up his brother’s legacy. I loved the small-town atmosphere of the book- and I’m not usually one for small towns in real life. This one, though, was charming and filled with a cast of supportive characters. Can I move there?

This book had me swooning every time the main couple so much as kissed, and I had to put it down in a couple of parts because I was so emotionally involved in the main couple.

However- and this is a big ‘however’- looking back, I honestly don’t see what attracted them to each other in the first place. They hate each other out of nowhere, which, fair enough, that happens all the time. But then suddenly, they’re incredibly attracted to each other? Which, again, fair enough (or faire enough?), that happens too. But then, boom, they’re in love! And have been for a while! Who could have predicted that?

It’s a romcom, so I was willing to suspend disbelief while I was reading, but having had some time to think about it, I just don’t fully believe in the main couple. It was fun and lighthearted and swoony (have I mentioned how swoony it was?) but it felt like something was missing.

I’m honestly not sure if I want to read the next book in the series yet because of this. I liked Stacey’s character but I wasn’t very invested in her, and I’m not sure I could read a whole book about her. That being said, I’d probably get Well Played if it was on sale? Just not right now.

However, this author can write the hell out of a kiss scene.

Do I plan to read this again? Yes, probably. Would I recommend this to romcom fans? Sure. But my rating of 4 stars is probably closer to a 3.5 because of the issues I had with the romance development.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this? What were your thoughts?