Christmas at Holiday House by RaeAnne Thayne

christmas at holiday house

 

official blurb
This New Year will bring widowed nurse Abigail Powell a fresh start in a different city. Excited about the chance to create an unforgettable Christmas for her young son in picturesque Silver Bells, Colorado, Abby has been hired to take care of her dear friend’s recuperating grandmother. But sprightly senior Winnie insists she doesn’t need looking after. What she does need is help decorating her historic mansion, Holiday House, for a seasonal town fundraiser. Abby warms to the festive task, but she’ll have to contend with her own personal Grinch: Winnie’s prickly grandson, Ethan Lancaster. Ethan Lancaster is good at a lot of things. Relationships surely aren’t one of them. His ex-fiancée convinced Ethan he was incapable of love, and he believes her…up until the moment he impulsively kisses Abby. What is it about this vibrant woman and her sweet son that knocks his world off-kilter? He knows they’re leaving town after Christmas. He just didn’t expect they’d be taking a little of his heart with them. But as he and Abby work together on the magical Holiday House through the record cold weather, visions of a different future dance in his head…one filled with warmth, love and a new beginning for them both.

 

arc review

 

3 out of 5
🔥  out of 5 steam level

This was my first book by this author. I am all about Hallmark and Christmas and this book delivered with those vibes. Instead of having a dual point of view, I was surprised to find this featured three POVs. The main two POVs you read are between Abigail and Ethan. I liked Ethan overall but found Abigail to be less appealing. There was a specific scene regarding sledding and her fear of heights. Personally, I have a huge fear of heights and don’t even like standing on a chair – but am easily able to go sledding. For this reason, that scene felt unrealistic and a tad eye rolly.
The third POV was from Ethan’s sister, Lucy. I actually found I liked her story the best even though it was featured the least.
I liked that the book featured diverse characters, from a latinx family, to a character with down syndrome.
Overall this book fell a bit flat for me, but if you’re looking for a sweet holiday read with low steam levels then this one’s for you!

Content warnings: loss of a loved one, violence (very little described on the page)

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

in a holidaze

arc review

 

official blurb
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.

2.75 out of 5🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

Wow I am having the hardest time rating this book.  First of all, I need to describe how I felt when I was reading it.  In one word: stressed.  Like so stressed that the second night I started to read it, I decided to pick up an entirely different book because I didn’t want to fall asleep stressed.  Now, I feel I must confess to you that I find the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles incredibly stressful – that’s the kind of stress I was feeling in this book.  You might be wondering from the description if I was feeling Groundhogs Day stressed… but like the main character, Mae, I have never seen that movie.  (Keep that gasp to yourself, not every classic is really a classic!) Shall we talk about the things that stressed me out?  As Lorelai Gilmore says, “Let’s shall!”  Mae made a lot of questionable choices in her communication or lack thereof.  That’s right, folks, this book features major communication issues (my least favorite trope in a book).  Remember my other least favorite plot device- the love triangle?  Yup, this book also featured a love triangle.  Did I mention I was stressed when I read this book?  I did? Okay…well, I was.  I even resorted to sending multiple texts to a friend demanding she tell me if this book was indeed a romance novel (did you know that for a book to be considered a romance novel it is required to feature a “happily ever after” or an HEA as we like to call it?)…. it was.  So are you wondering how this book got almost three stars for me after this stress?! I know, it’s hard to believe- especially for me, after I almost declared it a DNF (did not finish).  But there’s a point in the book when Mae decides to start communicating… and I fell in love.  I loved the whole section that moved forward from the communication! I was happy with the ending and finally felt all of the drama fall into its rightful place.  And for that, it almost got a full three stars from me! I also loved the family that was written in the book- I liked the traditions and the close knit crew.  They were well written and likable.  I think one of the reasons why the book is so stressful is because it’s written in a way that really pulls you into the world- the life with all of these families living together in a cabin over Christmastime.  And because you’re so into it, you find yourself grinding your teeth!

This is one of Christina Lauren’s low end steam books.  They really write very fluctuating steam level books and I love that about them!  (If you’re new to these authors, it is two women who write under the pen name Christina Lauren).

Thank you to netgalley and Gallery Books for the advanced readers copy of this book!

To see a holiday books that I recommend check out my reviews of Faking Under The Mistletoe and Christmas on Mistletoe Lane

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25 days Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

25 days til christmas

 

Ready for a mini review?  I’ve never done one before but I decided to DNF (do not finish) this book but still review it. (I mean, how else am I supposed to remember that I’ve read it?!  Okay I do use goodreads…good point.  Nonetheless I am doing a mini review!)

1 out of 5

Okay,  I really enjoyed the setup in the first few chapters.

At page 41 I’m already getting tired of the reiteration that she’s worried about money but thinking about getting a Christmas tree.  So far it’s kind of a depressing read.

Jury is still out on if I’ll find jack too annoying or not with this- screaming when touched in crowds thing.  Okay after reading a little further I do find it annoying.

Could use more scenes from Daniel…

No word on the steam rating for this book because I didn’t get that far.

Okay stopping this book. This is a real downer- not a fun Christmassy book by any means. I’ve just been alerted about MORE trigger warnings– so far the list is suicide, terminal illness, sexual assault.

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Faking it Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

faking it under the mistletoe

official blurb
Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear. Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all. So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes. Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving. And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final. In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle. She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake relationship thing. Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.

my blurb!
A Hallmark loving intern pretends to be dating her boss when she sees how upset he is at a company event after his breakup.

5 out of 5

🔥🔥.5 out of 5 steam level

This book is REQUIRED READING FOR ROMANCE LOVERS!

I’d seen this book around Instagram and people seemed to almost entirely love it! So when I snagged a Kindle unlimited deal for a few months I knew this one needed to be at the top of my list!

Now it opens the book with a trigger warning and I’ll open my review with that as well- this book has a trigger warning involving a sexual predator storyline and sexual harassment. It is not descriptive or suspenseful in this storyline.

what i liked
I read this book in one sitting and loved it! There are Hallmark movie references and even a reference to Lifetime making Christmas movies! (If you follow me on Instagram… And you should!… You know I’ve been watching and reviewing ALL of the Christmas movies this year! Check out my Instagram highlights!)
There was even a reference to my FAVORITE bakery in all of New York City, Le Vain Bakery. (Sidenote I make these knock off cookies and they’re amazing. You’re welcome.) Olivia, our heroine, is struggling to make ends meet. She is sassy and confident in personality and in her body (this is rare for me to mention in a heroine because it’s honestly rare to read about!) Her personality flaw would be that she doesn’t like disappointing people and will help anyone to the point of meddling.
The plot is funny and moves quickly, I was surprised how many drama points fit into it without it bothering me remotely.
Asher, our main man, was really overly grumpy in the beginning. It almost turned me off of him but I’m so glad I stuck with him because I ended up loving him!

what i didn't like
My biggest wish list is that I wish there was a chapter from his perspective from what he thought of her in the beginning or when he started to fall for her… Maybe a reminiscing chapter where he tells her! Fingers crossed there will be a newsletter with a novella or something!!!

 

This book features an enemies to lovers trope, a Grinch trope, fake relationship and coworkers trope!

when to read
This book is best read between Thanksgiving and Christmas. BUT, full disclosure, I read it the day after Christmas. So I think in general it should be a winter read!

while reading you should
Listen to some of my favorite Christmas music!
-Johnnyswim’s Christmas Album
-Ben Rector’s Christmas Album
-The Christmas Song by Lauren Daigle
-Amy Grant’s Christmas Album
-The Pentatonix Christmas Album
(okay, you got me. I love Christmas music! What can I say?!)

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Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

royal holiday

official blurb
Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality. Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling. Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?

my blurb!
A romance featuring an older couple, the holidays, and a trip abroad. (This book is the fourth in a series but can be read as a standalone novel).

arc review

3 out of 5
 🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
I read this book quickly.  When a book is three stars, I think this needs to be stated. Because usually three stars mean the book was just okay- but it wasn’t bad enough to make me put the book down and pick up something else!
This book makes you crave scones and want to travel to England (maybe even over the holidays!) It gave me a lot of Hallmark Movie vibes. (Which you know, to me, is a major plus because I love a good Hallmark Movie).
The main couple was in their 50s, and I’ve never read a romance novel where the leads were that “old” – I thought that was really cool!

what i didn't like
There were some major repetitive bits in this book- like Vivian’s job description and what she will be doing soon.  To the point where I wondered if they were going to cut it all out of the final copy (being this is an advanced readers copy, you don’t know what will make it into the finished version of the book). AND if they did cut it all out, would the book end up being a lot shorter?
The book felt really formulaic to me.  No surprises, very predictable.
I could never picturing Malcolm with an accent for some reason, maybe my head doesn’t naturally read with an accent even though I know it should be there! OR maybe he didn’t have enough random phrases that felt British to me.
I never laughed out loud while reading this book, so I wouldn’t consider it a romcom, simply a light holiday romance.

Shall we tackle the steam level?  In the words of Rory Gilmore, “let’s shall!”  It was a 3 steam level but overall description was minimal. But if 🍆 is involved then a 3 it must be!

when to read
This book is perfect to read over any wintery/cold month! But preferably over the holidays up to New Years!

while reading you should
Watch- The Holiday
Listen to- The Holiday Soundtrack (it’s one I listen to ALL the time!)
Do- check in with your mom!
Eat – scones!

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