I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Also by this author: Roomies, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, Love and Other Words, The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon, The Honey-Don't List
Published by Gallery Books on October 6, 2020
Genres: Adult Fiction, Romance
Pages: 336 •Format: E-ARC •Source: NetGalley
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but thirty-year-old Maelyn Jones is in the midst of a major crisis. She’s living with her mom, hates her boring job, and has yet to make any romantic progress with Andrew, the friend she’s been in love with for the last thirteen years.
But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born. Devastated as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple wish to the universe: show me what will make me happy.
The next thing she knows there’s a screech of tires and metal, followed by Mae gasping awake…on an airplane bound for Utah. Now Mae has the chance to live the holidays all over again but with one disaster after another sending her repeatedly back in time, she has to figure out how to end this strange holiday loop and get Andrew under the mistletoe. Otherwise, she’s going to need a miracle.
I am a huge CLo fan, and have really loved their past few books that seem to have polarized many readers (The Honey-Don’t List, Twice in a Blue Moon, etc.) When I saw that the duo had a Christmas novel coming out, I was giddy with excitement. I had yet to find a Christmas romance that I adored, and was excited at the prospect of reading one written by my absolute favorite romance writers. What could go wrong?
Like protagonist Mae, I was perhaps about to underestimate how my journey was going to go. While there were a lot of positive elements to this story (Traditions! Diverse families! Beautiful cabins!) it definitely didn’t hit the list of my all-time CLo favorites (that list is reserved for gems such as Roomies and Love & Other Words). Perhaps it was because of the premise of Mae being stuck in a time loop, but aside from her and Benny I felt like I hardly knew any of the characters- they felt very one dimensional, especially the love interest and his brother. I was only getting a glimpse of a few days of them over and over again and while the scenarios sometimes changed, it wasn’t enough to flesh out their characters for me. Therefore I had a hard time buying into the romance (and especially the sort-of love triangle that felt pretty forced to me).
While this story definitely felt more like a romance than other recent CLo novels that have been more about the protagonists’ personal development (which I’ve coincidentally really enjoyed), I personally had a hard time getting into the romance novel mood when the setting included so many of Mae’s family members and close family friends, with very little privacy. A large secondary plot point of the novel is Mae and the other older “kids” stepping up and realizing it’s time to change and adapt and not be rooted in their Christmas traditions forever, but at the same time Mae was chasing her childhood romantic dreams and that seemed to take precedent over the plot points focused on maturity and finding your footing as a grown adult in family dynamics where you’d played the role of the child for decades.
I recognize that the time loop was a fun plot element and anticipated that I probably wouldn’t get a full-blown explanation as to why it was happening or how it worked, but I didn’t expect it to be forgotten about so completely once Mae achieved her Happily Ever After. Especially when her admission to certain characters of the time loop led to a pretty big argument toward the end of the novel…it all just sort of fell away and wasn’t mentioned (at least, not that I can remember) in the epilogue. I was hoping to at least get a little tease behind the magical realism veil as to what caused the time loop (even if the explanation was just a little Christmas magic!)
Overall: While I didn’t dislike my reading experience of In a Holidaze, I felt like it tried to straddle the line between romance and women’s fiction too much and was a bit half-hearted in its execution of both. I would have rather had a story that focused just on a Christmas romance or just on a time loop/paranormal tale of a young woman trying to find her footing as a adult. I think a lot of readers will enjoy this fun and quick holiday story, but compared to the other fantastic books CLo have put out this doesn’t rank among my favorites.