Release Date: Oct 6, 2020
Heat Level: Warm
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Gallery Books
Next up in my #holidayreads series is the latest from rom-com power duo Christina Lauren. In a Holidaze was billed as the movie Groundhog’s Day gone Christmas and I was excited for it. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a glutton for all things Christmas and holiday. So of course when I saw Christina and Lauren were putting out a holiday book I couldn’t hit the request button fast enough.
The story is about Maelyn Jones, a woman who’s life isn’t going exactly to plan. She’s just spent the last ever Christmas in her family’s cabin and she wishes that she could see what it would be like to be happy. This sets off a time loop that puts Maelyn back into the plane on the way to the cabin and starting the whole holiday over. This whole premise was catnip for me since I love the idea of getting a do-over in life. And Christine Lauren’s writing is so enjoyable that I don’t mind the some times confusing plot structure.
But even though this book had a lot going for it, I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to. I was getting frustrated with myself over how long (weeks) it took me to read this book. I worried I was letting 2020 get to me and that I was being unfair to the queens of modern rom-com. Did I laugh? Of course. Did a swoon a little? Sure. Did I root for Mae to get the “right” HEA? You’re darn tootin’. But did I really enjoy this book? Not really. I can find the lingering wit and joie de vivre in the way these two craft the humor in their novels. I can even appreciate their character work. But the romance? The passion? It’s gone for me.
I found Christina Lauren books when they were fresh out of the fanfic world and writing their Beautiful Bastard series. I absorbed every filthy detail they wrote and re-read many of the books because the enjoyment was so high. As the duo has started to veer away from these roots their craft has gotten better, but the stories have become boring. This isn’t an argument for open vs. closed door. There is space for it all in romance. But when an author changes styles and strays from what you expect, sometimes you can’t take that journey with them. Especially when you begin to suspect that changes are due to a lingering prejudice of the romance genre. That’s when you begin to wonder if these changes are indicative of a desire to appear “mainstream” and cast off our romance roots.
So overall I’m giving this a fairly low score, but that’s certainly not going to be the common theme in other reviews. I just wanted to offer probably one of the only dissenting opinions and take a stab at why I’m losing the love for pair of extremely talented writers. I’m hoping these two can figure out a way to bring some of their old magic back to their stories. Until they do I’m not sure I’ll be picking up another of their books.