Thursday, October 1, 2020

Isn't It Romantic?

In a Holidaze

Christina Lauren
Age/Genre: Adult, Fabulist Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.
Mae and her family have always celebrated the Christmas holiday with her parents' college friends. Each year, she eagerly awaited returning to the cabin, the traditions, to Andrew. This year, however, was to be their last celebration, as Andrew's parents would be selling the cabin. Mae was not a fan of the bad news, and she went into a sadness spiral, begging the universe to help her find her happy. The universe complied, sort of, by making her relive that last week at the cabin until she was able to find her happy on her own. 

This book was fun! I have always said that Christina Lauren bring the funny, and once again, they had me in stitches. Be it character quirks or general shenanigans, I could be seen smiling, giggling, or out right laughing at some point during the story. 

And, what's a holiday without tradition? Wow! This clan had so many wonderful traditions too. I couldn't wait for each day's activity to be revealed. There were definitely points in this story, where I wished I could be adopted or marry into one of the families, because I so wanted to be part of the party. Board games, sledding, snow sculptures, scavenger hunts -- the list went on and on, and I wanted to be partake in all this merriment. 

These authors have such a knack for assembling fantastic groups of people too. I already mentioned that I wanted to become part of this "family", but it wasn't just for the Park City vacation. This group had stuck together for so long. Through good times and bad times and even physical separation, they kept their family ties tied tight. The love and kinship could be felt throughout the story, and it's just beautiful to be able to have so many special people in one's life. 

There were more than just laughs and festivities in this story too. I was fully onboard with some of the other themes. This was really Mae's story. After getting a look into her life, we knew she was not satisfied, but she also was not a big fan of change. This fear of the unknown kept her in a job she hated and from more satisfying relationships. But while in the time loop, she thought, why not! She felt it was a safe place to take some chances and really be true to herself. And so, she took some chance and learned a LOT along the way. 

That brings me to the romance, which was a sweet friends-to-more romance. Mae had been pining away for Andrew for over a decade, but she never let him know. Like I said, she feared change, and how could she risk a lifelong friendship? It was great seeing her take her shot, and these two were amazing together. They had so much history and just really knew each other. If you know me, you know I live for this type of romance, and CLo filled every crevice of my heart with this one. 

In a Holidaze had everything that I look for in a holiday themed story! Fun, family, and festivities filled these pages, and I was left with a few new laugh lines and a full heart.  

Spoiler Alert

Olivia Dade
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Avon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Olivia Dade bursts onto the scene in this delightfully fun romantic comedy set in the world of fanfiction, in which a devoted fan goes on an unexpected date with her celebrity crush, who’s secretly posting fanfiction of his own.

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. While the world knows him as Aeneas, the star of the biggest show on TV, Gods of the Gates, he's known to fanfiction readers as Book!AeneasWouldNever, an anonymous and popular poster. Marcus is able to get out his own frustrations with his character through his stories, especially the ones that feature the internet’s favorite couple to ship, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone ever found out about his online persona, he’d be fired. Immediately.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s hidden her fanfiction and cosplay hobby from her “real life” for years—but not anymore. When she decides to post her latest Lavinia creation on Twitter, her photo goes viral. Trolls and supporters alike are commenting on her plus-size take, but when Marcus, one half of her OTP, sees her pic and asks her out on a date to spite her critics, she realizes life is really stranger than fanfiction.

Even though their first date is a disaster, Marcus quickly realizes that he wants much more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. And when he discovers she’s actually Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to hide from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?
After switching jobs, April was finally free to live her life out loud, and the first thing she wanted to share with the world was her love of Gods of the Gates by posting her cosplaying one of the characters. The picture went viral, and the trolls attacked. To her surprise, the handsome star of Gods of the Gates came to her defense and asked her for a dinner date. Was this just a publicity stunt or could it be the start of something special?

This was another fun one from Dade. The one thing I will never stop loving about her books is that they tend to feature a bit more mature heroine (April is 36) who is usually plus-sized. It's a nice to see this in a romance book, because I would like to think that EVERYONE is entitle to an HEA. 

Obviously I liked many other things, and here are a few.
  • April was fabulous. She was a super intelligent scientist, who knew she had a LOT to offer. I loved her confidence, and the way she didn't buy into so many of the societal standards. She went after what she wanted, but also protected herself by drawing clear boundaries. She showed her mettle multiple times in this story, and it was great to see. 
  • Marcus was such a sweetheart. My experiences with Dade's heroes have been wonderful. They tend to have a lot of depth. They are kind and considerate, while also being sexy and swoony. Marcus possessed all these qualities plus he experienced so much growth over the course of this story. 
  • Marcus and April were so different, yet they had a lot in common too. They existed in very different worlds, but both had family issues. April's parents were always on her about her weight and appearance, while Marcus was seen as being of inferior intelligence. This was damage that had been done to them since they were kids, and it still affected them as adults. It was great to see them make progress with this "baggage" and support each other in their attempts to unpack some of it. 
  • It was fun being in the fandom. As with all fandoms, we saw the good and the bad parts, but Dade kept it mostly good. I liked the way she worked in some bits of fanfic as well as some of the message threads from their online chats. I got to be there as April worked on her costume, and I even went to a con! Good times!
  • There were so many great supporting characters in this book.  From Marcus' co-stars to April co-workers, Dade assembled a fun, quirky, and entertaining cast for me to love. They not only made me laugh, they made me happy, because they were great friends to Marcus and April. 
  • There are quite a few take-aways from this book, and my favorite was about not hiding your true self for whatever reason. April had to hide her love of Gods of the Gates, while Marcus had to hide his intelligence by playing the role of shallow, vapid Hollywood star. Both had to find the courage to show their hidden selves to the world, and it was amazing to see them finally find that freedom. 
Overall, this was another sexy, swoony, and heartwarming romance from Dade. She perfectly combine fun and frothy with emotion to give me a well-balanced romance that left me with a warm heart and a smiling face. 

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Favorite time-loop book?
Let us know in the comments!

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