Friday, December 2, 2022

Book Review: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert

Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Fiction/Fantasy
Pub. Date: October 4, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "A one-of-a-kind Christmas market offers holiday magic in the new romance from the author of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club. With a name like Astra Noel Snow, holiday spirit isn't just a seasonal specialty--it's a way of life. But after a stinging divorce, Astra's yearly trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market takes on a whole new meaning. She's ready to eat, drink, and be merry, especially with the handsome stranger who saves the best kringle for her at his family bakery. For Jack Clausen, the Julemarked with its snowy lights and charming shops stays the same, while the world outside the joyful street changes, magically leaping from one December to the next every four weeks. He's never minded living this charmed existence until Astra shows him the life he's been missing outside of the festive red brick alley. After a swoon-worthy series of dates, some Yuletide magic, and the unexpected glow of new love, Astra and Jack must decide whether this relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they're feeling is as ephemeral as marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa."



Jack Clausen works at his family's bakery in Julemarked, a Christmas Market. Except this isn't a regular Christmas Market. This market is magical and it's Christmas year-round there. Where he lives is a magical world that can only be accessed through the Christmas Markets throughout the world like portals and before you know it, it disappears on Christmas Eve. Astra Snow (yes, that's her name), always visits the Milwaukee Christmas Market with her friends. While there, Astra runs into Jack. Jack has been watching Astra for years and looks forward to their meetings, but the problem is Astra doesn't remember them. Except this year something different happens. This time Astra finally recognizes Jack from a dream she had. Cue a budding romance except how can Jack convince Astra to leave her world behind and stay with him in his magical home? Before the Christmas Market disappears, he has to convince her that their relationship is worth the risk. Once Upon a December is a cute holiday tale with a magical twist and a wonderful setting of the Christmas Market.

Astra is a likeable character in Once Upon a December. I enjoyed her, especially because she is a librarian. Her toxic relationship with her ex-husband drove me nuts though, so I was rooting for her to find happiness with Jack. Except we all know that her deciding to live in this magical world would mean giving up her job at the library, her family, and her friends. Jack, on the other hand, is a downright good guy except how he could expect this from her, I am not sure. It's a big ask, especially since Astra doesn't fully remember all their interactions. So, despite his shortcomings, I enjoyed their romance and liked the flashbacks to the memories of when they previously met at past Christmas Markets. It was all very charming.

I have to say that Reichert hits it out of the ballpark with the Christmas Market, Julemarked. It was an absolutely charming setting and such a fun location to get readers into the holiday spirit. The concept of a "magical" land via the market was a bit much, but once I suspended my disbelief, I appreciated this Hallmark Christmas movie like tale.

My only issue with Astra was her co-dependency with her friends and the plot twist at the end of Once Upon a December that I am not sure was necessary. Astra is a good friend, but she is basing her life choices on supporting her friends and while that is great, she is missing out on opportunities to make herself happy. It's like she doesn't want to be a main character in her life, but instead a supporting role. I really wanted her to be there for her friends, but not to the point where it derails her plans and her happiness. Other than that and the plot twist, I thought Once Upon a December is a cute read for the holidays. If you like your holiday tales with a touch of magic, this one is for you.

Have you read Once Upon a December? Is it on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. I was also a little put off by the fact that Jack just expected her to give up her life, like there were no other options.

    1. Yes! I thought it was crazy that there wasn't, initially, another solution. Just give it all up for me! I also thought her co-dependency with her friends was a little over the top. I mean she should be there for them, but it shouldn't derail her life b/c her friend's husband got into an accident on a ski vacation. Other than that, I thought it was so much fun. Loved the setting! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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