Friday, December 15, 2023

Mini Reviews: Christmas Edition

I don't know about you, but I have been thoroughly enjoying all the holiday reads. While there's nothing groundbreaking with Christmas novels, they are cozy, charming, and bring all the cheerful holiday vibes. I don't like to read anything too stressful or suspenseful in December, so these books fit the bill.

Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey
Pages: 286
Genre: Romance/Holiday
Pub. Date: September 26, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Laurel Grant is playing house for the holidays--complete with a fake husband and kids--in this delightful, cozy rom-com by Kerry Winfrey. Laurel Grant works as the social media manager for Buckeye State of Mind, an Ohio tourism magazine and website. She is most definitely not an owner of a farm...but one tiny misunderstanding leads her boss, Gilbert, to think she owns her twin sister Holly's farm just outside of Columbus. Laurel only handles the social media for the farm, but she's happy to keep her little white lie going if it means not getting fired. And keep it going she must when Gilbert, recently dumped by his wife, invites himself over for the farm's big holiday dinner (as advertised on Meadow Rise Farm's Instagram, thanks to Laurel herself). Laurel immediately goes into panic mode to figure out how she can trick Gilbert into thinking she's basically the Martha Stewart of rural Ohio and keep her job in the process. Laurel and Holly come up with a plan--all Laurel has to do is pretend to own the farm for one dinner. But when Laurel shows up at the farm, an unwelcome guest is there: Max Beckett, her nemesis since Holly's wedding. The annoyingly attractive man she hates will be posing as Laurel's husband just for the evening, but when a snowstorm traps them all for the entire weekend, Laurel is going to have to figure out how to survive with her job and dignity intact. Whatever the case, this promises to be the most eventful Christmas in ages..."

Laurel Grant's life is finally coming together. She has a new job at a local magazine where she writes about all things Ohio. She has featured her twin sister's local farm as she is the social media manager there, but her boss is under the assumption that it's her who owns the farm. Cue the mixup on top of the fact that she invited him (last minute!) to a holiday dinner at the farm. She doesn't want to lose this job, so she enlists her sister to help her keep up the facade. Her sister has chosen her husband's best friend, Max, to "play" Laurel's husband--could things get any worse? Laurel hates Max; cue the drama. How can she pretend to be married to her nemesis and an all around major grump? A storm brings the Grants, her boss, and Max together and before they know it, sparks are flying between Max and Laurel. Readers who enjoy Hallmark movies, as well as a good fake dating trope, should pick up Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey this holiday season.

Laurel is a bit of a mess, but I found her to be endearing though. There's a lot of miscommunication hijinks when it comes to the issue with her boss, but she doesn't exactly correct him. Before she knows it, she has to keep up the facade and pretend to be married to Max. Max is the usual brooding grump that slowly melts readers' hearts in romance novels. The enemies-to-lovers and the fake dating trope are strong in 
Faking Christmas. Combine that with holiday drama and you've got yourself a Hallmark holiday movie that is equal parts funny and heartwarming. In fact, it's a modern take on the classic film Christmas in Connecticut, so now I have to go watch it!

Meet Me at Christmas by Jenny Hale
Pages: 276
Genre: Romance/Holiday
Publisher: Harpeth Road Press
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "From the USA Today bestselling author of the book-to-TV stories Coming Home for Christmas and Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses , with over one million copies of her books sold, comes a heartwarming holiday read that’s perfect for fans of Sheila Roberts, Debbie Macomber, and Jill Shalvis. Traveling writer and researcher Stella Fisher is working in London when she's called home to her family’s farmhouse in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee to help her mother through the first Christmas without her father. Compounding the situation, her younger sister Lily has run off to get married without telling anyone. When Stella arrives home, she doesn’t expect to find Henry Dutton , the man she’d left behind. As she could guess, after her heartbreaking exit so many years ago, he isn’t speaking to her. What she doesn’t realize, however, is there’s a much bigger reason to blame for his unfriendly reception. She quickly becomes the one person he believes can fix everything, but she isn’t sure about that. She thought she’d buried her past, yet the look in his alluring blue eyes brings it all right back to the surface. Under the glitter of the holiday trees at the local lot called Christmas, Stella uncovers more than she’d ever imagined. Will she be able to return to her old life? Or will the unexpected be the biggest Christmas gift of all? A heartwarming holiday escape that will have you rushing to your loved ones this Christmas. If you enjoyed the Christmas movies based on Jenny’s books and are looking for more feel-good, small-town romance, look no further!"

Stella Fisher has returned home to Tennessee for Christmas. Her mother needs her as this is the first Christmas they are facing since the death of her father. Her sister, Lily, has run off to get married giving the rest of the family little to no details, so it's just her and her mother this holiday season. Stella has been consumed as a writer and researcher, so she hopes to continue working on her piece while at home this holiday season. Her piece requires her to do some research and observation at the local hospital, and while there she runs into Henry Dutton, her ex, who she didn't leave on good terms. Slowly, Stella gets used to being back at home and dealing with her ex, running into his sister, and helping her mother with her holiday plans. It feels good to be home, but the more time she spends with Henry the more she is questioning things, not to mention, what exactly happened to him. Henry is dealing with a lot and Stella has just scratched the surface. Meet Me at Christmas by Jenny Hale is a sweet story filled with tender moments and reminiscent of a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Stella is a delightful character in Meet Me at Christmas. I liked her relationship with her mom and her flashbacks to time spent with her dad. Her dad, who passed away, is still very much a part of her life and thought of daily, so that aspect of the novel was touching. Her relationship with Henry was also done well; I felt bad for all they have been through and some of it was a little depressing. I do think Hale balanced the heavy stuff well though and didn't make it too dark to weigh down this holiday read. Also, the setting was adorable; there were Christmas tree lots, holiday parades, and a surplus of hot chocolate, complete with small-town vibes that I really enjoyed. My only issue with Meet Me at Christmas was the use of flashbacks. While I liked the flashbacks, they were abrupt at times and felt clunky. Other than that, it was a delightful and very sweet holiday read. 


Have you read either of these Christmas novels? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Faking Christmas is on my TBR but I haven't gotten to it yet this year, so I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it!

    1. It was definitely one of my favorite holiday reads of 2023. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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