I would love for you to read In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren, so we can discuss whether or not you felt the build up to the plot twist that never came.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, so let’s get into it!
In a Holidaze
It’s Groundhog Day but for Christmas, and our heroine, Mae, finds herself transporting back in time to the beginning of her Christmas vacation every time the Universe decides she screws something up.
I love Groundhog Day, so I was completely on board for this contemporary romance when Mae suddenly started reliving the same Christmas vacation. Christmas vacation for the Hollises and the Joneses means a cabin in Park City, Utah. The parents were all friends in college, and now come to the cabin for a week at Christmas to all be together.
This is an awesome plot device, because it enables to the author to play with a whole host of characters. You have the two sets of friends who married (and divorced in one case), and then their respective grown children, three men and one woman, including our heroine Mae. You also have Aaron who married Kyle, an outsider to the group, and they adopted twins. Then you have Benny, an Aussie hippie who cruises through this story like a taco truck at lunch hour.
Let’s Talk About Mae
I read some reviews critical of Mae, but I liked her. She is exactly what a twenty-something year old is. She makes a lot of stupid mistakes, creates a mess by making out with Theo, one of the Hollis sons, and the Universe gives her a do-over.
Mae has moved back in with her mother in Berkeley after a failed attempt to “make it” in Los Angeles. She is feeling defeated and frustrated with her job when she’s passed up for a program she wanted to lead. The one part of this that felt forced was Mae’s reliance on her mother’s approval. This seemed like a plot device to create tension, but the plot already had enough tension. This point was extraneous.
When I discuss the one fatal flaw with this book, you’ll understand Mandrew better, but for now, let’s talk about Mae’s love interest, the other Hollis boy, Andrew.
In the first go of Christmas vacation, Mae drunkenly makes out with Theo, Andrew’s younger brother. Mortified by this, especially after Theo tells her it wasn’t a big deal, Mae asks the Universe to show her what will make her happy. Hence, the time traveling.
In the next versions of Christmas vacation, Mae digs into her feelings for Andrew, which she’s had forever. So let’s analyze Andrew as a character. I spent the second half of the book asking myself if Andrew was really a romance novel hero. Because in my book, he was not.
The man has no flaws.
I love flaws! Flaws creates tension and drama and magic moments. Andrew was a guitar playing soul man from Denver who always knew how to do the exact right thing, and Mae groveled at his feet.
Andrew also lacked a goal, motivation, or conflict. He mentions that he has no where to go in his job, but he loves it. The subject is then dropped. Andrew struggles with nothing. He doesn’t develop as a character over the course of the story.
This leads me to the plot twist that never happened.
The Plot Twist I Really Wanted But Was Never Delivered
When the story opens, it’s the morning after Mae made out with a drunken Theo. Theo ignores her at breakfast and tells her it’s not a big deal. For obvious reasons, Mae is upset. Theo is described as a player, always messing with women and their emotions.
From right there on, I thought – oh man, Theo is going to be redeemed, and it’s going to be awesome.
The Theo plot line was dropped. Theo was a much more interesting character with potential for tension and conflict. Theo and Mae had been close their whole lives until Mae dug in for Andrew. (i.e. more tension!) But this plot line went no where. Instead, the love interest is Andrew.
I was truly miffed by this. Andrew was vanilla to Theo’s death by chocolate with rainbow sprinkles. Not going for Theo was a missed opportunity in this story.
The Thing That Saved the Day
I recommend everyone read this book. In fact, read it twice. I recommend everyone buy multiple copies and give to friends. I sped through this book so quickly, searching for times to read just to get in a few more pages. Here’s why.
I devoured the ensemble cast and the rich descriptions of holiday traditions. I ate this freaking book up, because right now, in the midst of all this turmoil, all I wanted was to picture this family sitting by the fire, bathed in the soft glow of the lights on the Christmas tree.
This book is rampant with the humor we come to expect from the Christina Lauren duo, and you will not be disappointed at all. So while I had hoped a different pair would be found under the mistletoe, all my Christmas wishes still came true in this one.