I’ll say it up front: I don’t read a ton of romance. It’s just not my genre of choice. Many other genres have romantic elements to them of course, though they aren’t generally the main focus. However, I do find myself looking for fun winter books at this time of year, and when I came across a holiday romance novel with a Groundhog Day twist? I decided to pick it up. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a repeating day trope… is that big enough to be a trope? Let’s pretend that it is. Holiday spoilers lie ahead!

In A Holidaze Summary

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Christina Lauren – In A Holidaze Cover

We begin the story on the tail end of a family Christmas get together. Maelyn Jones has just spent a less than stellar vacation – after a less than stellar year – with her family and good friends at their cabin in Utah, a tradition that repeats itself yearly. It’s nostalgic and comfortable… only this year it isn’t. Mae’s been in love with Andrew since she was thirteen, but she’s never admitted it. And now she’ll never be able to. After one too many eggnogs the night before, Mae gave in to a drunken makeout with Theo – Andrew’s brother – and now things are beyond awkward. Also Andrew saw this makeout, guaranteeing that he’ll never see her as anything more than a ‘little sister’ type. And to top things off, Andrew and Theo’s parents have announced that they’re selling the cabin. Everything is changing, and Mae is freaking out. 

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I was coming out here to ask why you were acting so weird, but I see I need to keep things present tense

On the way back to the airport, Mae sends out a plea to the universe “Please show me what will make me happy”. The next thing she knows, metal is screeching and the car is crashing. She jolts and screams, waking up to… her seat on the plane? Beyond confused, Mae quickly realizes that she’s rewound by six days, and is on her way back to the cabin. No makeout, no cabin selling, no terrible death apparently. After she arrives at the cabin and a second stair-related death occurs, it happens again. Back on the plane, headed to the cabin. As time goes on, Mae decides she’s meant to be doing this, meant to be fixing things. With one trusted friend along for the ride, she’ll work to right wrongs and figure out what will really make her happy.

In A Holidaze Review

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In A Holidaze – Cabin Representation

So this is my first Christina Lauren novel, and I’ll admit up front that since romance tends to be a side plot as opposed to the main focus in the majority of my reading, I had no idea that Christina Lauren is actually an author duo made up of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. Who knew? Not this reader, that’s for sure. Anyway, growing up I spent a decent amount of time at my grandmothers’ place, and plowed through a lot of books while I was there.

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I had the unfortunate habit of only bringing one book – which I would finish quickly – and then have nothing else to jump into. My grandmother did a lot of romance reading (do all grandmothers do this or is it just me?) so her bookshelves were heavily populated with the likes of Nora Roberts and other Harlequin romances. This is basically the only reason that during my teenage years I read a large quantity of bodice-rippers.

As these were my introduction into the world of romance literature, I wasn’t particularly keen to continue devouring stories of ridiculously attractive people with no money or work issues falling in love at first sight – usually on a ranch or in a cookie cutter small town. So I was curious – but reluctant – to read this book. Of course this is only one piece of what modern romance stories are like, but I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of too much fluff and focus on the comedy of the situation. I’ve never read a Nicholas Sparks book but I don’t think there are too many of his characters being killed by a tree branch in the middle of a snowman building competition.

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In A Holidaze Book

In A Holidaze took a detour from the usual over the top romance tropes that I’m accustomed to and focuses on the idea of family and traditions that we hold onto. Much of Mae’s crisis revolves around fear over the sale of the cabin and what she’s doing with her life. Her fear of confessing her feelings to Andrew only take the driver’s seat once the week begins repeating itself. I suppose once you’re in a time loop that you don’t know you’ll ever get out of you may as well just go for it right?

I’ve essentially handed my heart over to the person who’s had it on reserve for half my life, and I’m terrified that he doesn’t realize what he’s holding

By the time the third repeat of the holiday rolls around the romance definitely takes center stage. Andrew’s character is sweet – if a little too romance novel perfect at times – but it’s Mae who feels properly grounded in reality as a young woman who hasn’t figured everything out yet. She’s the girl we’ve all been at some point or another, with unrequited feelings for someone totally clueless to them.

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I will say that the majority of the supporting characters definitely feel as though they’re on the periphery, and in some cases not fully formed, but in the grand scheme of things I guess it doesn’t matter too much. The story lost me a bit with such a heavy focus on the emotional moments and conversations, but I believe that this was more about my personal taste than the writing itself. Christina Lauren do a lovely job of sweet moments into scenes, and a developing of feelings that are genuine. The story wraps up with a happy ending of course, but not without a few bumps along the way.

Final Thoughts

When starting In A Holidaze, I thought that I was going to be questioning the time loop, Groundhog Day aspect of the story more than I was. Strangely enough it’s written in such a whimsical, almost morbid sort of way that I didn’t think too much about it. I think I can find the horror in any story, but finding it here in this rom com might be next level.

This was a fun, lighthearted read for December and the holiday season. It’s not to my usual taste, but that’s personal preference more than anything else. I don’t think it’s changed my feelings about romance novels in general, but if this is the direction that modern romance has taken then it’s leaps and bounds ahead of rakish counts and bosoms overflowing out of corsets, and I’m all for that. In A Holidaze is a whimsical holiday story with more humour and genuine emotion than it could have had. I for one hope that I never get trapped in a time loop, but if I do I hope that I did I’d take the bull by the horns and handle it as well as Mae did.

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6.5
Score

Pros

  • Grounded protagonist
  • Heartfelt relationships
  • Humor factor

Cons

  • Romance overtakes plot
  • Underdeveloped supporting characters
  • No explanation of time loop
  • Wrapped up in a bow ending
Romance
8/10
Protagonist
7/10
Time Loop
5/10
Ending
5/10
Humor
7/10
Side Characters
5/10

Final Verdict

In A Holidaze is a a fun lighthearted take on Groundhog Day with a romantic twist, well suited to those looking for an easy escape this holiday season.