In a Holiday by Christina Lauren

Title: In a Holidaze
Author: Christin Lauren
Published: October 2020
Publisher: Piatkus
Readership: Adult
Genre: Romance
Rating: ★★★★




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 favourite place in the world – the snowy cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born. Mentally melting down as she drives away 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, everything goes black . . . When Mae gasps awake, she’s back on an airplane, beginning 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 hilarious hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

I’ve only read  a small sample of Christina Lauren’s books and I know that this book has divided opinions depending on how long someone has been reading their books, but I found In a Holidaze to be a quick, easy, Christmas-y read. It was the perfect way to escape on the couch with a cup of tea and walk away from it feeling (on the whole) pretty happy with my reading experience.

Maelyn Jones loves Christmas, and the traditions that her family observes – namely, spending the holidays with her parents’ college friends and their families at a snowy cabin. The fact that it allows her to spend time with long-time crush, Andrew, is a bonus. But this Christmas, after an ill-advised eggnog-induced bad decision, Mae believes everything’s ruined, until an accident sends her back to relive the same holiday again. (And again and again.)

In a Holidaze is definitely a contemporary romance with a little bit of (maybe) magical realism/speculative fiction as Mae travels back in time four times. Be advised, there’s no real explanation for why it happens, it’s just something that does happen and as I read on I just came to accept it as a plot device that works in this particular story. It also only takes place in the first third of the book so it’s not like you’re constantly re-reading the same scenes over and over again, which I think worked in the book’s favour.

As a protagonist, Mae is likeable, if a bit at a crossroads in her life. She knows she made a mistake in her first attempt at these holidays and as she relives the same day again and again she becomes bolder in going for what (and who) she really wants in her life. She has the opportunity to see how some of her different choices play out and that helps her grow as a character.

Her love interest (can’t say who without spoiling it!) is someone we only see through Mae’s perspective, but he is warm and endearing and obviously smitten with her. He’s also quiet and reserved with most other people and this does play a role, later in the book, in the complication.

I had one small (okay, not so small) quibble with one of the side characters, Benny. I loved him, loved that there was an Australian ‘uncle’ in the story, but really disliked the stereotyping of an Australian taking drugs or being perceived to be always being ‘high.’ While I appreciate that there are plenty of people all over the world, including Australians, who might partake in that lifestyle, but I thought it was kind of a crass choice in this holiday story, since it seemed to be in there for laughs rather than to serve a serious purpose.

That said, I loved the Christmas-y elements, and the holiday traditions described. Between all four families that celebrated together at the cabins there are a range of personalities, age-groups and favourite seasonal activities, and the interplay between all of these ranged from fun, to cute, to outright funny.

I’m glad I read it this holiday season.

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