In a Holidaze
by Christina Lauren
The photo you see above is my physical copy of In a Holidaze, which I purchased from my monthly Book of the Month subscription (after receiving the ARC from Netgalley).
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited to see this title pop up on Netgalley over the summer. I read an ARC of one of Christina Lauren’s previous novels, The Unhoneymooners, and absolutely adored it. I could not wait to see what this fantastic writing duo would do with a traditional holiday romance with a twist.
I want to start off by saying I wish I had read this book first in my holiday readathon. I’ve even toyed with the idea of going back and amending some of my previous reviews, because this book reminded me just how good Christina Lauren are at their craft.
Any of my complaints from my previous holiday readathon books were null and void in In a Holidaze. There was no repetitive dialogue that refused to advance the plot forward, there aren’t any inherently unlikable characters, and it hit all my Christmas buttons.
If you took out the romance, I think this novel could still stand on its own. That’s how good the overall plot and character development is throughout the story. The romance is an incredible bonus, because Christina Lauren have figured out how to write it in the exact way that I want to read it.
I’ve sort of gushed over this book without giving any context, haven’t I? In a Holidaze is centered around a group of college roommates and friends. This group eventually becomes parents to our main characters, who are now in their middle to late twenties.
Maelyn is the only daughter of this second generation, and has been in love with the oldest boy since she was thirteen. Maelyn is a rule follower, even if the rules manifest into her unhappiness. I won’t go into the circumstances too much, because that was part of the fun of this book, but Maelyn ends up making a wish that she wants to find out what makes her happy. All of a sudden her vacation starts over. And over. And over, until she gets it right.
I do want to put a little, tiny, itty bitty trigger warning on this book. I’m not sure it will affect many readers, but it did hit a small nerve for me personally and I think that’s enough of a reason to mention it to a wider audience. When Maelyn makes a mistake in her new timeline, she begins to beg for the timeline to start over. However, in order for the timeline to restart Maelyn needs to be grievously injured or, we can assume, killed.
As the reader, this came unnervingly close to suicidal ideation. I think Christina Lauren did a fantastic job at swerving away from this a paragraph later, but it was still a triggering moment for me. I think if the story had lingered in this unsettled state for too long it could have been harmful, but the authors did a really great job at easing the tension, and bringing us back into the whimsy and joy of the season.
Let’s get back to the happy place of this novel: the romance. What a sizzle! I thought the book was going to catch on fire! While it started slow and with some trepidation, once the characters figured out what they wanted they took off full speed ahead. I personally loved how steamy moments were at times punctuated with awkward, adorable, family interruptions. It was a great reminder that this story is about family, as well as redefining yourself in (what should be) a safe space to grow.
This was the perfect book to escape into as the holidays approach. You can feel the outpouring of love as well as a healthy dose of family dysfunction, which kept a story about magical time travel grounded. This is the best holiday romance I’ve read so far for my readathon, and I’m honestly not sure anything will be able to top it. I’m already excited to read it again next year.