Meet Me in London by Georgia Toffolo (2021)
Victoria is an aspiring clothing designer who has hit some bumps in the road. Oliver is the heir to a department store empire. To make his parents think he's finally ready to settle down, he proposes a fake relationship to Victoria, but pretty soon, it doesn't feel so fake... I thought this was a cute idea for a holiday romance, but the execution fell short for me. The relationship between Victoria and Oliver never really felt fake, because there was such an attraction already there, so rooting for them was easy. Victoria has a secret that could seriously affect their future, though, and that did provide a bit of a question mark for their romance. What didn't work for me was the writing. It... wasn't great. So much telling, especially in awkward-sounding dialogue, not enough showing, and the characters often felt quite immature in the words Toffolo chose for them, which was unfortunate. But, it was a quick and sometimes cute read for the holiday season. 3 stars
Always, in December by Emily Stone (2021)
Josie hasn't enjoyed the holidays since her parents passed away in an accident when she was a child, but this year, she meets Max, and the time they spend together gives her hope that things may be changing. However, when he disappears, Josie must learn how to move forward on her own, which is difficult when Max keeps turning up at the most inopportune times. This was definitely a heavy story, almost melancholy at times. If you're looking for a sweet holiday romance, this is not the book for you. But if you're willing to get to know characters who have their reasons for not enjoying the holiday season, give this a try. Like I mentioned, Josie lost her parents at Christmas many years ago, but I was glad that she still had her grandparents and aunt to look out for her. There's something going on with Max that I figured out pretty quickly and from then on just kept wondering how he would talk to Josie about it. I liked the way that Josie and Max were continually brought together, and although I could understand Josie's reasons for not wanting to engage again with Max, I just wanted them to have the conversation they desperately needed to have. As the holidays come around again, they are given yet another chance, and this is where you need to have your tissues. Although there is so much sadness in this book, there are glimmers of happiness and hope, and for those reasons, I definitely think this is a book worth reading. 4 stars
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