Author: Jane Kolven
Overview from Goodreads:
Sometimes it takes everything going wrong to make you see how right things are.
Dana Gottfried is a stressed-out Jewish lesbian who’s just quit her job and wants to get home to see her grandmother. When her car breaks down in Indiana on Christmas Eve, Dana is stranded—until she’s rescued by Charlie, a pig farmer who doesn’t identify as male or female. Although they come from different worlds, Dana is intrigued by Charlie’s sense of humor and kindness. Despite her better judgment, Dana says yes when Charlie offers a ride.
But the journey home is paved with detours. From car accidents to scheming ex-girlfriends to a snowy and deserted Chicago Loop, everything that could go wrong on their road trip does, but it leads Dana on a path of self-discovery that just might end in love.
Either my expectations were too high or something just didn’t translate well from the description to the actual writing. The events in the description “But the journey home is paved with detours. From car accidents to scheming ex-girlfriends to a snowy and deserted Chicago Loop, everything that could go wrong on their road trip does, but it leads Dana on a path of self-discovery that just might end in love” does all occur, but I thought it was going to be more adventurous than it turned out to be. I found it to be almost boring where I just stopped caring about the different roadblocks. It also didn’t help that the journey was a lot shorter than I expected as they reach their initial destination well before the book ends. I went into reading under the impression that the destination would be during the conclusion and the two MCs would connect along the way as they face each new obstacle.
This book contains a lot of diversity and it was a huge selling point as it’s not included in many books (especially holiday romance novels). First, we have Dana who is a Jewish lesbian. She just quit her job in Cleveland and we find her on her way to her grandmother’s in a suburb of Chicago for the Christmas holidays. When her car unexpectedly breaks down she is picked up by a genderqueer (does not identify as male or female) pig farmer named Charlie. Dana has an instant attraction to Charlie and accepts the offer for a ride as Charlie will be travelling to a nearby destination (Deerfield which is another suburb of Chicago). Although Dana is extremely insistent about being there for Christmas with her nana, it’s never fully explored as to the reasons why and that made the tension of the journey very confusing to me. I couldn’t understand the urgency that Dana was supposed to be feeling if she doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I honestly had no clue if it was something special that her and her nana shared or if there was significance by spending that one day together.
Charlie’s story of being genderqueer outshone the romantic novel that I thought I was going to read. It was a very positive part of the story and I loved every second for finding out more about Charlie, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Their challenges with things that other people take for granted, using the bathroom you identify with, the pronouns people call you, etc. were a brilliant addition to the story as it’s something that not everyone will be familiar with. That being said, Charlie just seemed too perfect with no negative emotions about anything as every time Dana and Charlie disagreed they just seemed to automatically forgive everything Dana did. Typically when you’ve known someone less than a day, you don’t give them 100% forgiveness without at least taking some time to come to a consensus. Even though they were together for the majority of the book, the connection just wasn’t there to make it feel like they were together (it’s like the feeling of being lonely even though you’re surrounded by people – the romantic situations were there, but there wasn’t a lot of loving feelings felt).
As this is an insta-love book, you don’t get a lot of will they-won’t they like a lot of other novels in this genre. However, if you are going to include it, then it should happen in a more believable and organic fashion. Unfortunately, this novel missed the mark. It tried a little, but overall it just seemed forced and the two characters didn’t really mesh well together. Every time they either spoke or interacted, it just wasn’t convincing that this would be a lasting couple (sure they might be attracted to one another, but there was no real substance to the relationship). Overall, it was a decent story, but it just wasn’t one that I would read again.
**Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**