Etta

Review: Write Before Christmas (ARC)

Expected publication: November 30th 2020

Author: Julie Hammerle

You’ve probably heard of me.
Reclusive fantasy author turned famous when his series got developed into a mega TV hit.
Except now I’m way behind deadline, and the whole world is waiting to see what I’ll write next.
The pressure is getting to me, and I. Can’t. Write.
Cue: small town where people don’t recognize me.
Cue: my assistant insisting on a personal chef to keep me fed and nothing more.
Cue: finding the first bit of inspiration I’ve felt in months whenever she’s around…
Am I a walking cliche now, or what?
Dani Cooper seems to have her own hurdles to jump this holiday season. Newly divorced, looking for her next move. She’s the first person who’s seen me for me in way too long. And I see her, too–as way more than just an employee, a divorcee, a cook. She’s becoming my muse…
But when my Christmas deadline hits, will it spell the end of us, too?

This book is an adorable Hallmark-style romance with mature adults. It was refreshing to have two main characters in their 40s at two different points in their lives coming together to make it work in a modern world. There’s the age of social media and influencers that are explored somewhat throughout the story as both main characters have their own relationship with different platforms and the side characters, two of which have strong social media presences. The overall novel is light-hearted and makes for an easy feel-good read.

Dani is a divorced 45-year-old who was a homemaker while raising her now teenage daughter for almost the past twenty years. After her divorce, she moves back in with her parents and now has to navigate how to return to the career world. She was a teacher in the past, but that doesn’t seem to be what she wants to return to. Instead, at the insistence of her sister-in-law, creates a vision board which leads her to begin exploring her love of food. She’s not sure exactly what she wants to do exactly yet for a job, but she knows she wants to try this option.

Matt is an author, who recently exploded to fame with his newest series, the Bastyan Saga, which has been adapted into a hit T.V. show, The Saga. With the final novel in the trilogy’s manuscript due right before Christmas, he decides to follow his assistant, Jane, to her quiet hometown for some needed isolation to finish writing. He faces a similar situation to Game of Thrones where the next season will be filming possibly before the final novel is complete. Matt feels the pressure to finish the novel so what is filmed for the final season is the ending he envisioned.

Jane insists that Matt get a housekeeper/cook during his stay so he can focus on his writing. She ends up hiring Dani, who just happens to the woman he was attracted to while meeting during one of his runs previously. They also shared a kiss right before her start date. The kiss situation was very out of the blue as there was no build-up. It seemed like they looked at each other and said “why not” and then kissed without a lot of substance behind it. Now with Dani working for Matt, the two of them have to navigate this new relationship with the logistics of him not being a permanent resident of the town and his need to finish the novel by the deadline.

I loved Dani’s journey to find a new career path that suited her needs. She’s at a new place in her life and her wants have changed compared to when she was working before her past marriage. She wasn’t even sure that food was the right area as it was just a picture that interested her in her vision board’s creation. This is very relatable and a shout-out to vision boards as they can help people visualize dreams that might not have been clear to them otherwise. She’s willing to try ideas to find what she wants to do as a career and it was nice to read about, as it’s a very relatable concept to people of any age.

Dani and Matt have an attraction to each other and great communication. Although they can’t always fully articulate everything to each other, they try their best to open up as much as they can. Matt has trepidation as he’s been burned many times by people who have been after getting close to him for his fame and it’s nice that Dani respected his fear. I like how supportive each of their networks, her family and his assistant, were of their union while also being open about their own opinions about why them being together would either be good or bad. It was refreshing to have such open communication and support in a novel and not have a ton of focus on drama. There is some in this story, but it’s not the dominate feature.

Overall, it is a heart-warming tale that is great for all types of audiences of romance as it’s not as detailed as many other novels of the same genre. I’m a complete fan of both types and enjoyed this novel’s tone as it fit with the story. All the characters remained true to themselves and each played their part in the story. The novel was a very enjoyable read and it intrigued me to read the next novel by this author.

**Thank you very much to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing, LLC for an ARC for me to review. Opinions expressed are completely my own. **

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