Author: Maggie Knox
A feel-good, holiday-themed romantic comedy about identical twins who switch lives in the days leading up to Christmas–perfect for fans of Christina Lauren’s In a Holidaze and Josie Silver’s One Day in December.
All they want for Christmas is a different life.
When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell–both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over.
With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician’s assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?
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The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox is a co-authored novel by Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley. Since I have not read either author before, I had no idea what to expect with this joint venture. The synopsis says that it is perfect for fans of another co-author duo, Christina Lauren, and I think this is a great fit where the novel has a cohesive feel despite being written by two individuals.
Charlie Goodwin is trying to win against Austin Nash on their baking show in Los Angeles when she accidentally ends up with a concussion. Here she is taken to the hospital where she meets physician’s assistant Miguel Rodriguez who tells her she needs to avoid bright lights, which is difficult considering she films for tv. This triggers Charlie to propose a switch between herself and her twin sister Cass. Back in their hometown of Starlight Peak (just north of LA), Cass just rejected the proposal of her boyfriend, Brett, and is feeling overwhelmed running her family’s bakery, Woodworn Breads Bakery. The story is a whirlwind at the beginning as there is a lot of info-dumping on each sister, their reasons for needing a break, and love interest introductions.
When the two sisters switch lives, it goes pretty much as expected in a Hallmark-style. The only thing that I wished was explained was why the two sisters did not do a Parent Trap-style session where they go over the basics of what the other needs to know before the switch. Instead, the two sisters must navigate the unknowns. During the switch, Cass gets to know Miguel more while Charlie gets to know local firefighter, Jake Greenman, who frequents Woodworn with his grandmother, Faye. Both love interests were adorable, and I loved the two couples. My only difficult part was why Charlie and Cass could not tell them the truth from the start as it would not have made a different in the switch aside from avoiding drama. I understand the idea behind it, but I just wish there were some stakes given to make it a little more plausible yet keeping with the fantasy-type Hallmark-vibe.
Austin made an excellent villain as he would be an HR nightmare, including giving unwanted massages to others. I loved him as the “villain” in Charlie’s life. Brett was technically the “villain” in Cass’s life as he had a difficult time letting go of the relationship. I felt this was very glossed over as Cass and Brett were together for ten years and Cass just tells him one day that she can’t do it anymore and in Brett’s eyes she moved on in less than a week. I feel that this made me like Cass and Charlie less as Brett never knew Cass had issues in the relationship and just was very confused and deserved at least a little closure. Brett was not perfect in the relationship, but its Cass and Charlie’s treatment of this relationship came across a little immature. I don’t think they needed to make Brett terrible where he would be similar to Austin, but I feel like they needed more to where I disliked him rather than feel sympathy for him.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable light read. The small-town setting outshines LA, but they provided nice contrasts with each other. There were a few moments where it was difficult to distinguish Cass and Charlie’s chapters as the two read similarly, however they were both great characters. The food descriptions are a huge highlight of the novel, and I enjoyed the holiday feeling. Each romance was sweet, although they were less front and center than I thought they were going to be when I began this novel. For me, there was a larger focus on the sisters themselves and both trying to make sense of the worlds around them. Even though I felt there were elements missing from the story, it was a nice escape-type holiday read.
Vixen Prompt: A book you want to read but think might be overhyped. (15 pts)
Christmas Lights Bonus Points! (An ebook) (15 pts)