Now that November and NaNoWriMo are behind me, I’m playing catchup on the backlog of AMAZING book ARCs I have. I really struggled this fall reading Christmas stories before the Christmas season, but now that I’m digging into them, I’m sorry I waited. I’ve got two Christmas romances for you that have the comforting, heartwarming feeling of a Hallmark move AND, with their travel themes, just may scratch that travel itch you’ve got. Sarah Morgan’s One More for Christmas takes us to Scotland, and Sandy Barker’s The Christmas Swap main characters travel to Melbourne, Australia, to Penham, England, AND Breckenridge, Colorado.
Many thanks to the publishers for providing me advance copies via NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
I’ve got two very different but equally charming Christmas-themed books for you. The first book, One More For Christmas, is a romance, but even more, a poignant story about family. The Christmas Swap is just a delightful rom-com that is perfect for fans of The Holiday.
One More For Christmas
"Readers will be delighted." --Publishers Weekly starred review on One More for Christmas
From the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Christmas Sisters and A Wedding in December comes this sparkling tale of Christmas redemption...
For sisters Samantha and Ella Mitchell, Christmas is their most precious time of the year. But this year, they'll be buying presents for the most unexpected guest of all--their mother. It's been five years since they last saw each other. But when their mom calls out of the blue, Samantha and Ella cautiously agree to spend Christmas all together in the beautiful Scottish Highlands...
Gayle Mitchell is at the top of her career, but her success has come at a price--her relationship with her daughters. Her tough-love approach to parenting was designed to make them stronger, but instead managed to push them away...until a brush with her own mortality forces Gayle to make amends.
As the snowflakes fall on their first family celebration in years, the Mitchell women must learn that sometimes facing up to the past is all you need to heal your heart...
One More For Christmas is a lovely tale of families and forgiveness and redemption. It’s also the story of how one’s past affects one’s future decisions, but also of how it’s hard to understand someone’s choices when you don’t know their story. And, finally, how as parents, while looking back we might regret past decisions, they might have been the best we could choose at that time.
In Sarah Morgan’s heartwarming tale, Gayle Mitchell has an experience that offers up a come-to-Jesus kind of moment, which causes her to reach out to her estranged daughters.
Gayle was an emotionally distant, demanding parent with little time for frivolity – including Christmas, which was honestly just heartbreaking to imagine. Samantha and Ella are particularly close siblings because of it and have created their own Christmas traditions over the years. Gayle’s attempt to patch up her relationship with her girls by trying to join in their Christmas festivities inadvertently sends them all to Scotland, where Samantha needs to preview a Scottish estate for her holiday travel business.
The family they stay with in Scotland also is going through a bit of turmoil after the death of their patriarch leaves the family estate in a precarious financial situation, so along with a bit of romance, there’s also family tensions as the individual members come to terms with what opening their house up to strangers will mean to them.
Gayle is a particularly vividly drawn character, and the relationship she has with her daughters is quite poignant. Emma is more forgiving and open, but Samantha shares similarities with her mother, whether she realizes it or not, and their relationship is more of a tightrope. While each of the characters grow and change over the course of the story, Gayle’s is most pronounced and gratifying.
With a moody, lush Scottish winter setting in a remote estate, big emotions, wonderful dialogue, One More For Christmas is just a lovely story that shows the sacrifices of motherhood, forgiveness, and the bonds of family.
The Christmas Swap
The Christmas Swap: A wonderfully festive Christmas romance for fans of The Holiday by Sandy Barker
Published by HarperCollins UK on October 16, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy, Holiday
Buy on Amazon
”This was truly the Christmas romance of my dreams” 5 ★, Reader review
Will all three women have their Christmas wishes come true?
Christmas is coming and best friends Chloe, Jules, and Lucy are needing change... so swapping homes for the holidays could be the perfect present for all of them!
Australian Chloe spends her Christmas in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England.
She is totally star-struck when she discovers who lives across the road.
Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.
And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend her Christmas on a beach with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away is just what she needed.
The only thing better than one Christmas romance is three, and this wonderful festive novel is perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Holly Martin, and Karen Swan.
The Christmas Swap offers a happy wink and a nod to The Holiday, one of my favorite Christmas movies! This is the story of three best friends, Chloe, Lucy, and Jules who decide to shake things up at Christmas and swap homes and families. And, in the way of The Holiday, each of the girls falls for an equally charming man at their destination.
All of the girls are facing turning points in their lives or pressures with their careers. Jules is looking for a change in general, Chloe is looking for a change in careers, and Lucy has issues with her new manager which has turned her job into a bit of a nightmare. For each, the trip becomes somewhat life-changing. I think the most personal growth is seen in Lucy, as she becomes more confident and self-assured over the course of her trip.
Of course, drama ensues with Chloe in England AND between Jules and Lucy, as Lucy has fallen for Jules’ younger brother! The three friends interact (and their stories come together) through telephone calls between the friends.
The author does a wonderful job with setting in each of the three locales, especially with Melbourne, offering up a lovely escape from my comfy chair. There’s a cinematic element to the story, and I can easily see this turned into a movie. There are also delightful side characters that add a lot of personality to each storyline.
Lighthearted and charming, set aside your incredulity of each of the three finding their soulmate at the same time while traveling abroad and enjoy the story. My only niggle is that some of the words that the characters use which are considered more regional in the story (and so unknown and silly to the other half of the couple) didn’t ring as strange as the characters found them.
Sandy Barker does it again with another charming romance. This story is perfect for fans of Phillipa Ashley, Susan Mallery, and Jenny Hale.
Looking for more stories like these? Check out this roundup of Christmas romances!