When I read about Holidate being published, I knew it was a book for me. I love holiday romances! I’m the person who watches all of the Hallmark Christmas movies. I live for them really, haha. On top of that, add a main character with my first name and I’m ready to go. I had really high expectations of this story and it’s time to tell you if Holidate lived up to them! Also, keep reading for a little excerpt of this book.
A big thanks to the author and Social Butterfly PR for providing me with an ARC to read and review!
Holidate by Monica Murphy
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Holidate, an all-new standalone contemporary holiday romance by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Monica Murphy.
Candice Gaines loves Christmas. Not only does she bask in the twinkling lights, sing Christmas carols and go crazy with the decorations, she’s also in the giving spirit, donating much of her time and wealth to various charities in the local area.
Charlie Sullivan despises Christmas. Though it keeps his family afloat, considering they own Sullivan Family Christmas Tree Farm, the main provider for Christmas trees on the Monterey peninsula. He’d much rather work among the trees versus have to deal with people.
But Charlie’s parents are taking on more philanthropic projects—and as their oldest child, they want him to be their official public representative. He just has to play nice and convince everyone he’s not a total holiday hater.
When Charlie’s mom asks Candice to accompany him to a variety of holiday parties and events, she reluctantly agrees. She thinks Charlie is a big ol’ Grinch, but is determined to change his mindset and help him spread Christmas cheer. Charlie finds Candice too chatty, too sweet, too much. Do people like her really exist?
Why yes, yes they do. The more time they spend together—along with a few kisses under the mistletoe—the more they start to like each other. Hopefully Charlie can convince Candice he doesn’t have a heart that’s two sizes too small before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.
A stand-alone, contemporary romance.
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Holidate is my first book by this author and in this series, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. It’s clear while reading that some of the characters in the story are from previous books, but I didn’t feel left out. That being said, I am curious about the first two books and plan on picking them up.
But back to Holidate! Our main character, Candice, loves everything Christmas. Her mother left her money when she passed away, so she doesn’t have to work. So Candice devotes her time to charities and volunteering, especially around Christmas. Giving her time to plan a great Christmas scene and you’ll get what you need.
I enjoyed Candice’s character. Just like her, I love Christmas! I could go to all the events she talks about. It’s clear that there’s more behind her love for this holiday though. I can’t imagine what it’s like losing your mother, but I loved that she tried keeping her memory going with her charity work around the holidays. I can definitely relate to her though, because I’m just as nuts when it comes to Christmas. The music, movies, food and drinks are all things I love. It’s really the most happiest time of the year.
Charlie is in many ways the grinch of this story. He helps run his family’s Christmas Tree lot and will eventually take over. Charlie is very serious about his work and doesn’t think he has time for anything else. Especially social events to help promote the family business. Working in this field though has made it hard to Charlie to get the Christmas spirit. I loved that he slowly opened up to Candice during this book and started enjoying all the holiday things while seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I think he slowly learned that he’s more than just the company he works for.
While I did enjoy this book, it wasn’t the five star read I was hoping for and that was caused by a few things. I did not like Charlie’s mother and how she approached things. I would’ve loved to have seen this arrangement start for a different reason. This just didn’t feel right to me. Also, I needed more chapters from Charlie’s POV. I missed his thoughts throughout the story.
Also, the story is mostly Charlie and Candice going to events, planning to go to one, being rude to each other or complaining about each other. I missed the connection between the characters. It slowly starts to show near the end, but I didn’t get enough of them. I needed more interaction between them to complete this holiday romance. It wasn’t bad, but it felt a bit lacking at times.
Charlie and Candice are a really cute couple and I love how this story came to an end. The charity event organized and the grand gesture from Charlie at the end really melted my heart. That’s exactly the “Hallmark” feeling I was waiting to get from this story. Holidate definitely made me want to go get my Christmas tree and it’s only October! If you’re looking for a sweet and fun romance during the holidays, Holidate is one to enjoy sipping cocoa next to the decorated Christmas tree.
I go chasing after Charlie, thankful he hasn’t hopped back on that ATV and torn out of here. He’s headed straight for the giant red building, and I follow behind, having to pick up my step since one of his long strides equals about three of mine. He’s just so stinkin’ tall.
And he smells good. Have I mentioned that? He smells like a pine tree, of course, and his scent is mouth-wateringly delicious.
Ugh. I hate myself sometimes.
He pushes open the door of the building almost violently, sending it swinging wide, and I sneak in behind him, causing him to turn and practically snarl at me when he realizes I’m standing in front of him.
But I forget all about his snarl when I see how enchanting this room is. It’s not an office, but an actual store, filled to the brim with holiday decorations and knickknacks for sale. Candles are burning—I can smell cinnamon and spice wafting in the air. The scent of the real pine trees laden with ornaments standing in the room also lingers, and I breathe deep, closing my eyes for a moment so I can take it all in.
When I open my eyes, it’s to find Charlie standing there, his hands on his hips, his brow lowered. “Are you okay? That head injury still flaring up and giving you trouble?”
I roll my eyes. “No, you idiot. I’m enjoying the festive atmosphere.”
Oh, that was mean. I shouldn’t have said that.
But I don’t think he even noticed.
I slowly turn in a circle, pure delight flowing through my veins. I don’t know what to look at first, it’s all so beautiful. And there are layers upon layers of decorations. On the walls, cluttering shelves and tabletops, overflowing giant baskets. And of course there are the trees. They almost sag with their bounty of sparkling ornaments and twinkling lights. It would probably take me hours to explore it all, and I’m dying to start my exploration right at this very moment. “This store is so adorable!”
“My sister Victoria runs it.” He glances over at the counter where the register sits, but no one’s there. “I don’t know where she’s at, though. Maybe you could talk to her about—whatever it is you want to talk about.”
No way is he pushing this agenda onto his sister. Isabel wants Charlie to do this, and no one else.
“We’ve wasted the past five minutes with you huffing and puffing and refusing to speak to me.” I reach into my large bag and pull the folder out I wanted to show him. “Give me ten minutes. That’s all I need to talk about what we’re going to do over the next few weeks.”
He grimaces. Sighs. Tugs the cap off his head, all that gorgeous hair spilling across his forehead, and my fingers literally itch at the chance to push it out of his eyes.
But I restrain myself.
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and HarperCollins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.
She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.
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Holidate definitely put me in the spirit of Christmas! If you’re like me and love everything Christmas, please let me know what books you love reading next to your Christmas tree! I definitely need more suggestions for the upcoming holidays.