Happy Monday everyone! As you can tell by how late I’m making a post today, it has been a day! We have two big work deadlines coming up on 10/15 so things have been a bit hectic. I have gotten a ton of reading done but have been too tired to actually sit down and write reviews. I did read two fabulous holiday romances last week though and wanted to share my thoughts now that they’re both available in stores.
A Winter in New York Goodreads
Author: Josie Silver
Publication Date: October 3, 2023
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Dell
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley and a complimentary ALC from Penguin Random House Audio. All opinions are my own.
Set in New York City around the holidays, Josie Silver’s new novel A Winter in New York follows Iris Raven, a young chef who, following the death of her mother, has just moved to New York City, looking for a fresh start. Iris and her mom spent countless evenings watching movies set in New York while eating delicious gelato from her mom’s favorite recipe. Those movies, however, did nothing to prepare Iris for just how huge the city really was.
Thankfully, Bobby, Iris’ neighbor and immediate best friend, makes it his mission to get her out into the city to experience it to the fullest. When he takes her to a food festival in Little Italy, Belotti’s, a family-run gelateria immediately catches Iris’ eye. She recognizes it from an old cherished photo of her mom’s and wants to visit the shop as a way to feel close to her mom again. What Iris doesn’t realize as she’s making plans to return the next day, is how truly life changing visiting this shop will actually be.
Iris returns the next day and is surprised to see Gio behind the counter, only because she has just recently met him in an awkward encounter at the bookstore. Gio and Iris get reacquainted, and he informs her that the shop is actually in danger of closing. His uncle Santo, the owner, is sick and in a coma, and because of a strict family rule, no one else knows the secret family recipe for their beloved gelato. As Gio tells this story, Iris starts to suspect that the recipe she and her mother have enjoyed for years may, in fact, be the Belotti secret recipe. Why would her mother have this family’s top secret recipe? Is there any way she can hand over the recipe without creating drama for this family since they’ll know that someone, probably Santo, gave the recipe to someone outside of the family? Iris decides the best course of action is to volunteer to help try to recreate the recipe. Her hope is to help save the business in time for the holiday season while also protecting both her mother and Santo.
This story really was a delightful and heartwarming read. I loved watching Gio and Iris work together every day to try to recreate this recipe. They of course have wonderful chemistry that Silver brings to life beautifully, but they are also both very much dealing with grief and loss. While Iris is still mourning the loss of her mom, Gio is grieving the loss of his wife. Working comfortably side by side every day allows both Iris and Gio to start moving past that grief and to find their way to one another. They had so many sweet moments together in that shop. The Belotti family was also fantastic and I adored them. They were a big-hearted, loud, loving family and it was just such a joy every time they appeared on the scene.
Another wonderful element of the story was Iris following the clues to figure out what exactly Belotti’s shop meant to her mother. We get some beautifully done flashback scenes to when Iris’ mom was a young woman living in the city. I love a good dual timeline story so I very much enjoyed watching this aspect of the story unfold.
I alternated between the e-book and the audio and thoroughly enjoyed both. Emma Appleton narrates the audiobook and she just did such a magnificent job creating distinct voices for each character and capturing both the humorous and the heartfelt moments of the story.
If you’re looking for a heartwarming, heartfelt holiday read, be sure to check out A Winter in New York. 4.5 STARS
Wreck the Halls Goodreads
Author: Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: October 3, 2023
Publisher: Avon and Harper Voyager
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
I know that I can always count on Tessa Bailey for an entertaining rom-com so I, of course, couldn’t resist her latest book, Wreck the Halls, a holiday-themed rom-com that features the adult children of two estranged former rock band mates who team up to try to convince their moms to reunite for a Christmas Eve concert.
Melody Gallard may be the daughter of a rock legend, but one awkward tabloid photo when she was a teen was enough to make Melody shun the spotlight and the attention that goes hand and hand with fame. Instead, she has chosen a quieter path for herself and spends her days restoring old books. When a producer comes forward and offers her a huge sum of money if she can convince her mom to reunite with her band on live TV, Melody wonders if this is a sign it’s time to step out of her comfort zone. She loves the idea of having enough money to be financially independent and is also very intrigued by the fact that she’ll have to team up with the only other person who can possibly convince the estranged band members to get back together, Beat Dawkins.
Beat is the son of the band’s lead singer. Charming, handsome, and not at all awkward in front of the cameras, Beat’s experience with fame was quite different from Melody’s. When he and Melody met as teenagers while the band was still together, Beat immediately felt very protective of Melody, especially when he saw how the media treated her so differently from the way they treated him. Beat thought they might become friends but instead, they lost touch after the band broke up. These days Beat finds himself dealing with one of the serious downsides of fame, someone with a secret about his mom’s past, is blackmailing him. Every time Beat thinks he’s done with the guy, he shows up again demanding more money. When Beat is approached about trying to reunite the band, he truly hopes the payout is enough to get the blackmailer off his back once and for all. Plus, there’s the added bonus of finally getting to see Melody again.
This book was such a fun ride! I loved that the premise of this reunion was done in the vein of a reality TV show, with both Beat and Melody mic’d up and followed by camera crews at all times. Trying to get these two rock divas to reunite was basically Mission Impossible for the two of them, but I loved every minute of the rom-com style shenanigans that took place. I also loved that it gave Melody and Beat a chance to get reacquainted as adults and finally explore the sparks that flew between them when they first met as teens. Tessa Bailey is the queen of the spicy rom-com so of course things heat up between these two and I was here for it and cheering them on.
If you’re looking to add a little spice to your holiday romance TBR, you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of Wreck the Halls. 4 STARS