When I read the synopsis for The Holiday Trap, I knew I had to read it. Even though I’ve seen The Holiday only once, and possibly not all the way through, the movie still gives me those Christmas-time vibes. And this book is basically a modern, LGBTQ+ twist on the classic movie.
Greta and Truman both need to get out of town for a while and shake up their lives. Greta and Truman both know the meddling, witchy Ramona, who proposes they swap houses for the holiday season. So, Greta goes down to New Orleans and Truman heads to Maine, both in search of “anywhere but here.” Naturally, they discover there are possibilities beyond what they imagined for themselves in their old lives — including the possibility of love.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the digital review copy of this title. Now, let’s get into the review.
What I Liked
I love the house swap premise, which somehow feels far-fetched and also strangely plausible in these AirBnb times. I’m also not super familiar with small town Maine or New Orleans, so I liked reading about these settings through the eyes of visitors.
Truman and Ash’s story warmed my heart in so many ways. The plants. The vulnerability. Truman’s awkward tendency to say too much when he’s nervous. I definitely got drawn in to their story and felt excited any time a chapter featured them.
The found family aspect of Greta’s story is great. I liked watching her come to terms with the fact that she needs a bit of space from her biological family, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she has to go scortched earth on them. Seeing her thrive amidst people who have more in common with her than just DNA was definitely the main appeal of her story for me.
Both characters had some good personal growth that helped them gain more confidence and awareness about themselves, which I appreciate.
What I Didn’t Like
If you couldn’t tell from the above, I wasn’t sold on the romance element of Greta’s story. Carys as a character does not feel like a real person to me, but a caricature. There was also something sort of ominous about the relationship to me, and I didn’t care for the way Carys spoke to Greta sometimes. Because of this, Greta’s chapters felt like a slog to me. I honestly was kind of rooting for them to break up, which isn’t what you want in a romance.
I also felt like the marketing of this one as a holiday rom-com only really fits if you take “holiday” to mean “vacation” and not wintery holidays like I imagined. Yes, this takes place around the Hannukah and Christmas season, and this does play a small part in the story, but it isn’t as central as the title and release date of this book would lead you to believe. Not really a flaw in the book so much as in my expectations.
In all, this was a heartwarming story about two people who needed a change and found themselves by shaking up their routines. It didn’t quite deliver on the winter holiday vibes I was hoping for, but it’s worth a read regardless.
I recommend The Holiday Trap to fans of the movie The Holiday or the house-swap trope in general. It’s also a great read for folks who enjoy stories about found family and personal growth, with a dash of small town vibes in the mix for good measure.
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