Book Review: Holiday Swap
Confession time, I did not finish reading this book until after our book club meeting last week. I did, however, finish it before my Christmas vacation time officially began. If you are looking for a last-minute read for Christmas weekend, here you go. I don't know if it's available at your favorite bookstore, but you can purchase it for your digital reading device like Kindle pretty easily.
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Pros: This book is so squeaky clean I offered to let my young teen daughter read it. One or two curse words sprinkled throughout, but not predominate. A few passionate kisses, but nothing more. Plus it's a story about twins, which makes this twin heart happy.
Cons: One character alludes to a man being "good in the sack," but that's the sole instance of intimacy even being mentioned. A few curse words are sprinkled throughout. Characters talk about living together but are not married. The book also downplays the dangers of major concussions/traumatic brain injuries.
Charlie and Cass (proper names Charlotte and Cassandra) grew up twin daughters of pastry chefs who owned a bakery in the small town of Starlight Peaks. As young adults, the women go their own way. Charlie attends culinary school and finds herself on a reality baking show while Cass takes over the family bakery and pursues a relationship with her long-time boyfriend Brett.
But life doesn't go the way either twin anticipated.
Charlie is fighting to win the role as the sole host of a new baking show while her current co-host seeks to ruin her chances. And Cass realizes she's not in love with Brett anymore, but no matter how she tries to break it off with him, he won't take the hint.
When Charlie gets a concussion from an accident on set, she loses her sense of taste and smell, a disaster for her career. She calls Cass and begs her to swap places with her for the ten days leading up to Christmas. Cass, eager to put distance between herself and Brett, agrees.
But when does a twin swap ever go according to plan?
Cass and Charlie find their rhythms in the other's life, plus new love interests. But eventually, they must tell the truth of who they really are.
The book takes place in the small town of Starlight Peaks and the metropolis of Los Angeles. I've always been intrigued by large cities and as a teen wanted to live in one. (I still want to visit NYC.) Having grown up in a small town, the reality isn't as sweet as Hallmark and novels want you to believe.
Small businesses struggle against large corporations every day, as Cass and Charlie's struggle with the big chain Makewell depicts. And often small towns lack the resources to provide for their residents the way movies show. On the flip side, there's an intimacy to living in a small town, knowing everyone in your school, and having a history with the people and place.
The struggle to choose between the opportunity of Los Angeles and the comfort of a small town is real for many of us who grew up in those small towns.
My one major beef with the novel is its treatment of concussions. Both women experience traumatic brain injuries, which are glossed over. I know, it's just a fun book. In reality, concussions can have major lasting effects and should be taken seriously. Charlie is so consumed by her career that she knows she'll lose all her hard fought for ground if she takes time off for recovery, and she's not wrong. That's also a sign of what's wrong in our society that we can't take time to heal from injury without being punished.
Enough of that soap box.
After choosing a poor book for October, our book club wanted a sweet romance for December. Holiday Swap serves up the sweetness for sure. Overall, I enjoyed the read. It's well-written with some fun plot twists. There's not a lot of literary depth, but that's not what we were seeking. If you're looking for a sweet, quick read during the holidays, check out Holiday Swap.