This story was such a delightful surprise! It was not at all what I expected, it was so much MORE, so emotional, melancholic and gripping! Reading the blurb, I imagined that it would be a light and sweet Christmas romance, but Holidays in Blue was very far from that. It was a story about grief, about how to survive the aftermath of lifechanging tragedies and about daring to love again after failed relationships.
Cosmin Tessler is a forty-plus semi-famous radio show host. Intellectual and sophisticated, but lonely. Eric Campell is quite the opposite. A ten years younger bisexual actor, whose marriage to a woman failed brutally and whose actor jobs are drying up. When Cosmin’s radio show is cancelled and Eric’s life has hit rock bottom, they both return to their old childhood homes next to each other. When a massive ice storm hits the city, they end up stranded together and unexpectedly back in each other’s lives again, for Christmas. Despite their difference in age, their long-ago crush and undeniable attraction prove too much to resist…
But the romance part is only one sub plot in this book. The other sub plot, and the one I loved most, was Cosmin’s journey into the past when going through the boxes his recently deceased father had left in the house. Some previous tragedies had left Cosmin and his father on different paths, never quite repairing their relationship. But finding his father’s note books, Cosmin discovered how much his father had loved him but failed to tell or show him when he was alive. He could finally understand the situation behind his own adoption from an orphanage in Romania and see the joy he had brought his adoptive parents who’d been plagued by sadness until then.
There were some truly amazing character developments in this book and I really enjoyed the backstory with the adoption of Cosmin and his sister and the way the family tragedy was described. It was also so emotional and sad to learn how Cosmin and his father had lost each other due to bad communication skills in the aftermath of pain and suffering. This book dealt with a lot of heavy issues, such as grief, loss, anorexia, infidelity, alcoholic problems and denial, in a raw and realistic way. But it was nevertheless a hopeful and encouraging story, showing how we can all find new meanings in life and new people to love. It is never too late, if we just put ourselves out there.
The minor complaints I have are that the pacing was a bit slow at times and that the romance didn’t resonate with me as much as I had hoped for. At times, Cosmin came across as quite pretentious and as if he was trying to make others feel dumb. His attraction to the younger, not so intellectual, Eric therefore didn’t feel a hundred percent believable. I never felt any deep emotions from Cosmin that would have made me understand what he saw in Eric other than that he was young and attractive. And for Eric, for most parts of the book, it only felt as if he getting a chance to live out his childhood fantasies about the older boy next door, not as if he was really in love with the Cosmin of today, but rather with the image of Cosmin in his dreams.
But I immediately rooted so for Eric, and if Cosmin was who he wanted, then I do not want to stay in the way… Eric truly was a sweetheart, so kind and messed up and gorgeous he just melted my heart.
So, all in all, this was a gripping, cathartic and bittersweet book dealing with important issues, that I highly recommend. And, even though the story takes place during Christmas, it’s not a typical Christmas read, but deserves to be read any time of the year!
Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin/Carina Press for the ebook copy and the opportunity to read this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review!
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abby Kaitz Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alice Winn Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira Amanda Woody A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Ban Gilmartin Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cait Nary Cale Dietrich Cara Dee Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare Cat Sebastian C.F. White C.G. Drews Charlie Adhara Charli Meadows Chasten Buttigieg Chris Bedell Christina Lauren Christina Lee Ciara Smyth Claerie Kavanaugh Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Courtney Kae Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Dallas Smith Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton D.N. Bryn Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E.L. Massey E. Lockhart Emery Lee Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens F.T. Lukens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hannah Grace Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving H.S. Valley Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacob Gelman Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson James L. Sutter Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jen Bailey Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kathy Anderson K.A. Tucker KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Lauren Shippen Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Lex Croucher Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr M.A. Wardell Melanie Munton Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nathaniel Shea Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Nyla K. Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rachel Reid Racquel Marie Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Taylor Jenkins Reid Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Tracy Deonn Tucker Shaw Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez