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3 Stars / Contemporary / Review

Review: Eight Days of Christmas by Starla DeKruyf

Holiday magic? Check.

Swoon-worthy romance? Check.

Complications of epic proportions? Check.

Ready or not, Isabella Whitley is returning to her snowy hometown of Pineridge, Colorado for her sister’s Christmas wedding. She wants in and out unscathed. Unlikely. A decade ago, she headed to New York and hasn’t looked back. Now she must explain her disappearing act to not only her family, but the high-school sweetheart she left behind as well.

Enter Leo Hoffman. He’s frosty after striving—and failing—to forget Isabella, the only woman capable of jingling his bells. Since his brother is marrying her sister, Leo is forced to celebrate Eight Days of Christmas with Isabella and her family—a tradition where they perform a different holiday activity each day leading up to December 25th.

Soon, their close proximity brings back memories—and the inability to keep their hands off one another. There’s only one problem. Isabella’s ex unexpectedly enters the equation, and she faces a difficult choice. Listen to her heart or her head? Isabella will need to decide, once and for all, where she belongs.

Title:Eight Days of Christmas
Author:Starla DeKruyf
Series:Pineridge (Book 1)
Pages:308
Category / Genre(s):Contemporary
Trope(s):Christmas Romance
Second Chance Romance
Small-Town Romance
Point of View:
Location:Pineridge, US
HEA:✔️
Release Date:19th October, 2021
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I didn’t fall in love with it

3 stars

This book was my first introduction to Starla DeKruyf but who can resist a Christmassy romcom with a cute premise and such an adorable cover?

I got stuck into the story immediately as we meet Isabella as she returns home for her sister’s wedding. Or so she thinks. Soon there’s a snow storm, her flight is diverted and there’s just a single rental car… and her ex-boyfriend and first love is holding the keys. I was positively giddy with this tropey turn of events.

I was all in – until Leo (said ex), fairly early on, made a rather nasty remark about Izzy. Nothing misogynistic, but I just wasn’t there for that. That seemed quite prominent for at least the first wee while in the story. Leo’s level of dislike and bitterness towards Izzy seemed nasty and, well, a bit OTT for all the time that had passed and all the life events that had happened since the pair broke up. I’m there for a hero that never gets over the heroine, but the emotions felt a little juvenile for me.

I think part of the reason that I wasn’t connecting with the characters – or at least Leo – was due in part to the quality of the writing. It was very well written and I was drawn in to this world and these characters. Some of the word choices, especially in the way the characters talked to each other, were almost too descriptive. “She sneered”. “He smirked.” It just didn’t sit well with me.

“…I can totally see this being made into a Christmas movie and … I would watch the hell out of it.”

Coupled with that, the way that Izzy’s family treated her just felt mean. Yes, she hadn’t been home for Christmas in about 10 years. And yes, they were hurt with that fact. But even the “good natured” ribbing felt uncomfortable and I was over it fairly quickly. It didn’t endear me to the other members of the family.

I’ll try to be less grumpy now… As I said, I loved the premise of the story and it was a cute way to have our hero and heroine interact. It also felt real – I could definitely see this kind of family event happening in real life. In fact, I might try it with my own family. Even the reason behind Izzy’s break up with Leo and her subsequent departure from her home town was understandable and believable – if still irritating!

With the exceptional writing and cute premise, I can totally see this being made into a Christmas movie and I’m not going to lie – I would watch the hell out of it. On screen, without the “he sneered” etc, I feel I would have a much better appreciation for the characters I failed to fall in love with from reading the book.

This was a likeable book but, as I said, I just didn’t fall in love with it. The writing was fab and I would have no hesitation about picking up another book by Ms DeKruyf. This one wasn’t really for me but I see that I am definitely in the minority. So give this book a go – it’s a Christmas romance – I really hope you love it. But just 3 stars from me.

3 stars

* I received this book in exchange for my honest review *

Starla DeKruyf started writing when she still had words left to say and everyone stopped listening. Her love of romance novels began when she borrowed her friend’s copy of Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume and kept it hidden from her mom. When she’s not slinging coffee, volunteering with youth, or taxiing her kids around, you can find her jamming out to her playlists and writing her next swoony romance, usually by hand. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, three children, their English Mastiff, and a rescue pup.

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