A Holly Jolly Ever After
Published: October 10th 2023 by Avon Books
Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Genres: Adult // Contemporary Romance, Festive, Spicy
Quick Thoughts: With hilarious banter, a magnificent cast of voices that I could picture so vividly, and a sexy storyline hot enough to melt the winter snow, it was the greatest gift of all.
I purchased this book myself and will give it a fair and unbiased review. There was no obligation to post/give this book a certain rating. I remain entirely impartial.
About This Book:
Kallum Liebermanis the funny one™. As the arguably lesser of the three former members of the boy band INK, he enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame and then moved home where he opened a regional pizza chain called Slice, Slice, Baby! He’s living his best dad bod life, hooking up with bridesmaids at all his friends’ weddings. But after an old one-off sex tape is leaked and quickly goes viral, Kallum decides he’s ready to step into the spotlight again, starring in a sexy Santa biopic for the Hope Channel.
Winnie Baker did everything right. She married her childhood sweetheart, avoided the downfalls of adolescent stardom, and transitioned into a stable adult acting career. Hell, she even waited until marriage to have sex. But after her perfect life falls apart, Winnie is ready to redefine herself—and what better way than a steamier-than-a-steaming-hot-mug-of-cider Christmas movie?
With decade old Hollywood history between them, Winnie and Kallum are both feeling hesitant about their new situation as costars…especially Winnie who can’t seem to fake on screen pleasure she’s never experienced in real life. She’s willing to do the pleasure research—for science and artistic authenticity, of course. And there’s no better research partner than her bridesmaid sex tape hall of fame costar, Kallum. But suddenly, Kallum’s teenage crush on Winnie is bubbling to the surface and Winnie might be catching feelings herself.
They say opposites attract, but is this holly jolly ever after really ready for its close-up?
After finishing (and adoring) A Merry Little Meet Cute last year, it was no surprise that I’d be first in line for the sequel. Just one of the amazing things about Julie and Sierra’s stories is that they are super inclusive and body positive, so it was refreshing to read about body types like my own and my friends in Christmas Notch.
Kallum knows he’s got a reputation for being just “the funny one”, the one who jumps from bridesmaid-to-bridesmaid hook-ups rather than serious relationships, but underneath that former-boy-bander (one third of the highly successful INK) is a heart of pure gold. He has serious golden retriever energy and takes care of his nearest and dearest whilst juggling a pizza business called Slice, Slice, Baby. But when his sex tape takes off and that leads him to accept a fully-fledged acting job opposite his teenage crush and former child-star-turned-Celebrity Winnie Baker in a spicy, Santa movie for the Hope Channel, it’s a challenge unlike any other he’s faced. Winnie Baker left her good girl past, purity culture, and husband behind not long ago. After being cheated on and living underneath the thumb of her controlling parents, she knew it was time to spread her wings and fly—and straight into Christmas Notch to rid that good-girl image even faster in her new role opposite Kallum.
Although the two shared an unfortunate blimp in the past, they’re quick to clean the slate and become fast friends through co-work. But whilst Kallum is a sex expert and nails every scene when they’re supposed to be intimate, Winnie falls flat with her lack of personal experience and falling out of touch with her body. So when she falls into a lull of getting Kallum to be her teacher, what should be a very bad idea for co-workers spirals into a connection neither of them anticipated. Only, with the end of the movie looming and their separate lives in difference states a distinct reminder of the distance between them—and their personalities—Winnie and Kallum aren’t sure there’s a happy ever after for them. But where there’s a Christmas wish, there’s a way, and some people end up right where they’re supposed to.
Overall, A Holly Jolly Ever After was everything I could’ve wished for and more. With hilarious banter, a magnificent cast of voices that I could picture so vividly, and a sexy storyline hot enough to melt the winter snow, it was the greatest gift of all. Julie and Sierra have this magical touch when their writing comes together, and I’m no longer surprised at how much I adore book after book. It was lovely to see flickers of old faces, especially Bee and Nolan. The character development shown by Winnie and Kallum was *chef’s kiss* – I loved how they grew apart to grow back together, and how this lets readers (and romance lovers) see the fundamentals that come into being the best partner to someone only after you are a good person to yourself, first. I hate that some readers dislike the one trope in this book toward the end because I, for one, loved it. It made sense, and was executed perfectly. There was not a flaw in sight. Another five star read from the Christmas Queens themselves. Sign me up for Christmas Notch #3!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments or via social media to keep the conversation going.