THE HOLIDAY SWAP
Written by Maggie Knox
Published by Viking, October 5th, 2021
My star rating – 5 stars!
All they want for Christmas is a different life.
When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell–both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over.
With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?
For many years now I’ve read a Christmas book in December. So that means a ton of sappy romantic comedies filled with mishaps, drama, tinsel and kisses. And this one is BY FAR my favourite of them all! This book has literally everything i’ve ever wanted in a rom-com – baking, a holiday themed baking show, small town vibes, dogs, twin swapping, and loads of unexpected romance!!! I sold you right there didn’t I??
Our first twin sister is Charlie. She’s a trained pastry chef who is talented beyond belief. She’s able to pick out flavours when no one else can, she can pair flavours that are completely unexpected, and she’s a natural behind the camera. All of that combined with her confidence and determination is making her a breakaway star in the food TV world. She has two problems though: 1 – her co-host is an epic ass who tries to constantly undermine and upstage her. 2 – she has an accident on the set of the show which results in a concussion and leaves her with the inability to taste or smell, which are the two key senses needed to host the show! In order to keep her job, and her chances open to host the next big baking show, she asks her identical twin sister to switch places with her.
Our second twin sister is Cass – the understated and equally talented second half of this equation. Instead of going on to be professionally trained like her sister, Cass is self taught and helps her parents run their hometown bakery. This bakery is well known within the area as being traditional and comforting. Everyone knows and loves them, especially around the holidays when they give out a loaf of their famous sourdough bread to every household at the annual Christmas eve party. Cass is basically me in a book – loves pets, needs to be in a small town surrounded by friends and family, is soft and sweet, and thrives on normalcy and tradition.
Since both the sisters have a love and talent for baking, switching lives should have been easy. Of course, if it were easy, it would be a very boring book lol. If it could go wrong, it does. But at the same time they learned SO much about themselves! Charlie, who is typically the outgoing city girl and thrives being in front of a camera, is suddenly reminded of what it’s like to be home and living a quieter and more relaxing life. Cass, who is the quiet one and thrives on structure and routine, was suddenly forced to think outside the box, experiment, and stand up for herself. Their journey though out this swap was SOOOO good! It was well written and full of PERFECT balance! When characters are forced into a different life I feel like the author makes them forget who they were to start off with in an effort to transform them. This wasn’t the case. These girls changed, of course, but they never forgot who they were. They added to their personalities instead. The adapted and grew, but never changed to the point where they were unrecognizable. They were still the same people in the end but more grounded, balanced, and happy. The character development in this book was absolutely glorious!
And the romance…. swoon! Both girls knew they were only swapping lives for a few days so what’s the point in feeling sparks for the cute guy they just met? They both tried to stay away and ignore it, ultimately not being able to resist their charm. It was probably a little overly sweet and soon but I don’t care because I loved the romance anyway! And knowing the whole time that the sisters were eventually going to have to tell them that they were the other sister? That just added a whole new level of anticipation!
If you like Hallmark holiday movies, then you really need this in your life! The romance will melt your heart, the baking will make you hungry, the small town vibes will make you love your neighbour, the friends and family will make you want to give everyone a hug, and the growth and confidence in these characters will make you feel stronger than you did yesterday! I will absolutely be reading this every single December for the foreseeable future!!!
Until next time, happy reading!