Holiday Romance (Fitzpatrick Christmas #1), by Catherine Walsh

Holiday Romance by Catherine Walsh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

2023 was… not a good year. Not even reading-wise. So, as one of the last books in 2023 I wanted to read something holiday’ish, funny and emotional.

Thankfully, this novel worked out very well: Andrew and Molly are kind, empathetic and relatable people…

»“I’m honestly okay.” Only now that I’ve opened the floodgates, hell if I know how to close them again. Oh God, did I break something inside? Is this just who I am now?
I’m going to be so dehydrated.

Both have been flying home for Christmas for nine consecutive years and although they predictably became friends soon, things have been shifting between them. Now, on their tenth journey together, pretty much everything goes wrong.

Yes, it’s all very predictable but the chemistry between Molly and Andrew is a formula for success and their banter – both in the present and in the interspersed flashbacks to earlier years – is both heartfelt and, very often, hilarious. At times, I actually laughed out loud (something I rarely ever do while reading).

I found myself hoping the author and her heroes wouldn’t mess up – and they didn’t: Yes, there’s a kind of “shock moment” (not a third-act breakup, though) shortly before the end but it’s plausible and intelligently handled.

I also really enjoyed that once both Molly and Andrew come to understand their respective feelings and challenges, they actually talk to each other. Miscommunication can be so annoying and here, a lot of that is avoided:

»Andrew frowns, draping the towel against the back of a chair. “What’s up?”
“I want to decide what this is before Christmas,” I say. “I don’t want to wait until we get back to Chicago. That’s too long. You said you’re not going anywhere, but I need to know where we stand or I’ll just go crazy.” I pause, sliding my hands down my thighs. “Does that make sense?”
“Of course it does.”

Of course, not everything is perfect: The protagonists each struggle with a few problems, which the author isn’t always capable of addressing with the desirable sensitivity.

The holiday atmosphere was wonderfully consistent and I read a lot of this book in an extremely comfortable armchair, between the illuminated Christmas tree and a quietly spinning Christmas pyramid, next to my wife of 24 years (minus one day at the time of writing).

»I could get used to this.
Going to bed with him, waking up with him, repeating it over and over again until it stops being special. Until I can take him for granted.
Not in that bad way, but a comfortable one. Knowing that he’ll be there. Just like he’s always been.

After having done just that for more than 8700 nights, I know what Molly means and here’s to hoping for more of the same!

Four stars out of five.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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