‘Tis the season for holiday stories!!! Honestly, I’m a firm believer in stories dedicated to all of the holidays in the calendar… but there’s nothing like the burst of festive storytelling that happens this time of year. Thanks to the lovely people at Entangled, WRITE BEFORE CHRISTMAS by new-to-me-author Julie Hammerle was the start to my Christmas holiday reading.
Author: Julie Hammerle
Release Date: November 30, 2020
Review Copy: NetGalley ARC
You’ve probably heard of me.
Reclusive fantasy author turned famous when his series got developed into a mega TV hit.
Except now I’m way behind deadline, and the whole world is waiting to see what I’ll write next.
The pressure is getting to me, and I. Can’t. Write.
Cue: small town where people don’t recognize me.
Cue: my assistant insisting on a personal chef to keep me fed and nothing more.
Cue: finding the first bit of inspiration I’ve felt in months whenever she’s around…
Am I a walking cliche now, or what?
Dani Cooper seems to have her own hurdles to jump this holiday season. Newly divorced, looking for her next move. She’s the first person who’s seen me for me in way too long. And I see her, too–as way more than just an employee, a divorcee, a cook. She’s becoming my muse…
But when my Christmas deadline hits, will it spell the end of us, too?
I honestly didn’t have a lot of expectation going into this. I like stories about authors, I like holiday stories, I like cute romances. I’m a fan of Entangled, as a publisher, and know that I’m very likely to enjoy whatever they put out. But, not having read this author before… I didn’t have a lot of pre-conceived ideas about what to expect.
What I Loved:
This ended up being everything I love in a story (holiday, or otherwise). Characters with personality and depth. Interactions that seem natural and relatable. There were times that things came up that I’ve seen used as conflict plot points in other stories (that I REALLY don’t like), and I would start to get worried… but Julie eased through them, setting things right, and kept the story moving along just fine. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any conflict… it happened… but it wasn’t overdrawn and over dramatic. I appreciated that so much, especially because this is a shorter story, and I was in the mood for something lighthearted and fun. That’s exactly what I got.
Dani and Matt really were fun to get to know, and fun to watch as they got together. The straightforwardness of their “relationship” was awesome. They knew where they stood with each other, and even though there were the natural, human hesitations and mistakes… they made it work. Dani’s cluelessness about pop culture was just the right amount of endearing. With a longer story, it might have been too much, but here, it was funny and definitely worked for the story. I also really had fun with the rest of the family and friends in the story. Una was a joy, and Kelsie was hilarious. Jane took a little warming up to, but I think I’m really going to like her a lot. (I’m hoping that she’ll be the focus of the next book, because there is definitely some untold story THERE at the end, lol!!)
As a friend and fan of quite a few authors, I could SO sympathize with Matt’s struggle. And I was THRILLED with how things worked out for him. I’ve seen situations similar to that happen, and things aren’t always as nicely handled. Thank goodness for fiction. ❤
What I Didn’t Love:
Honestly, there wasn’t much. 🙂 I wasn’t thrilled that Matt’s very first interaction with Dany involved a comment about her boobs. Although, I would imagine that’s probably not unrealistic. Thankfully, he’s not a jerk at all… but it did worry me when we started out with that comment. I also didn’t love how quickly Jane dialed her phone at the restaurant (you’ll see…). Thankfully, it ended up being one of the author’s fantastic dealings with what could have been a horribly overdrawn plot point. It worked out for the story, but I was still giving Jane side-eye for the next few pages.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and I’m definitely going to be watching for more. This is a standalone right now, but I’m hoping it’ll be the start of a series. (ahem… Jane’s book?) I think the length was great, and the rounding out of the characters was really well done. I like that this was done at holiday time, so we got that extra dose of “feel good”, but really, it could have been any time. This wasn’t one of those stories that wouldn’t work outside of it’s original time/place, I suppose that could be a pro or a con, depending on what you’re looking for, lol. Again — I liked it a lot, and I’m excited to see what’s next from Julie.