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One Day to Forever #1

A Wedding One Christmas

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Of all the weddings in all the world, Angie Roux had to be mistaken for a bridesmaid in this one.

Caledon, South Africa, is supposed to be just a stop on the way to Christmas in Cape Town, part of Angie’s long-avoided homecoming. She never expected to star in a bizarre comedy of errors, but here she is: convincing a handsome stranger to be her fake boyfriend for the day.

Ezra Johnson, the handsome stranger in question, turns out to be a pleasant distraction from both the wedding and thoughts of her first family Christmas without her father. And he seems to loathe weddings just as much as she does. He’s the perfect temporary companion.

But a lot can happen in twenty-four hours. Including a connection so strong it tempts them both into thinking of something more permanent…

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise : all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

This book is approximately 70,000 words

223 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 19, 2018

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About the author

Therese Beharrie

110 books274 followers
Therese Beharrie is a South African romance author of several acclaimed novels, including her One Day to Forever series. She takes pride in writing diverse characters and settings, and her books are often recommended for their heart and banter. She lives in Cape Town with her husband, her inspiration for every hero, and two adorable baby boys. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook or visit her at theresebeharrie.com.

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5 stars
24 (14%)
4 stars
55 (33%)
3 stars
55 (33%)
2 stars
18 (10%)
1 star
12 (7%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 74 reviews
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 57 books7,882 followers
January 20, 2019
This is my second Therese Beharrie book this weekend and I'm about to go buy another one. This should be a helpful indication.

A very emotional romance that takes place over 24 hours. The conflict is mostly in the protags' internal issues--both of them are burned by other people and thus isolated and untrusting, which makes it kind of awkward that they pretty much fall for one another on sight. This is not instalove the easy way: it's two people who can't cope with the emotions they already have being unexpectedly swamped by a whole new set. Introspective without being angsty or broody, some wonderful sparkly dialogue, a heroine who manages to be strong despite being a bit of a mess and a lovely atmospheric South African small town feel. Fab.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,978 reviews3,297 followers
January 10, 2023
UPDATE: New guidance from the Harper Collins Union that Harlequin and their imprints are NOT included in the ongoing strike. So here's my review...

Video: https://youtu.be/dxikqU6Lg4M

A Wedding One Christmas is a romance that takes place mostly over the course of a single day, set in South Africa around Christmas. The heroine is mistaken for a bridesmaid because her dress looks similar and a series of events throw her together with a man who must come to terms with his past. This was fun and festive, a different take on a holiday novel. Personally though I do prefer stories that take place over a longer period of time OR establish some kind of pre-existing relationship for the couple. This is so fast I struggled to fully connect or buy the depth of their relationship. While I liked other elements, this was middle of the road for me. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Talia Hibbert.
Author 33 books27.8k followers
November 28, 2018
I loved this book! So perfect for the festive season with its themes of family and homecoming, and so deeply emotional. I loved the whole set-up, but I don't want to describe it too much in case it counts as a spoiler. Basically, if you like road trip, holiday or small town romances, I feel like you'll enjoy this one, too. Even though it's not precisely any of those, it's kind of somehow all of those? Except not. And, as you might've guessed, it's at a wedding... kind of. This book is pretty wild, to be honest. It's difficult to describe because everything's unexpected. The characters are wonderfully suited, fully-realised and deeply sympathetic. The banter is constant and snarky and sexy. As always, despite the lack of open-door sex scenes I found the whole thing super hot. READ IT, is what I'm saying here.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,127 reviews261 followers
October 19, 2018
A Wedding One Christmas is a quirky series of outrageously funny events thrust upon Angie and Ezra both heading home with baggage in tow.

Angie is returning home for the first time in years and since her father’s death.

Ezra is teacher, returning after a failed 7-year relations.

Their chance meeting ignites deep self-reflection the subsequent realization that both have carried emotional scars for years without truly dealing with the circumstances and facing life.

It’s a story of person growth surrounded by humor and chemistry that just can’t be denied.

A Wedding One Christmas was 3.5 star read for me. I appreciated the strong balance of humor while dealing with the emotions. For me, I appreciate less internal and verbal dialog that leans toward sitting in with a counselor and more of the personality and wit that truly creates the emotional bond.

I received this copy of A Wedding One Christmas from HARLEQUIN - Carina Press. This is my honest and voluntary review.

My Rating: 3.5 stars
written by: Therese Beharrie
Print Length: 223 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 19, 2018
Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wedding-One-Ch...
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-we...
Profile Image for Lara Kareem.
Author 4 books92 followers
November 1, 2018

First and foremost. I had an inkling that there was something off about this book.

"What were the chances she'd slide into a booth opposite a man who looks like he'd jumped straight out of her fantasies?

Smooth brown skin stretched over the angular features of his face."

So why am I seeing a white man on the cover? I'm not even being offensive but the male character read like a white man, so it makes sense if it hadn't been stated that he had smooth brown skin.

In my most honest opinion, it's as if the book was first written in a non-African nation before the author decided, why not change it to South-Africa, it's Africa but we can work it, because basically a few names of places where mentioned but nothing substantial enough to give me that feeling that it was South-Africa, and then I mean come on, not a single South-African name was in this book, all the names where English, where's the authenticity there? *Disclaimer I have never been to South-Africa so I don't know if I'm just being prickly.*

I was interested in this novel because I am a romance junkie. But this novel is such a slow burn and I felt it dragging in a lot of instances, a lot of instances that I felt were unnecessary because the pacing became too slow and the conversations dragging because a great amount of time was spent on detailing scenes that didn't have to be that long.

Despite all these issues, I found myself laughing at the female main character Angie's antics and all the cute moments but she and Ezra the main male character shared. I saw and felt the genuine feelings they shared for each other. Which was what made this book enjoyable, but honestly, this book still needs some serious adjustments.

Profile Image for Bree Hill.
772 reviews575 followers
December 18, 2020
A Wedding One Christmas was my first read by Therese Beharrie and won't be my last, for sure. I discovered her this fall while browsing through the different Harlequin lines on their website and seen that she has quite a few titles under the Harlequin Romance line and I have a couple Kimani romances titled by her as well. I get very excited when I discover a new to me woman of color author writing for Harelquin, so I was so happy when their publicity team sent me A Wedding One Christmas by her.

This story takes place over the course of one day and is set in South Africa. Hello, location I've yet to read a book set in! I think setting a book that is over 200 pages in one day is a bold move, and I'd imagine hard to pull off. This is the romance between Angie and Ezra who meet after Angie coincidentally stops at a location she used to visit with her family prior to her father's passing away and is dressed basically identical to the bridesmaids at the location for a wedding. She is constantly being mistaken for a bridesmaid, stops in a cafe and asks Ezra if she can sit with him and if he can go along and pretend that they are together.

What made this book work for me is that you don't focus so much on the 'time' element because we spend a lot of time in the minds of the characters. We see them, in the words of my sister, 'making it make sense,' all their internal stuff! If you are an internal conflict person, this book delivers on that! Both Angie and Ezra have their 'stuff,' and we spend a lot of time witnessing the tug of war, back and forth that comes along with their attempts to rationalize this 'stuff.'

At the core of this story is that on a random day, two people who have been battling their own 'stuff,' wind up at the same place and sitting apart from one another at a cafe. I think a 'fake couple' storyline lends itself perfectly to the story because it causes these two random people to spend a lot of time together which of course leads to conversation and them getting to know more about one another. Then there is the worry about 'time.' We've only just met, but I'm getting feelings and this doesn't make sense! But it's like, how do you deal with yourself tomorrow, after having walked away, and it hits you that you just walked away from your person?

It's chatty and the chatter can make it feel slightly like the story is dragging but it's one of those situations where I encourage you to just hold on! The author makes it make sense in the end.
Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,165 followers
December 8, 2020
In the hands of a lesser author, this would not have been nearly so enjoyable but Therese Beharrie has the ability to make me fall hard for her characters, no matter what situations she puts them in. The premise of this series is the relationship happens over the course of 24 hours and Angie and Ezra go through a lot. Fake relationship at a stranger’s wedding? Getting roped into playing Father Christmas and his wife for a holiday float in a parade? Ad-lib nativity play? They all happen and yet it never felt over the top or unbelievable. Their connection was so real and yet it didn’t negate the issues they were each working through. Falling for someone after knowing them for a day may feel outlandish, especially because neither Angie nor Ezra feel they’re in the place to start a relationship, so the trick is whether they believe there’s enough there to give it a chance. I was riveted through the ups and downs.

Angie is dealing with major complicated grief so I would be careful if grief or loss is a trigger for you. Her father died of a brain tumor three years ago and she cannot say the words “he died.” She won’t even let herself think them, although she knows it’s true. Angie’s family dynamic was codependent and rather become responsible for her mother after he died, she ran. And because she’s never seen what a healthy partnership looks like, she’s afraid of relationships and turning into her mother. Ezra, on the other hand, is nine months out of a seven year long relationship that ended when he proposed. He had a hard time seeing things clearly in that relationship and now he’s afraid to see how disappointed his family is in him. Since both Angie and Ezra are headed to Cape Town to be with their families for Christmas, they’re not really in a rush to go home and take solace in the time together, as much as they question what’s really happening.

I found their character arcs to be satisfying, although I wish therapy (or at least plans to start) would have been included. Neither Angie nor Ezra needed to suffer for as long as they did and they’re likely to make some of the same mistakes if they don’t process what happened before. Regardless, this turned out to be such a charming, fun, and emotionally layered read. Also, Ezra wins when it comes to meaningful gifts: he had Angie’s first romance manuscript bound and gave it to her at Christmas.

FYI, I’m marking this as a closed door romance but no sex happens. However, there is light foreplay so the “chaste” shelf isn’t appropriate.

Character notes: Angie has been teaching English in Korea for the past 3 years and wants to be a romance writer. Ezra is a 31 year old women’s studies professor. They both have brown skin but it is not clear whether they identify as Black or coloured (a South African ethnic group classification). This is set in Caledon, South Africa.

CW: heroine’s father died from a brain tumor 3 years ago, complicated grief, codependency, minor pregnant character, pregnancy epilogue, discussions of their mother’s pregnancies (including hero’s grandparents kicking out his mother when she became pregnant as a teen), joke about gonorrhea, ableist language
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,204 reviews188 followers
December 15, 2019
Angie is heading home to Cape Town for the first Christmas since her father’s death. She’s not only sad about missing her father, but she’s carrying a lot of guilt for not being there for her mother and sisters after his passing. On a small town stop she happens to meet Ezra in a diner, and through a series of bizarre and totally avoidable misunderstandings, they end up spending the day together...and maybe falling for each other. This one is long on deep, emotional conversations--all the baggage will be unpacked--so if you’re not in the mood to dig into the feels, keep moving.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,119 reviews1,334 followers
October 13, 2018

Utterly charming! A Wedding One Christmas is only my second book penned by Therese Beharrie, but she is fast becoming an auto-read author for me. I adored reading this book as it was one that had me cheering for the couple to find their happily-ever-afters.

The strongest element in A Wedding One Christmas was undeniably the characterization of both Angie and Ezra. They were both beautifully fleshed-out characters who popped to life throughout the book. Angie is on her way back home for the first time since her beloved father passed away and Ezra is doing the same after breaking off a long-term relationship. On their way home, they stop at a wedding location where they encounter each other when Angie seeks Ezra's help to flee the wedding party since they are under the misconception that she is a bridesmaid. I really enjoyed getting to know both Angie and Ezra. They were such lovely people who were dealing with a little bit of baggage. What really stood out to me throughout this book was how genuine and raw every emotion of theirs felt. A lot of the self-doubt that they felt rang true to me. If I'm being honest, I saw a lot of myself in parts of Angie and Ezra.

I knew the moment that these two met each other that they were meant to be. Therese Beharrie solidified that feeling for me as the two engaged in deep conversations. This book is 90% of the couple actually talking and I can't tell you guys how much that meant to me. I love it when couples talk their ears off because it's a way to grow a comfort level and to get to know each other. With a book like this, where the relationship develops over 24 hours, it made sense that they would talk so much. The conversations they had gave them the nudge to start healing. It wasn't always all serious. There was some excellent banter between Angie and Ezra that only made the chemistry between them sizzle more. I was just impressed by how the romance never even felt like insta-love despite the short timeline of it. I also really loved the wedding setting. It provided humor and lightness to this story.

A Wedding One Christmas was a special read that gave me warm and fuzzy feelings. Who doesn't love a book like that? Be sure to give this one a try this Christmas!

Profile Image for Lauren (The Novel Lush).
159 reviews472 followers
December 6, 2018
I had a really hard time getting through this book. The constant introspection and at-length discussions between the characters made the pacing drag. Also, Ezra is described as brown skinned when they meet, but there's a white male on the cover? I know authors don't choose their covers a lot of time, but that's a pretty big discrepancy.
Profile Image for SuperWendy.
908 reviews240 followers
October 21, 2022
I'm 20% in and bored. We're still in the Mistaken Bridesmaid nonsense and the hero and heroine are bantering in circles. I feel like I should care by this point, I don't, so I'm tapping out.
Profile Image for Caitlyn Lynch.
Author 43 books1,826 followers
November 21, 2018
I’m actually going to start this review by starting about reading diversely, and how we all should be doing it. And by that, I mean that you don’t necessarily have to read out of your comfort zone. If you read light and fluffy romance and you get the cold shakes at reading something deep and painful and meaningful, you don’t have to go read The Color Purple or The Hate U Give just to read books by diverse authors. It’s okay. Trust me. You’re still covered.

And if contemporary romance featuring real characters with exactly the same kind of personality flaws and personal life challenges as you and people just like you face is your jam, but those people just happen to be Black, then you should absolutely be reading Therese Beharrie.

Angie hasn’t dealt with the death of her father three years ago. Taking off immediately for a job teaching English in Korea, she’s delayed her return to Cape Town and her dependent, needy mother and younger sisters long enough. Taking that last step is proving a difficult one, though, so making one last stop in the town where she has a great many memories is just another way to put off the inevitable. Stumbling into the middle of a wedding and immediately being mistaken for one of the bridal party? Not something she’s ready to deal with.

Enter Ezra, apparently the only man in town NOT there for the wedding. He’s gentleman enough to answer Angie’s hopeful plea for a rescue from wedding hell, but he’s got his own demons… and his own reasons for being in Caledon on that precise day.

The two of them strike sparks straight away. Angie challenges Ezra, doesn’t let him get away with any assumptions, and in return refuses to let her continue to hide from what she’s been avoiding facing for too long. Together, they have a fun, incredible day, ranging from taking part in a Christmas parade to a hilarious ad-lib Nativity play, ending with some passionate but not quite complete encounters, and a morning after where both of them have to look deep into their own hearts and find the courage to take the next step.

There was only one thing that set my teeth on edge in this book - well, two, but they were part of the same issue. Ezra is a lecturer in Women’s Studies, and though I freely admit I know nothing about the field, a man in that job seems like the literal pinnacle of mansplaining, and considering Angie called him on mansplaining other things, I was a bit surprised she didn’t make that jab. It seemed it would have been in character for her to do that. At least she tore him a new one on the other issue I had, his contempt for those who read and write romance novels, and surely if any man should know better, it’s one who’s a lecturer in Women’s Studies!

Even so, that minor issue certainly didn’t inhibit my enjoyment of this fun, charming, poignant story of two people falling deeply and genuinely in love, which is what is at the core of this story. The fact that they don’t share my skin color? Completely irrelevant. Their love story is what shone through, and the reason why I’m happy to give this charming book five stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Emily (Mrs B's Books).
1,525 reviews83 followers
July 16, 2019
**My thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy for an honest review**

This story takes mainly takes place over a period of 24 hours and i really wanted to like this one more, but to be honest it seemed such a long 24 hours before anything happened other than them just talking and hashing out their pasts with a stranger.

Both Ezra and Angie have a past that they are going home to face, but after talking to each other they come out with more realisations and home truths than they expected along with a connection to someone that they have never felt before in more than the physical.

There is a lot of emotional talk and reflection within each others lives a few comedic moments and an interfering old man that pops up when not wanted, and then turns out he's quite sweet.

It's a good read if you like the emotional talk, but certainly not if you want lots of action and things going on, its more of a very slow burn.
Profile Image for Frida.
712 reviews27 followers
January 15, 2022
I can see why Beharrie is so recommended. She really goes deep into the characters' issues, there's lots of introspection happening and the dialogue is pitch perfect. The reason this one didn't work that well for me was probably that the characters and their issues weren't interesting/catchy/relatable enough I guess... I think I might like the sister's book. Oh and I liked the South African small town setting a lot!
Profile Image for JenReadsRomance.
291 reviews1,464 followers
December 16, 2018
Reminds me of the movie BEFORE SUNRISE: it all takes place in a day, and it's all talk-talk-talk. I loved this one!
Profile Image for Arlena.
3,141 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2018
Title: A Wedding One Christmas
Author: Therese Beharrie
Publisher: Carina Press
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Four

"A Wedding One Christmas" by Therese Beharrie

My Thoughts.....

This was a good read of how a hero and heroine who had their own demons came together to over come them while helping one another heal. The author really gives the reader quite a interesting story that deals with a good 'dialogue banter, humor, beautiful couple and a wonderful holiday...Christmas.' 'A Wedding One Christmas' will really get the reader ready for this holiday. I loved how this story starts "with Angie continuously being mistaken for a bridesmaid, because she's wearing a dress similar to what the bridesmaid are wearing." What will happen when "Angie seeks Ezra's help to flee the wedding party since they are under the misconception that she is a bridesmaid?"

It was wonderful how these two Angie and Ezra were able to converse so well together in this romantic read. In the end one can see how well Angie and Ezra were perfect for each other. So, what will happen as "Angie is returning home for the first time in years since her father’s death and Ezra is teacher, returning after a failed 7-year relations?" Well, to found out how this story will turn out you will have to pick up this well written sweet romance read to see how well this author brings it out so well to the readers. It will be a beautiful story of 'personal growth that will be surrounded by humor and some hot chemistry' and definitely by the end of this story one will be left with that 'warm and fuzzy feeling.'
Profile Image for N.G. Peltier.
Author 3 books225 followers
October 14, 2018
TW: discussion of death of parent

a great read packed with so much emotion and feeeels. Something Therese excels at! truly. Her exploration of her characters' internal conflicts feel so real and well fleshed out. I really liked this premise too!

Ezra and Angie had great banter and the backdrop for them meeting and forming this relationship was so fun! It all starts with Angie continuously being mistaken for a bridesmaid, because she's wearing a dress similar to what the bridesmaid are wearing, was a great starting point for all the wedding and Christmasy shenanigans that follow.

Really enjoyed this from beginning to end :)
Profile Image for Marielle.
729 reviews2 followers
July 30, 2020
I loved this!
This is a romance set entirely during 24 hours, and although the timeframe for falling in love is short, I found it totally believable. The couple talked, joked, laughed together and I loved them. Maybe it’s strength is because of the fact that during those 24 hours the focus of the book is entirely on the couple, with only minor appearances from other characters or events. While the story takes place around Christmas, the Season is not the focus of the book: the couple is.

If I could change something, it’d be the beginning of the book. The first scene had me almost putting it down. It felt silly and contrived, while the rest of the book isn’t.

I want more!
Profile Image for Gwessie Tee.
452 reviews14 followers
October 13, 2018
Absolutely fantastic book, our hero and heroine both lovely but both have their demons brought together by fate.

I won't give spoilers but will say this,
I've said on more than one occasion that I'm a firm believer in love being the best medicine, this book is most definitely another beautiful story that shows it, our author most definitely does not disappoint and includes some very giggle worthy moments on the way.

Thank you so much for writing this book x
Profile Image for Brandy.
905 reviews34 followers
December 23, 2021
At times I was so frustrated I wanted to yell at our hero and heroine, but oh my god, the depth of the characters and emotion! It was brilliant and wonderful to see them work through their respective pain and find joy. I loved it!
Profile Image for herdys.
562 reviews36 followers
December 11, 2018
A lovely romance set in a place I haven't read about. It was amazing to see them heal and help each other face their fears.
Profile Image for Julie.
23 reviews2 followers
November 26, 2022
I wanted a Christmas romance, but…I didn’t finish. Barely started. Just no.
Profile Image for Jenica.
1,102 reviews43 followers
February 4, 2021
I really liked this one. Beharrie's ability to write emotions and have you buy into a romance that develops over the course of 24 hours is beyond impressive. I really liked Angie and Ezra and even though we're with them for so short of a time in the sense that it's 24 hours, I feel like we got such a full picture of who they are. I do want to know more about them and see more of them because I'm greedy like that, but with the epilogue? This book is just honestly remarkable and I really need to pick up One Day to Fall.
279 reviews
February 25, 2021
I was super excited to read a romance not only set in South Africa but written by a South African, because I love that place. Plus I love fake dates and fake relationship tropes and meet cutes.

Sadly I was disappointed. I stopped reading around 30% but then I tried to keep going and just skim to see if it got better. I finally gave up after the couple's first kiss, a kiss that was described in a single sentence but led to pages of angsty feelings about exposition and dialogue where the couple psycho-analyzes each other.

I'm a person who feels a lot of feels and talks and thinks a lot about feelings. Until now, I've mostly DNFed books that personally offended me in some way, usually due to power dynamics at play or misogyny. I never would have thought a book where the two main characters literally do nothing except talk about their feelings would have been a problem. But it was.

I didn't believe that two strangers would unload all their secret feelings, and their apparent ability to read one another's deepest feelings felt forced. It just didn't work for me. I'm sure I'll try another book of this author's but for a while.
Profile Image for Pam Faste aka Peejakers.
175 reviews45 followers
December 30, 2019
This was a lovely book. Warm and human, full of humor, sweetness & lots of feels. Also lots of vulnerability & self-reflection, because the main characters are  complicated, deeply introspective people dealing with a considerable amount of emotional baggage from their pasts. All of which resonated immensely. Ymmv, of course, but I really loved this aspect of the book. Seeing into their individual thought processes, their tire-spinning ruminations  & the moments of insight when each begins to question their self-limiting beliefs, made them feel deeply real & recognizable to me. I especially loved how the book reveals their very attempts to justify (to each other or themselves) their messed-up actions or reactions, are instead the path to recognizing those actions or reactions aren't justified, are keeping them stuck. Because this is just, so psychologically on point, & something I've personally experienced so many times in real life, I can't even! 

But, the book is about more than just a story about self-growth, it's a deeply poignant romance. I loved how their falling in love is a beautiful falling into friendship  too, which kind of makes it like a friends-to- lovers romance, even though it all happens concurrently. I loved their goofiness at times, their mutual fond amusement, their deep, intuitive connection, & the utterly swoony romantic moments that were both the epitome of tropeyness & also transcended it. . I loved how  everything sexy was also infused with such care & reverent tenderness. I loved the silliness, the parts that were laugh-out-loud hilarious. And I loved the heart-aching  bittersweetness imbuing their most beautiful moments together .  I mean, there's kind of nothing like getting to have your heart vicariously broken and your HEA too. 😊

I will admit, however, that it took me a while to get into the book. In fact, I nearly gave up on it at 6%, and it wasn't until about 18% that I was well and truly hooked. So I want to talk a bit about that because I'm really glad I reconsidered, so I'd like to put it out there for other readers who may experience similar frustrations, that this book is worth sticking around for! And I don't just mean that it gets better as it goes along. Maybe that's part of it? But I think it's more that reading further deepens your emotional connection with the characters (duh!), & also puts some things that may not seem to make sense into context that makes sense of them. Which was the point were I started to realize it was all actually pretty brilliant!

My frustrations mostly centered around things that happened in the first few pages of the story: I found the coincidences that led to their meeting a bit too much disbelief to suspend.  The first conversation between the mc's hit me as weird & inane rather than the charmingly quirky I felt it was going for. And their insta-attraction at 5% felt off-putting, though to be fair, I suspect this part may be both a me thing & a demi thing: I didn't know enough about them yet to feel an emotional connection with either character, so the attraction felt annoyingly "fake" to me at first. But what bugged me most, was the way the heroine allowed herself to become so ensnared by the expectations of a few random strangers!

These annoyances reached critical mass at about 6%, at which point I impulsively decided I was done & deleted the book from my Kindle! But it  bothered me, because I almost never dnf! I guess I felt some need to justify that to myself, so I started writing it up as a comment, one I wasn't even sure I'd share, but wanted to at least get my thoughts down ... Only a funny thing happened on my way to that comment. I was writing it on the Memo app on my phone, & twice the app shut down so I lost everything I'd written. After the 2nd time it occurred to me that hmm, perhaps the universe was trying to tell me something? Like, maybe I shouldn't finish that comment, because maybe I shouldn't give up on the book!  I thought about the fact that, if this was a person, rather than a book, wouldn't I give them more of a chance before just impatiently writing them off? 

So, I re-downloaded the book and started over with a more open mind. And it made a huge difference. It still took me a while, but by 18% I was well on my way to falling in love with the characters, and the book.  And as I read, I began to understand that the stuff that I'd been most frustrated by, was kinda the whole point, and held meaning that was a lot bigger than just that small situation. 

I was also delighted to realize that the way my own impulsive rejection of the book & attempt to justify it, led instead to an interrogation and then rejection of that impulse - was perfectly mirrored by the characters going through the exact same process about their own life decisions! 

Tl;dr - I ended up loving the book. It wasn't without flaws, but in the end, I saw that as part of its beauty.

And, in what I always consider a bonus, especially in a book I'm reading for pleasure, this story and these characters had something to teach me. I love it so much when that happens! 😊❤

Very much recommended!
Profile Image for Lauren loves llamas.
809 reviews61 followers
December 6, 2018
I haven’t read Ms. Beharrie before, though I’d seen her books recommended frequently. Well, after reading this book, I’ve definitely put the rest of her backlist on my TBR! This is, in my mind, an example of a perfect holiday romance. It’s cozy, but not without angst, and it delves into some of the important themes surrounding the holidays. It’s also a rom-com over the course of one day, including crashing a wedding, a turn in a Christmas parade as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and an impromptu nativity play.

Angie is returning home to Cape Town for the holidays after several years out of the country when she stops at a small town on the way. Hilariously, though, she’s mistaken for a bridesmaid, and to get away from some persistent wedding guests, she talks another non-guest into pretending to be her boyfriend. Ezra’s also on his way back home to his family after some time away, and initially Angie is a funny distraction. As they talk, though, and their reasons for both stopping in this small town come out, it becomes clear that while they may be complete strangers, they may also be very, very good for each other. Is there more there to build on than just a mutual dislike of weddings?

She’d known him for all of a few hours and yet somehow, she steadied him. Despite the fact that she forced him to be honest—that she made him see things about himself he hadn’t before—she steadied him. Even though she put a spotlight on all the issues he wanted to avoid, preventing him from keeping them in the dark, she steadied him.

It’s hard to say too much about the characters’ motivations without being spoilerly, as the build up to finding out what’s brought each of them to this town is part of the tension of the novel, and it works beautifully. What I loved about this book was watching Angie and Ezra open up to each other – it is, after all, easier to talk to strangers sometimes about difficult things. They were also quite willing to call each other on their crap when they’re not being honesty with each other, or with themselves.

The silence that followed seemed heavy with what they weren’t saying, and he blurted out, ‘Why romance?’ She blinked. Adjusting to the abrupt change in topic, he thought.
‘Probably the happily-ever-afters.’ Her expression was pensive. ‘That I can control it.’
‘Oh. That’s not what I was expecting.’
She laughed softly. ‘Wouldn’t you hand out happily-ever-afters if you could?’
‘No, I meant being able to control it.’
‘Life is unpredictable,’ she replied after a pause. ‘I guess it’s appealing to me. The idea that I can give people happy endings when that’s not what happens in real life. Oh, no, wait,’ she said, her eyes wide, ‘that’s not what I meant.’

Besides the epilogue, the entire book happens in twenty-four hours in the same small town. It’s all set amongst some almost comedy of errors holiday goodness, from getting roped in to playing Santa and Mrs. Claus for a float for the town parade, to wandering a Christmas market, to playing Mary during an ad lib nativity play (with drunk wedding guests). There was something magical about the juxtaposition of small town holiday cheer with the deep subjects that Angie and Ezra were baring their souls over. There’s a lot about grief, trauma, and heartache, but I felt like it was handled well and very authentically. Honestly, the mix of emotions made it extremely hard for me to put the book down.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. While it’s not a traditional happy-go-lucky Christmas story, it’s heartwarming in its own way, and I would definitely recommend it!

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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1,513 reviews43 followers
February 26, 2019
I'm having a hard time rating this because it's not the book's fault I don't enjoy the genre or that I thought there would be a bit more meat to the story before I started reading.

Good stuff:
* The writing.
* Almost everything about the two main characters.
* The banter (lots of funny moments!).
* The intermingling of the wedding/Christmas was surprisingly amusing. The nativity improv was hilarious.
* The epilogue. I really liked it. Short and sweet. And even though my eyeballs started to roll themselves when I realized what was going to happen at the VERY end, the way she wrote it going down was absolutely perfect. Thumbs up.

Bad stuff:
* This is straight up navel-gazing (at their own and each other's) romance. Literally nothing else happens but these two people falling for each other over the course of a day and being extremely emotional (and extremely and repetitively introspective) about their families.
* There are no ghosts, psychics, murders, detectives, or hockey players. Turns out I need at least one of those things in my "romance" stories.
* Charles drove me crazy. Like...ick.
* The "final confrontation" scene—I actually like how it started to play out, but after all of the wishy-washiness from both of them throughout the rest of the book, it didn't need to be actually confrontational. I was bummed that it wasn't just straight-up sweet.
* There's no sex. Honestly, I don't care. Because of my general ambivalence about the story, I sort of just wanted it to be over. But there's kind of a sex build-up scene which one of them cuts short...and then it's never finished. Not at the end of the main arc, not in the epilogue, nowhere. I would have been pretty disappointed if I had been truly invested in the story. And this might very well be because of the publisher, etc.—I have no idea. Maybe all of her books are like this. I just don't know. But given the lake scene, I expected an actual sex scene later and then...nothing.

So...IDK. If you like romance and introspection, this is probably your cup of tea.

Last, what the hell is up with the cover??? I hope the author had some very strong words with someone about them putting a WHITE dude on her cover. What the hell.

So...maybe a 3.5 rounded up because I'm annoyed on her behalf about the cover.
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