For fans of Alexandria Bellefleur and Alexis Hall comes a charming, hilarious, and heartwarming LGBTQIA+ romcom about two separate couples finding love over the holidays from acclaimed author Roan Parrish!
Greta Russakoff loves her tight-knit family and tiny Maine hometown, even if they don't always understand what it's like to be a lesbian living in such a small world. She desperately needs space to figure out who she is.
Truman Belvedere has just had his heart crushed into a million pieces when he learned that his boyfriend of almost a year has a secret life that includes a husband and a daughter. Reeling from this discovery, all he wants is a place to lick his wounds far, far away from New Orleans.
Enter Greta and Truman's mutual friend, Ramona, who facilitates a month-long house swap. Over the winter holidays, each of them will have a chance to try on a new life...and maybe fall in love with the perfect partner of their dreams. But all holidays must come to an end, and eventually Greta and Truman will have to decide whether the love they each found so far from home is worth fighting for.
Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.
When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.
She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
I have decidedly middle of the road feelings about The Holiday Trap by the usually great Roan Parrish. To be honest, my rating is around 2.5 stars, especially since I almost DNFed during the epilogue.
I have a lot of thoughts about this story, and some may be rambling so bear with me.
First of all, I think having two romances being told at once was distracting. Neither relationship felt fully developed and I wanted more from both.
The male/male pairing was very cute in a hurt/comfort way. The main characters were both kind of schmoopy and romantic, so their pairing was easy for me, even if it felt a bit rushed. I much preferred this story, probably because I related to the MCs more. I really enjoyed Truman's bullet journaling and his problem-solving and organizational drive. I saw a lot of myself in him and his compulsions, and I really enjoyed him as a character. I also liked his love of his favorite fantasy book and that storyline, though it felt underdeveloped for me. I also think the thread of Truman's ex was underdeveloped (they dated for 11 months and Guy didn't even try to text or call him when Truman went radio silence?? felt like it needed more there). Still, this was the "easier" pairing of the story.
The female/female pairing was more difficult for me. I enjoyed having a Jewish MC (more on that later) and I actually adored the plant details. I loved Greta's love of plants, and I felt that really come through the pages (or ebook pages, so to speak). I did find the story was too muddled with all of the side characters, but my biggest issue was I didn't love the romance between Greta and Carys. I know this is a probably a personal failure of mine that I didn't like Carys, but I didn't like how she talked to Greta when Greta overstepped. I think it's because I'm a neurotic people pleaser who goes the extra step to make people happy, but I thought Carys was cold and aloof too often for me. I also felt like they got together and then their relationship sort of stagnated. They hung out and did stuff and...?? I didn't get as much of a sense of where their relationship was headed, maybe because Greta's storyline was clogged with her family issues and lots of side characters.
I know this is a holiday story so they had to focus on it, but I literally had to look up if the author was Jewish because I don't know a single Jewish person that even cares about Hanukkah. We'll have a little party, maybe, and obviously do gifts with kids, but most Jews care much, much more about other holidays. Of course, if you've met one Jewish person you've met one Jewish person, so everyone's family traditions may be different, but it just rang a bit false to me.
Overall, I think I enjoyed this story just enough to light up that third star (but the more I linger on it the less I feel like giving this story that much credit). It had a lot of positives, but it doesn't live up to the movie it is modeled after or it's potential.
The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish Contemporary LGBTQ+ romance. Two intertwined stories, one each of M-M and F-F. Greta and Truman need an escape from relationships gone south and while they don’t know each other, end up trading houses for the get-away they need. Each finds beauty in Maine and New Orleans and comfort in their new surroundings as well as potential for a different life.
Sometimes it’s only a small pebble that starts the cascade. Other times it is a dramatic uprooting that is needed for a change of mindset. This story shakes up both Truman and Greta to self analyze why and where they are in life (not necessarily deeply) and suggests love is simply a matter of geography. For Truman and Greta, that’s exactly what happens when they switched homes. It’s darling and steamy and hopeful. Both find love in a person as well as in their new town. Both make positive and helpful changes in the situations, not sitting back and letting others do all the work. It’s a wonderful winter holiday romance.
Oof. I’ll give the author credit for being ballsy enough to take on the house swap trope a la The Holiday, but she had to know how much taking on a holiday favorite would open her up for criticism. Here’s a brief list of things I hated:
1. Zero plot aside from the borrowed trope.
2. Well there were pitiful attempts like a mother with Alzheimer’s and a son who was more than willing to ignore her with one of the couples and a controlling family with a controlling girlfriend whose warning signs the female lead was more than willing to ignore with the other couple.
3. Carys. *vomit emojis forever*
4. Kitchen sink Covid hobbies like bullet journaling and “plant mom life” (*shudder*) that added nothing to the nonexistent story.
5. Instabanging but no chemistry.
6. Speaking of - waaaaay too graphic sex for unsuspecting victims who simply fall for all cartoony cover holiday books.
7. A Jewish character just for the sake of trying to be inclusive? I mean they threw a one day “Chanukah” booze party but included zero religious or food or gift traditions??? Don’t even bother with that half-assery.
8. Two weeks and these idjits are upending their entire lives for each other? Especially when they both seem to be pretty co-dependent to begin with and are trying to break the habit.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
This was SO good!! The Holiday Trap hooked me with the premise (The Holiday but make it queer? sign me up!) and kept me with the lovely romances (heartwarming AND steamy) and the exploration of complicated family issues. This was fantastic and I was equally invested in both relationships.
Greta is a Jewish lesbian from small-town Maine with a close-knit family that is closer to co-dependent and driving her up the wall. Truman is a gay accountant from New Orleans with a passion for bullet-journaling and a tendency to not advocate for his needs in relationships. Greta's family signed her up for a dating auction right before Hanukkah, even though she's queer and also hates the concept. Truman just found out that his boyfriend of a year is secretly married with a kid. They both need to escape for the holidays and a mutual friend convinces them to swap houses! They do and both end up finding love.
This was incredibly charming, sweet, and sexy. I clearly need to read more from this author because I was such a fan! The audio narrators are excellent and I like that there is one for each of the two character perspectives. I received an audio copy of this book for review via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.
Additional content warning for a parent with dementia and a narcissistic parent.
Featuring ~ multiple 3rd person POV, LGBT characters
Greta's family is trying to set her up...with a man. She's fed up with them not understanding her lesbian life. Truman is heartbroken when he finds out his boyfriend has been living a double life. They have never met, but both need to get away from their life for a little while, so they swap homes for a one month vacation. Will they end up finding everything they've ever wanted roughly 1600 miles from the only home they've ever known?
Greta and Carys were fine together, but I didn't love them. Her mother and sister, Sadie, were the worst. Truman and Ash were totally adorable. I liked their story line more than the other. I really liked Truman's little mystery he uncovered and how he was so excited investigating it.
Narrated by Natalie Duke, Pete Cross and Hillary Huber for 12 hours and 22 minutes, easy to follow at 2x. All narrators were lovely. As an added bonus there was dual narration within the some chapters, that doesn't happen too often.
Overall, since it's two romance stories in one, it was on the longer side and the pacing a bit slow. I did enjoy it for the most part though and would read this author's work again.
*Thanks to Dreamscape Media, the author and NetGalley for the advance audiobook. I am voluntarily leaving my honest review*
I won a free copy of this book through a goodreads giveaway! === Somewhat mixed feelings on this one! The writing was great, as one can expect from a Parrish book, and I appreciated the way that the author brought up a lot of sensitive topics throughout the narrative in a way that generally felt quite organic to the story and not overly preachy. I say mostly, because even when it felt organic to the story, there were a number of times where it really did feel like the author was unable to let a single opportunity go by without bringing up some mental health issue or therapy learning etc. and it did sometimes feel OTT. But still, it was a heart-warming read, and veeeeeery light on the holiday aspect--I pretty much entirely forgot this was supposed to be a holiday book, which wasn't exactly a problem for me, but it did feel a bit confusing/jarring when all of a sudden the holidays would be mentioned again seemingly out of the blue.
My real issue here is one which I often have in books that have multiple narratives focusing on different characters, in that I just didn't feel equally invested in both stories. Ostensibly this is an equal-split book, but it did feel like the focus was more on Greta and the f/f pairing, which might just be because I thought it was the weaker of the two storylines. There's some great stuff there, but I really never felt like I got to know Carys, the love interest, who basically just seemed like a kind of manic pixie dream girl with no flaws--she didn't feel real to me, and as a result, I felt less invested in her relationship with Greta. They also get together really early in the book, and the rest of their story sort of felt... lacking in tension. It was a nice, sweet story, but Greta's entire arc is really an internal one/one relating to family and so the relationship aspect almost felt peripheral, in a way that almost made me wish there hadn't been a relationship at all if the love interest was going to be this perfect cardboard cutout with only one moment of real tension.
I felt far more invested in the m/m pairing--both the characters felt a lot more fully fleshed out, and the love interest, Ash, definitely had some clear issues and flaws in addition to the positives. They also had a slower build, which I think just added some good tension/kept me more invested. I did feel like we got far less of them in the book, and only one sexy scene, and given I felt this was the stronger story line, it was hard not to feel a bit disappointed.
I did enjoy this one overall, but I almost wish this had been a duology or something, so the author could perhaps flesh out the stories a bit more. It did feel a bit like some of Roan's more recent mainstream work--there was a gritty edge missing here that I so loved in their earlier stuff... This definitely felt like a rom-com, and there's nothing wrong with that! Especially one that's been queer-ified, but it's just not generally what I love to read.
Take that Kate Winslet & Cameron Diez movie The Holiday, but make it queer with explicit scenes. Fabulous! The characters are charismatic and the story is wonderful. It was just what I needed after a few shitty days at work. Always nice to get lost in fictional character's woes, instead of your own. Big thank you to NetGalley & Dreamscape Media for my audio DRC.
Do you like that movie the holiday? 🎄Yano the Christmas one where they swap houses and find love and all that? Yea? Then you’ll like this.
In this book we follow Greta and Truman as they swap houses for a month over the holidays. It was sweet getting two side by side love stories, but I’ll be real honest you are most likely going to connect with one more than the other. That’s not a bad thing. Plus neither story was disappointing, but I did have a favorite and you probably will too. (Even if it’s not the same as mine)
Greta’s story takes her to New Orleans where she makes friends and meets Carys. Things get spicy quickly between these two. I loved all the friends/side characters Greta meets…I didn’t always love Carys tho. I understand her and I get what the author was going for, she just wasn’t my favorite and I couldn’t put my finger on why. I also felt Greta’s storyline followed the friends a LOT more so the relationship didn’t feel as important as Greta finding her place in a new city. Truman. Sweet baby angel Truman. (Can you tell which storyline was my favorite 😂) He finds out he is not only being cheated on but is actually the side piece in the very beginning and swaps houses with Greta in an attempt to run away from all the broken heart feelings. He is an avid fantasy reader and bullet journal user! So of course I immediately adored him. He meets Ash, the local flower shop owner and Greta’s bestie. Things between them are sweet and slow burn. Where Greta’s love story with Carys felt hot and fast, Truman and Ash are soft and sweet.
Overall I enjoyed this. It gave everything I thought it would. I smiled and got a little misty eyed. Not a new favorite but I’m glad I read it.
The holiday, but make it very, very gay! I really loved this! Greta is living on a small, isolated and very cold island with her big chaotic family. Truman is living in sunny New Orleans with a gigantic dog (it’s a Roan Parrish book, ofc there are animals) in a happy relationship. But when Gretas meddling mother and sister sign her up in a “dinner date auction”…with only straight people and Truman finds out his boyfriend is seeing someone else too, both decide to spend their holidays away from home. Trough a mutual friend they decide to swap houses for a month and their adventures begin.
I really loved reading about both of them finding out who they are and what they want on their own. I loved them making new friends and finding new passions. Greta and her queer friend group, her plant grandparents and her hot spooky tourguide girl. Truman and his investigations on his favourite fantasy book series, his journaling and the hot flower shop guy.
This wasn’t really a holiday book with lot of holiday activities and decorating and traditions. For me this was more about their self discovery journey and them making healthy decisions for themselves and their lives. I would have loved to read a bit more about Truman, because it was very focussed on Greta. All in all I really liked this and had fun reading! I’ll definitely reread this in December via audio!
I find it difficult to assign star ratings to audiobooks, because the narration can do so much to add/detract from my enjoyment, independent of the quality of the writing. But on the whole, this book hovered somewhere in the three-to-four star range. I'd recommend it for anyone looking for a fairly light, easy-reading romance with a focus on found family and personal growth for the MCs.
The Holiday Trap uses a unique two-story parallel structure, one which I suspect is tricker to write and less forgiving than it appears on the surface. The first story belongs to Greta, who lives on tiny Owl Island in Maine. Her mother and older sister have just surprise-volunteered her for an auction where she'll be set up with a random man on a date, for charity. Their actions go against Greta's horror at the idea of date-auctioning, her stated desire not to participate in this particular auction, and her identity as a lesbian. That her family ignores all three of these things, and Greta's reaction is to go away for a month rather than going on a murder spree, was slightly confusing to me. But go away for a month she does. With the help of a mutual friend, she swaps homes with Truman, an accountant from New Orleans who has just discovered that his "enigmatic" boyfriend Guy in fact has a husband and an entire kid. So, clearly he wants to get away as well.
The two stories unfold in parallel, at first alternating every chapter between Greta's story in New Orleans and Truman's in Maine, and then switching every 3 chapters or so for the rest of the book. While I've read romance novels with romantic B-plots, I don't think I've ever read one that tries to give full space to two separate, largely un-connected love stories. I found it fascinating as an intellectual exercise in better understanding romance tropes and plotting and character development. But, perhaps in part because of the alternating structure, and in part because it felt like such a structural thought-experiment, I never quite sunk into it emotionally.
There were parts of reading the parallel structure that I really appreciated. Truman and Ash's story was a slow-burn, feelings-forward romance with the love story foregrounded, while the background was colored in with musings on community, intergenerational solidarity, and learning to ask for what you want. Greta and Carys, in the same narrative span, have an insta-chemisty romance, where the love story blended into explorations of queer found family, learning to set boundaries, and self-actualization. I think it takes a really impressive authorial range to pull both of those off, especially when some of the tropes and pacing decisions are so polarly opposite that most readers are likely to come in already strongly preferring one over the other. That Parrish held my attention through both stories is, I think, not nearly as easy as it may look. And I really loved the moments where some of the thematic threads from both stories wove together - especially the idea of how you can learn to change and shape the way you fit into the life of your community, whether that means changing yourself, changing your community, or both.
(As a sidebar, I also appreciated that through the location swap, the book leaned into the small-town charm of an island community in Maine, while also underlining that the diversity of a big city like New Orleans provides a vital kind of comfort that often goes unrecognized, especially for queer people and people of color)
That being said, the parallel structure was also rather unforgiving, particularly of similarity in characterization. Both Greta and Truman leave home at the same moment, embark on journeys about learning emotional expressiveness at the same moment, both meet a swoony love interest at the same moment (immediately on arrival in a new town). And while that's just... romance plot structuring, watching it happen twice simultaneously sometimes pushed that structure from the comfortingly-familiar to the inorganically-forced. The book also felt, to me, a little unclear in how it wanted to employ "rom-com" tropes. One of the primary ways it evoked a rom-com atmosphere was by having a charmingly awkward MC who just can't control their verbal efflux every time they open their mouth, trips over things, and generally is bumblingly incompetent around their LI... in both Greta and Truman. And that is... just too much to take in two separate narrators, for me.
I also struggled, somewhat, with differences in the central romantic conflict between the two stories. Specifically, the fact that Ash and Truman's 11th-hour conflict came for my feelings in an emotionally accessible, almost primal way, while Greta and Carys's low-moment conflict is rather minor, and buried under what felt like layers and layers of therapy-speak. Essentially
I will also say that for a book that relied heavily on the idea that you need to accept a person's boundaries, I was unpleasantly shocked by the plot coda where
Overall, most of what I didn't click with here was really the ultimate expression of "YMMV." Because sometimes I loved the way this book used similarities or differences between stories, and sometimes aspects of those same similarities or differences fell flat for me. Which is... just the most subjective thing ever. As all reviewing is. On the whole, I did enjoy my time listening to this story, and I think it will please a lot of readers, whether they're looking for a highly readable exercise in romance trope deployment, or a chance to think more deeply and directly about what does and doesn't work for them within the genre.
In terms of audiobook quality, both narrators were excellent, though I didn't care for some of the choices made for side characters in Greta's story, which may well have added to my comparative difficulty engaging with that half of the book.
Disclaimer: I received a free audio review copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
I don't usually write DNF notes - but this is an ARC book so I try to give my reasons. I read many of Parrish's books prior to this one. It feels rather different though, more like a queer (mainstream) fiction that wants to check ALL the boxes (including gay, lesbian, trans, and non-binary characters) and rather light on the usual romance I got from Parrish.
I struggled to get into it... mostly because I didn't particularly interested with Greta (and Carys) as one of the main couples. Truman and Ash feel like they would fit me better but I hated that they had to share the spotlight with Greta's story. I know I am still 1/4th of the book but I can't find motivation to continue reading. Especially I know there are other to-read books waiting that may be better fit for me at the moment.
So I'm dropping the book because of that. I hope other readers enjoy it more than I do.
The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
The Holiday Trap ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75 Genre: Romance Format: Audiobook Date Published: 9/6/22 Author: Roan Parrish Publisher: Dreamscape Media Narrators: Natalie Duke; Pete Cross; Hillary Huber GR: 3.75
I requested a digital advanced readers copy from NetGalley and Dreamscape Media and providing my opinion voluntarily and unbiased.
Synopsis: Greta Russakoff loves her family, even if they don't always understand what it's like to be a lesbian living in such a small world. Truman Belvedere has just had his heart crushed into a million pieces when he learned that his boyfriend has a secret life that includes a husband and a daughter. Enter Greta and Truman's mutual friend, Ramona, who facilitates a month-long house swap. Over the winter holidays, each of them will have a chance to try on a new life...and maybe fall in love with the perfect partner of their dreams. Is love worth fighting for?
My Thoughts: The one thing that was distracting is two romances going on at the same time. It would have come across better doing a series with one romance per book, even if they were releases simultaneously. The two stories, as told, were sweet, romantic, and just makes you feel good about the world. The only thing I would like to have seen is less side character exploration in Greta’s story, it muddled the romance a bit. The narrator does an amazing job with the characters, with each main character being represented amazingly, you could feel like you were there on their journeys with them. The characters were flushed out (Greta was lacking a little), had depth, witty banter, and chemistry. The author’s writing was complex, swoon-worthy, steamy, and intriguing. This story was just a good heartwarming, let’s get ready for the holidays love story. This is out now and I would recommend picking up, especially the audiobook!
A heartwarming, funny, feel-good queer holiday romcom that sees two strangers swapping houses ala The holiday movie style and each finding new love over the holidays.
Truman is looking for a fresh start after he discovers his boyfriend has a whole other life, while Greta is looking to escape the claustrophobia and loneliness of living on a small Maine island.
When a friend suggests a house swap, both jump at the chance, which sees Greta discovering a bustling new queer community and love interest in New Orleans while Truman finds a new sense of home on the island as he befriends a local flower shop owner dealing with his mother's Alzheimer's.
I loved both these storylines equally. Both characters go on an important self-discovery journey finding meaningful and healthy romantic relationships. There are some steamy open door scenes making this more than your typical Hallmark style holiday romance. Highly recommended for fans of Alexandra Bellefleur and Casey McQuiston. Much thanks to NetGalley for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review! This was also good on audio too.
I’m going to start off this review by saying The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black and Cameron Diaz…that one) is my favorite movie. Point blank, it is my favorite. This book should have been an instant favorite for me, a queer version of The Holiday?! Everything I could’ve wanted…but it wasn’t. And that’s not to say I disliked this book, but it had some fundamental flaws that don’t hold a candle to the film.
Greta and Truman both need a change and swap houses, Truman reigning from NoLa and Greta from Owl Island. Truman needs someone to watch his beloved dog, Horse and Greta needs someone to care for her many, many plants.
While I really liked both Greta and Truman, Truman’s story read like the sweet, holiday rom-com story I expected and Greta’s read more like a story of self-actualization, growth and standing up for yourself, and therefore had a more serious and less fun tone. The tones of the interconnected stories didn’t match and because I was expecting a cute romance, made me gravitate to and enjoy Truman’s story much more. This was disappointing to me because the WLW story with a lesbian lead deserved to be just as fun and cheery as the MLM story in this novel. Greta’s love interest, Carys often came off as standoffish and disinterested while Truman’s love interest, Ash was always clearly into Truman. Which is even more confusing because I believe this book was written by a queer woman (it appears they use both she/her and they/them pronouns).
I did enjoy the queer found family of Greta’s story, I’m a huge proponent of this personally and always love to see this in fiction. It was lovely to see her finally find a space where she could comfortably be herself. I also did appreciate the realistic depiction of her blood family and the dysfunction and hurt that can come from those closest to you.
Truman always seemed very sure of himself and I loved the story of his love for the fantasy series he adores and the way he is immediately ready and willing to help Ash’s business not only survive but thrive. Ash and Truman build a solid foundation of mutual adoration and like for one another and their conflict ultimately comes from fear and anxiety.
I feel that making Greta’s storyline in this book a standalone novel and replacing the one in this book with a WLW love story closer to the tone of Truman’s could have helped make this the perfect queer holiday romance.
This one gets 3.5 stars.
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I really liked the concept of this book, and I'm a big fan of Roan Parrish's writing but unfortunately this didn't work very well for me. I wanted to love it because The Holiday is one of my favourite movies to watch at Christmas. Make it queer? Even better!
The pacing and length of this book was a problem for me. This book felt very long, and it took me a lot longer than normal to finish it. I think this author's style and love of small details just didn't work as well with two couples, but as other reviews haven't mentioned this it could just be my own impatience at how long it took for things to progress. Detail isnormally something I enjoy in this author's books.
I also didn't like one of the MCs very much. Although Carys was really emotionally intelligent and I appreciated her wanting to communicate her boundaries in a clear way, to me she lacked softness with Greta and wasn't particularly kind while Greta was figuring out her family issues. I liked Greta, Truman and Ash significantly more. There was dissonance between what Greta was allowed and what Truman was allowed. Both of these characters are "helpers" or "fixers" who want to make life better for their partners. Truman had so many solutions for Ash's life and very much overstepped into a near stranger's life, while Greta was being told not to buy ice cream and clean up a party. In separate stories the personal preferences and boundaries of Carys and Ash wouldn't have been an issue for me but in the same story it unfortunately made Carys seem really harsh. I didn't enjoy that.
I did love the queer found family in Greta's point of view. This always gives me the warm fuzzies. Also Truman's relationship with a beloved book series that carried him through hard times was very relatable and heartwarming. There were several things to like about The Holiday, it just didn't end up being love for me.
Thanks to Netgalley and SourcebooksCasa for the ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This one was so cute! I really enjoy The Holiday kind of storyline where two people switch lives because they really need a step back to review where they are and we follow them and they fall in love! I really liked the cozy feels of this book and it was just what I wanted. Both had to address feelings about their families, their jobs, and what they wanted out of a relationship. I had a good time reading this and enjoyed all of the side characters too! The audio was great and I recommend checking it out!
I don't know it's if it's because I have been just shy of finding favorites lately, but everything about this book was perfect for me. I loved the premise and the theme, the characters and their love interests, the towns and the atmospheres. Everything.
So this book is about our two main characters Greta and Truman. Greta lives in this itty bitty little island in Maine where everyone knows everyone and her family is super close but also a little bit overbearing. When her mom and sister volunteer her for an auction of sorts and totally disregard her dislike of the event not to mention her sexuality as a lesbian, Greta needs to get away.
Then we have Truman. Truman with his giant dog named Horse who lives in New Orleans and when he goes to surprise his boyfriend with a little holiday gift he finds out that his boyfriend is actually a husband and a father. Bombshell. So Truman is heartbroken and has to get out of New Orleans immediately.
Thankfully for Greta and Truman, they have a mutual friend named Ramona who suggests that they do a house swap where Greta will go down to New Orleans and watch Truman's dog Horse for the month and Truman will go up to Maine and take care of all of Greta's plants. Neither one of them was expecting to find a deep love of their new environment as well as potential love interests.
I don't really want to talk a ton about what happens when Greta and Truman get to their house swapped houses, but I loved both of their love interests so much. I especially loved the conversations about mental health and family relationships and toxic parents. I need stories like this where there are characters in their 20s and 30s confronting their parents for their shitty behavior. We have a character who confronts an overbearing parent and another character who confronts a narcissistic parent and then we have another character whose parents is sick and that's an entirely different relationship.
This book isn't necessarily anything earth shattering but everything just lined up for me. The characters, all of them, main characters, love interests, and community characters were so we'll fleshed out and detailed. The cities and their quirks were interested and fun. Out of all the books I've read so far this month I've had so many that are almost favorites but something got in the way and I'm so happy that this one didn't have anything outwardly problematic about it. It was refreshing. I'm not super surprised because I really love Roan Parrish and have been looking forward to this one and I'm super excited that I was able to get the audiobook.
Jewish lesbian MC, fat sapphic/lesbian LI, gay MC, gay LI with depression.
This was a mixed bag and it pains me even though I would still, tentatively, recommend it. This review will be very vague so as to avoid spoilers and rambly, you've been warned. We are following 2 couples in alternating chapters: one M/M that gets a 5star from me, I wanted to read more about them, and an F/F couple that didn't work for me because I liked neither MCs and everything felt rush so it would be a 2.5/3star on that front. We spent more time with the F/F couple than the M/M couple and I feel I know the M/M MCs better. The M/M pairing was great, their struggles felt genuine and we got a very nice slow burn, can we get a novella with just them? TBH I jumped the F/F chapters at one point to continue with the M/M couple and then went back for the other couple. Both couples are single POV, which I prefer, that worked great here, especially for the M/M pairing, can you tell I love them and wish them all the things?
The other problem with the F/F couple was that, as other reviewers pointed out, the characters were speaking like professional therapists which would have been fine if it had been their jobs but it wasn't. As a result, for the F/F couple everything was said on top of being shown at times (sometimes it wasn't) and this relative lack of subtlety is so not Parrish that it broke my heart a little. This author knows how to write the best conflict scenes in which the emotional stakes are very high and the conversation is very difficult, meandering and not a one time/solve all affair so I was bummed that we didn't get that here (there was a situation that would have warranted it). What we got was a very straight forward conversation in which the characters know the problems on a conscious level and talk about/solve most of it. Granted not all "villain" were forgiven/all problems solved (that's the Parrish I know and love) but still it was too easy to me. Parrish is also amazing at creating a specific love/physical language for their couples, they touch each other in small but specific/character driven ways that make the couple feel unique, I'm not only talking about sex, it can be non-sexual touching as well. Again this was missing here and the few sex scenes we did get were nice but felt rather generic. They were not bad or superfluous by any means but something was missing to me, for both couples.
(free review copy) Okay, so here it is. I have loved every other book I've read by Roan Parrish and I'm just chalking this one up to an experiment with a new style that didn't quite work out. I adored the queer romances, and the settings of island Maine and NOLA were deliciously described. But it was a slog to read, I think because it felt like two distinct books. And I think it SHOULD have been two books. With the house swap theme, it could have been written fully in one of the settings with just messages from the other to show a glimpse of how it's going, and then the NEXT book could have fully fleshed out the other setting. It was just trying to do too much, despite all of the amazingness. Also, I was silly to think this was a holiday book. Chanukah is a small part of the story, but it's NOT a holiday book. Can't wait to read whatever Parrish writes next, though!
One of my all time favorite movies is The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. Even though it's technically a Chrismas movie, I watch it all year long, I don't even care! And Roan Parrish has managed to capture so much of what I adore in that film, modernize it by giving it a wonderful queer spin, and adds in her unique Roan Parish touches along the way.
A hurt/comfort romance The Holiday Trap focuses on finding one's place in the world. The characters are working through finding a balance of work/life/family/friends with what will truly make THEM happy and fulfilled.
Fans of Roan Parrish already know she writes such gorgeous steamy physical romance scenes. While Greta and Carys' chemistry is off the charts from the moment they meet, Truman and Ash's slow burn is romantic and very sweet... till they get going, and then they are scorching-hot together.
I really enjoyed The Holiday Trap, and hopefully we'll continue to see more blending of different types of queer couples in future Parrish romances.
The audio version is beautifully performed by Natalie Duke; Pete Cross; Hillary Huber.
thank you to Dreamscape Media via NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of the audio version of The Holiday Trap for my honest review, all opinions are my own
Thoughts: Tis’ the season and I wanted a holiday read, so why not make the Yuletide gay (lol)?
First of all let’s set the record straight that Horse (who is a Great Dane) is the main character of this story. And if not him, Ramona the fairy god-b*tch is (her own words)!
If you select to read this book, please do it in the coziest setting of your choice. Mine was next to my Christmas tree on the sofa wrapped in blankets with a cup of tea and ‘Christmas Coffee Shop’ ambience in the background. It was perfect and made this reading all the more enjoyable.
This book was charming and somewhat steamy at times (and it wasn’t just because of the cocoa or New Orleans weather)! Greta and Truman are both stuck in their ways, and we have a chance to join their journey of self-discovery, change, holiday-feels and finding love. It was a fun fast-paced read. The predictability of this book was high, but if you treat it like a hallmark movie or a holiday romance read (because it is), then you’ll find yourself enjoying it nonetheless. My only bad remarks might be that we jump in the romance aspects of it a little too quickly. This is especially in Greta’s case. I also think the 6 months later epilogues didn’t need to be as long.
Would I recommend this and to who: Those who want queer and cheer for the holiday. (I needed the rhyme lol). Paperback/Hardcover/Audiobook/E-book: Paperback How did I discover this: Barnes and Noble Holiday Romance Shelf Pace: Fast to Medium Cover thoughts: Eh. It does the job in telling you what the book is about and cutesy. POV: (single or multi) Multi - Greta & Truman Quotes: (In regards to a garden) “I asked her once if she had planted them with composition in mind, and she said. ‘You don’t compose nature. Nature composes, and it’s up to you to find the right perspective.” Triggers: Emotional abuse, Sexual content, Toxic relationship, Infidelity, Dementia, Domestic abuse, Homophobia, etc.
There was no… real rom or com about this? At all? I didn’t laugh once? It was insta-something in both relationships and then, with varying degrees of smugness and judgment, 20-somethings lecturing other 20-somethings on how to live The Right Way for hundreds of pages. It was very dry and it also felt… mean? Eventually? Like all we got of these leads was everyone around them telling them how awful they are and lecturing them to do better, because magically every person they meet has life figured out perfectly except them. The MM story had some potential, even though it was basically just unrelenting sadness and lecture after lecture I could see how those MCs kinda sorta might fit, even if we didn’t actually get thy development on page in this book, but the FF story made me feel awful for the lead even through the alleged happy ending. I wish I’d DNF’d because this book kept me awake in a bad way the night I read it; it was a lot of marinating in misery and judgment from all sides in both storylines.
It especially didn’t feel like Greta was making friends or finding a real relationship or a life of her own, it felt like she was choosing a new version of the problem she’d had trying to please her family with trying to fit into the New Orleans group. The book clearly thinks Carys should be my favorite character and she was… not. I felt like she was pretty awful to Greta and was almost a manic pixie New Orleans dream girl except, well, pretty mean and convinced of her own superiority. The choices of drama for this relationship were also not good— like I get that y’all didn’t align in preference here and that needs a talk, but your girlfriend trying to do an objectively nice thing that is just not your preferred nice thing is not an inherent character flaw and reason to berate her and get weirdly threatening until she basically begs forgiveness and promises to change her whole personality to match you after a misunderstanding because you didn’t actually communicate clearly the first time.
In the end I just didn’t feel like anyone in this book was really going to be okay where we left them, no HEA or HFN vibes for me, and I was dreading Greta-Carys chapters by halfway through the book even as Truman-Ash stayed… pretty half-baked. I think this one may be my last Parrish. It’s definitely my last Parrish pre-order.
The Holiday is my favourite holiday movie, and this book sounded so much like it. Not to mention that Roan Parrish is one of my favourite romance authors. So I've been VERY excited to read this, and I had such a good time with it.
When Truman finds out his boyfriend is actually married with a child, and when Greta's mum and sister sign her up for an auction where she gets "sold" to go on a date with some guy, even though they know she's a lesbian, they both decide they could use some time away from home. Enter a mutual friend, and their house swap is quickly arranged. Truman goes to the island in Maine where Greta lives to take care of her MANY plants, and Greta goes to Truman's place in New Orleans to take care of his Great Dane, Horse.
What I loved most about this wasn't just the romance, even though both romances were just SO lovely. It's that outside of the romances, both Truman and Greta finally get a chance to pause and contemplate about their lives so far and if those are actually working for them. They get to figure out if something should change, and they learn that they're in charge of their own lives and are allowed to ask for what they want and make choices for themselves. So outside of a lovely double romance (both m/m and f/f), we also get a really introspective, inspirational story about going after what you want in life and not molding yourself into what other people want.
Take The Holiday (which is one of my favorite Christmas movies) and make it queer and inclusive and that’s exactly what The Holiday Trap is!
I loved so many things about this book…the queerness, communicating needs, cutting off toxic family members, recognizing that not everyone celebrates Christmas (Jewish rep!), etc.
Oh…and deliciously steamy scenes!
I really enjoyed both Greta's and Truman's stories and their respective love interests. I will say that this book was a little bit slow to get into in the beginning as we first learn about the two main protagonists, but once they officially swap and settle into their new environments, I was sold!
Thank you to Dreamscape Media for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
This was a very cute queer reimagining of the 2006 film, The Holiday. (Essentially two strangers switch homes around the holidays because they’re both having a bad time in their current lives, and then have some romance and fun.) I will say the actual holiday elements aren’t highlighted too much in here, one lead is Jewish and skips out on Hanukah with her family that year, and I’m not even sure if the other lead celebrates anything during the winter, and if he does, it’s not a big deal within his familial unit. The focus was on them needing a change of place and people for some reflection and space to think.
We have two leads, and two POVs throughout the story, Greta from Maine dealing with an overbearing family, and Truman from New Orleans dealing with the crushing realization that his boyfriend has another life (husband and child, presumably), and needs to get away.
I appreciated how each romance had very unique differences, and Parrish gave each character a personality throughout the book. The FF romance was very instant attraction, going off of vibes, and centers around Greta learning that a queer found family can be just as important as a biological family. The MM romance was focusing around Truman learning that he needs to have a backbone and communicate his needs in a relationship, instead of trying to pretzel himself into a box to meet the needs of his partners. His romance is slower, more tentative, and features two sad boys (I loved it.)
I ended up really enjoying both of these romances on their own, and thought the connection of G & T having a mutual friend in common was a good way to make a slightly realistic plot for these two adults to switch homes with a complete stranger. There is a big emphasis throughout both stories on self reflection, understanding your needs and values, and communicating your wants. I think both of the romances really focused on more self work than the romances, especially during a month-ish time period of switching places.
Overall I did really enjoy this book, I was rooting for Greta and Truman, and also Ash (Truman's love interest.) I didn't absolutely love Karis, but I appreciated how she set clear boundaries and didn't back down on them. Truman and Ash turned out to be my favorites, I loved the emotional and slower pace their romance worked out, and also really liked the small town feel.
There are lots of plant and botany infodumps, New Orleans haunted history and random facts, dogs, a miniature horse, beekeeping infodumps, found family and queer friendships, and a lot of ideas on how to save a flower shop small business.
CWs - there is a lot of casual drinking and weed usage in the New Orleans FF romance, nothing to excess but it's mentioned during almost all times the heroines are hanging out together. There is also a parent of one of the leads with early dementia, and he takes care of her on his own and talks about his struggles he faces dealing with losing pieces of his mother.
I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
**I reviewed the audiobook of this arc and don't know how to spell Ash or Karis's names besides phonetically in case I completely errored.
Content warnings: homophobia, parent suffering from dementia, cheating (Truman was being cheated on by his ex and he didn't know), drug use, alcohol consumption, toxic parents/family (Greta's family are very co-dependent).
Rep: Greta (MC) is lesbian and Jewish, Truman (MC) is a gay male, Carys (Greta's love interest) is lesbian and fat, Ash (Truman's love interest) is a gay male. Veronica is trans and Black, Helen is non-binary.
Hello new favourite book!!! I read this via audio so there may be typos for the name spelling!
I loved absolutely everything about this book! I haven't savoured a book, not really, in a while, and this one I was savouring because I did not want it to end.
After experiencing some horrific lesbophobia from her horrible sister and inconsiderate mother, Greta decides she's had enough and she needs out of her tiny town. (seriously, this part made my blood boil - fuck heteros so fucking much)
Truman, having just dropped USD$1,700 on a pen (okay, I am a lover of stationery just as much as the next stationery lover but fuck me that is far too expensive for a pen???) for his boyfriend, decides to take it to his house to gift it to him for Christmas before his boyfriend (aptly named Guy) 'goes away' for the break. Cue Truman finding out that Guy has a husband and child.
Ramona, a mutual friend of both Greta and Truman, suggests they house swap for the month of December, and since they both need OUT of their lives/towns, they agree.
Greta gets Truman to take care of her plants and Truman gets Greta to take care of his Great Dane aptly named Horse. We love.
I loved this from start to finish. The narrators were perfect voices for Greta and Truman. The plot was fantastic. There were two sweet as fuck romances and some *chef's kiss* small sex scenes (like 2/5 spicy scale, so very small).
I loved the journey of discovery for both of them - trying to figure out who they are away from their previous environments.
The frank discussions around boundaries, family, friendships, and life were refreshing and so wonderful.
Featuring Truman's bullet journal (we LOVE) and Greta's plants, this book was, legit perfect to me.