Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
A Bookshop Christmas by Rachel Burton – Book Details
TITLE – A Bookshop Christmas
AUTHOR – Rachel Burton
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2021
PAGE COUNT – 416
MY RATING – 3.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.00 of 5
What It Is About
“Have you run mad, Meg? You’ve avoided men for as long as I’ve known you and now, when you finally speak to one, it’s the man you described as the rudest person on earth.”
Three and a half years after her husband’s death, Megan Taylor is still hiding in her family’s bookshop, letting the life pass her by. And she has a lot on her mind, trying to save the bookshop that is not doing well. But a prize-winning author might be able to change that, even if he is the rudest person in the world.
What starts as an equivalent of pulling pigtails on a playground slowly evolves into a hesitant friendship and soon neither Megan nor Xander can deny the chemistry between them. But for people who got burned once, falling in love again might be the scariest thing in the world.
Especially when one of them is hiding something. And both of them are struggling with trusting each other completely.
A Bookshop Christmas by Rachel Burton – My Review
“Ah Christmas,” Mum said with a chuckle. “Tis the season to be grumpy.”
I was in such a mood for Christmassy books. A Bookshop Christmas’ blurb mentioned snowstorm, and being snowbound is one of my favorite tropes. A good chunk of the book was set in a bookshop of all places. And there’s a cute dog on the cover.
Can you get sick from too many sweet things at once? Who cares?
I saw this book and I just knew I had to read it. I loved the setting. For one, it was set in York, which – I mean, if you’ve never been there, google the photos. If there’s ever been a perfect, picturesque place to set a Christmas story in…
And then, not only was the Christmas-decorated bookshop such a good choice in terms of adding the holiday vibes, but it was also nicely incorporated into the plot and added another layer to the story.
Speaking of layers, I didn’t realize that grief would be a significant part of the story. Megan was a young widow, and she really struggled to move on with her life. The story ended up being more emotional than I thought it would be and it added some depth without making the book dark and depressing.
“But it wasn’t enough and I’d always known it wouldn’t be enough because, as I’d finally admitted, my heart wasn’t in it and never had been.”
Some things were done so well. The important life lessons and Megan learning to follow her heart. Making a difference between things that were worth the fight and those that were just holding her back… Sometimes giving up on something is the best thing you can do.
But then, we also got the fun and playful side of it all. A lot of it came through the banter between the members of the Die-Hard Romantics book club.
Discussing famous romance novels. Comparing people with some characters. Plus the playlist of Megan and Xander’s music and favorite books addition we got at the end… It all added a lighter note and turned this book into a little event for me.
“I suppose we’re all snobbish in our own ways when it comes to reading.”
Because of all of that, I really wanted to love this book. But for some reason I couldn’t completely connect with it. It wasn’t bad or anything, the premise was so good and the writing was easy to fly through.
But it didn’t give me all the feelings. And there were some small things (but so many of them) that kept pulling me out of the story.
The truth is – I didn’t like the romance. You know how it goes with love stories – sometimes you click with them, sometimes you don’t. When you do, you are willing to overlook a whole array of technical issues. When you don’t, it doesn’t matter if everything else was great.
There was something… not quite natural in the way Megan and Xander interacted and fell for each other. At least that’s how it felt to me. I’m not sure I believed their story, and that’s half the chemistry gone right there.
“I don’t see a problem, love,” Mum said. “You’re snowed in at a beautiful hotel with a handsome man. What more could anyone want?”
A Bookshop Christmas was one of those part insta love, part enemies to lovers books that don’t really commit to either trope and leave you feeling a bit meh about the whole thing.
Things got better around 30% into the book, when the guy started acting much more civilized. And when Megan finally stopped asking herself (repeatedly) what was it that she was feeling and kind of dropped the should-I-should-I-not inner monologues.
“I thought it would be me who got scared, me who pulled away. I’d assumed Xander was the stronger one of us, but why should he be?”
But I still didn’t like Xander. There are no many things I love more in romance books than a grumpy love interest. But there’s good grumpy and bad grumpy, and this one was not exactly great.
He was making fuss over things that were utterly unimportant. He complained to complain, leaving an impression not of a grumpy, brooding guy but of a spoiled child.
And that’s the thing about romances. Everything else can be perfect, but if the main guy doesn’t make you swoon even just a little, all those other great things just fade and crumble in the background.
“It’s scary and raw and when something goes wrong it’s tempting to just disappear back into your foxhole.”
So yeah – this book didn’t give me the vibes and feels I was looking for, but those things can be highly subjective. That is exactly why I’m sure there will be a lot of people who will absolutely fall in love with A Bookshop Christmas.
This book had a lot going for it. It just wasn’t for me.