Reviewed by Melissa Suggitt
An enchanting novella transporting you to a bygone era, where love and laughter are the true gifts of the holiday season.
This charming, heartwarming romance is about as cozy as the holidays. Set in 1942, the story revolves around Stella, an exceptional and endearing woman who holds the prestigious title of the first-ever Head of Holidays at Hanover’s Department Store.
However, Stella’s holiday cheer takes an unexpected turn when her window designer Sal vanishes at the eleventh hour. It is this crisis that sets the stage for a captivating narrative, as Stella embarks on a journey of love, self-discovery, and the importance of following your heart.
As she sets off on the frantic task of bringing Sal’s window design sketches to life, and with the big unveiling fast approaching, the pressure is on to create a captivating display that will dazzle customers and ignite the festive spirit…and to ensure she doesn’t get fired.
In this moment of chaos, Stella turns to her colleagues at the store for help; a ragtag crew who earnestly want to see Stella succeed. Among them is Hector, Head of PR and Stella’s closest friend. What unfolds is a tale of teamwork, camaraderie, and the blossoming of a sweet romance.
As readers delve into Stella’s world and the nostalgic surroundings of a bygone department store era, her budding romance with Hector is a highlight that evokes a sense of warmth and wistfulness. It’s a love story that feels as comforting as sipping a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day, complete with extra marshmallows. Jennifer Joy’s writing strikes a harmonious balance, infusing sweetness into her words without tipping into cliche territory. Instead, it reminds us of the butterflies and excitement that accompany falling in love for the first time. It helps that Stella consistently refers to Hector’s likeness to Cary Grant—I mean who doesn’t swoon at Cary Grant?
The writing style is a testament to the author’s skill. There’s a lightness to it, along with grounded and naturally flowing dialogue, that helps build realistic chemistry between Stella and Hector; the characters and their tension come alive along with the window displays. Readers will find themselves easily immersed in the story, feeling as though they are right there within their holiday escapades.
As you turn the final page, you’ll find yourself wishing for an extended stay with Stella and her journey. Considering the story is set in the 1940s, Stella’s sense of strength, resilience, and confidence come across as rather modern, making her even more likable for a 2023 audience. You’ll find yourself cheering on her success from the start and falling in love along with her.
26 Ways to Come Home for the Holidays is a book that will resonate with fans of romantic comedies and those who revel in the joy of happiness. It encapsulates the very essence of the holiday season and is a reminder that sometimes the most important thing in life is to follow your heart and to trust in yourself.
Put away your copy of Love, Actually this year and pivot to this story instead. This novella is a heartwarming gift to readers, wrapped in the festive spirit of the holidays.
Thank you for reading Melissa Suggitt’s book review of 26 Ways to Come Home for the Holidays by Jennifer Joy! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.