Timy reviews Driving Home for Christmas, a Contemporary Romance novel by Joanna Bolouri.
I received an eARC from Quercus Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
|Series: –||Genre: Romance, Contemporary|
|Date of Publishing: October 1st, 2022||Trigger Warnings: –|
|Page count: 386||Publisher: Quercus Books|
Two broken hearts.
One hell of a journey.
Driving home marks the start of the holidays for Kate and Ed, who have made this journey every Christmas of their ten-year long relationship. Normally the seasonal hits blare from the car stereo, and they are guaranteed to be wearing ridiculous jumpers in anticipation, but this year a frosty silence fills the car…
A massive argument leads to the immediate collapse of their relationship. But the show must go on, so they decide to brave their families together one last time.
With three Christmases to celebrate, an old flame waiting under the mistletoe and a shed load of expectation around their future together, this most wonderful time of year is anything but. There will be turkey, tiffs and tantrums galore, but it’s sure to be a Christmas they’ll never forget.
A hilarious and heartfelt seasonal romance from the author of All I Want for Christmas. Perfect for fans of Sophie Cousens and Lucy Vine.
“‘Not re ally,’ he says. ‘Agents, lawyers, hairdressers…they all run in the same circles. London’s really not that big. ‘
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more inaccurate statement in my life.”
I decided to pick Private Parts by Halestorm feat. James Michael because 1) I didn’t want a Christmas song, 2) nor a typical love song and 3) I think it fits well with Ed and Kate’s story.
I picked up Driving Home for Christmas on NetGalley because I wanted to read something to get in the holiday mood. But also something not too saccharin sweet. What caught my eye was the cover and the blurb sounded promising too. Not your typical, meet-cute rom-com. If I have to compare it to a movie, then I’d say Four Christmases, although it’s a very broad comparison. The starter situation is similar – a couple is going back to their hometown to spend Christmas with their families while working through their own issues. I didn’t love this book as I hoped, but it definitely was a nice palate cleanser and a different kind of holiday read from what you usually get at this time of the year.
Kate and Ed are in their late twenties, living in London, with different dreams and personalities but they seem to complement each other. They’ve been together for 15 years since their teens so they know each other pretty well. Good or bad. And I definitely liked to read a romance novel with an already well-established couple. Including snippets from their past worked quite well to show us that they are well-established indeed, although there should have been more, especially set around Christmas. Even though Driving Home for Christmas is mostly set around that particular holiday, it gets featured very little. I mean, apart from a couple of family feast scenes and mentioning of present swapping, it really didn’t bring through the christmassy feel for me. Then again, that might have been a deliberate choice.
The book starts with Kate and Ed having a fight on their way home, which eventually leads to a tough decision and to both of them having no holiday cheer at all. Understandably so. Although they try to hide it from their families, under the surface they are both trying to process their feelings and figure out their own lives. Neither Kate nor Ed did anything for me as characters – if anything they were slightly annoying, especially Kate. Although I could sympathize with her about not wanting to have kids or a marriage when everyone else was trying to pressure her on those points. I, however, did love some of the side characters, namely Gubba, Kate’s grandmother. A sassy old lady who has a mouth on her and some sharp eyes when it comes to her family. She definitely was the highlight of the book whenever she appeared. And usually, those were the only somewhat funny moments too. Driving Home for Christmas isn’t a comedy as much as a portrayal of a relationship on the rocks and how two people who love each other can overcome their own frustrations and problems.
I liked that the book isn’t set over a couple of days but a couple of months, not trying to solve the couple’s life crisis in a short amount of time, but showing that it might take a long time to figure out the root of the problems and then working on fixing them. It won’t happen from one day to the next. That said, it also felt like the book only scratched the surface and didn’t dare go deeper. Failing at making me connect with the story on an emotional level. It’s a well-written book and it’s super easy to read, so if you are looking for something light, not an overly cheery holiday read, then Driving Home for Christmas is a good choice to spend your afternoon with.
Great review, Timy! Sorry to hear that this didn’t end up being what you wanted. I’m always wary of books that claim to be set during the holiday but then there’s little to make it feel festive or Christmassy/holiday-ish. I do love a sassy mouthed grandparent figure in these types of books though 😊
Thanks Dini! Sassy mouthed grandparent figures are the best 😀 My favorite is Lhiewyn from the Amra Thetys series by Michael McClung.