Review by Veronica

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“There was an intensity to his gaze, as though the rest of the room had fallen away, and he was focused solely on her. Yet, it didn’t make her feel uncomfortable. It told her he cared, that what she had to say mattered. She hadn’t known it was possible for one’s eyes to do that kind of talking.” 

Emma Lynden’s debut novel The Holiday Plan has oodles of charm and so much heart.

Native New Yorker and author Verona Scott is battling heartbreak, both personally and professionally. Coming off a disastrous split with her ex, she’s struggling for inspiration to write her next book. And she’s lost without her favorite Aunt Theoni’s wisdom and guidance.

Hoping for a fresh start and to avoid the holiday completely, she’s planned a Valentine’s detox: a luxurious trip alone to the historic near the adorably quaint town of Camelot Creek, tucked into a picturesque valley in the Adirondacks.

But escaping the heart-shaped balloons and red roses isn’t as easy as she thought.

This won’t be the restful retreat she’d imagined. Instead, she’s just walked into one of the biggest matchmaking events of the year. Not to mention, the incredibly attractive single dad and dating coach Troy Turner is heading the whole thing up, and he’s on a mission to include Verona in the festivities.

Troy is in the midst of a professional crisis of his own. After a bit of unfounded bad press, the very last thing he needs is a guest to cast doubt in the minds of his attendees.

Will Troy change Verona’s mind about the most romantic day of the year? Just when sparks begin to fly, an unexpected visitor checks into the castle, stirring up the past. No matter what, for Verona, Valentine’s Day is the day where everything changes.

Okay, so get ready for some major gushing on my part. The Holiday Plan is the book of my wintery romantic dreams. There is just so much happiness, love, and positivity in its pages, that left me feeling so oh so happy and dreaming of happily ever afters.

There is a real Hallmark feel to this book, which I adored. I must admit I am going through some Christmas Hallmark withdrawals right now. So this book was just what I was looking for. The flow and pacing were just perfect, and Emma added enough twists and turns to the story to keep me interested and wanting more. There is this message of the importance of forgiveness and opening one’s heart to the possibility of love. There were plenty of opportunities for Verona and Troy to act in vengeful and hateful ways towards each other and others in their lives. But they didn’t. Their willingness to listen to each other and put the work into trying to understand where the other person was coming from really won me over. There were no underhanded tactics or hateful words in this book; it was just honest to goodness positivity that these characters embodied.

The Courtington Castle Hotel and its surrounding area is the winter vacation I have always wanted to take. Emma’s vibrant and lush descriptions of this, dare I say, magical castle had me closing my eyes and imagining walking around this enchanted place. I felt like I was there. I just want to pack my bags and go to this castle and read in front of a big fireplace while looking out a window at a snowy mountain.

Verona and Troy were sweet and just so lovely. If you are a fan of forced proximity and a clean slow-burn love, you will fall head over snow boots for their love story. There were plenty of moments between these two that had my heart going pitter-patter and just waiting for that moment when they would finally kiss. I could see the sparks and chemistry between these two right from the beginning.  

On a side note, Troy’s daughter Emily was utterly adorable! I just wanted to reach into the pages and give her a big hug and just spend time with her. There is something so magical about spending time with a child with a wonderful and vibrant imagination.

The Holiday Plan is a delightful and charming read, and I am so excited to see what Emma writes next.

Thank you Harpeth Road for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.