“He couldn’t help but pay more attention to her. Every time she smiled, that dimple lit up the space around her like a star in the night sky. They saw so many customers in so many different places that they all blended into a general; humanity, so it was rare when someone stuck out as memorable. But now she had his attention.”
Once Upon a December is a magical Christmas story that will fill your heart with holiday cheer.
With a name like Astra Noel Snow, holiday spirit isn’t just a seasonal specialty—it’s a way of life. But after a stinging divorce, Astra’s yearly trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market takes on a whole new meaning. She’s ready to eat, drink, and be merry, especially with the handsome stranger who saves the best kringle for her at his family bakery.
For Jack Clausen, the Julemarked with its snowy lights and charming shops stays the same, while the world outside the joyful street changes, magically leaping from one December to the next every four weeks. He’s never minded living this charmed existence until Astra shows him the life he’s been missing outside of the festive red brick alley.
After a swoon-worthy series of dates, some Yuletide magic, and the unexpected glow of new love, Astra and Jack must decide whether this relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they’re feeling is as ephemeral as marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa.
Just when I think I couldn’t fall more in love with Christmas stories, a book like this comes along and proves me wrong. I have to applaud Amy for coming up with such a fun, charming, and unique Christmas romance story. What makes this book so unique, you ask? Well, it has a time travelling Christmas market in it, yes you read that right, a Christmas market that time travels. How cool is that!! Jack lives in the Julemarked, a time travelling Christmas market that only exists in our world for December. The Julemarked doesn’t pop up at the same Christmas market every year. For example, it may be at the Milwaukee market one year, but it could be at the Paris market the next, and once the market disappears, people forget being there. Amy did a great job with the whole time travelling aspect of her book; she just gave her readers the right amount of detail. When Astra asks many questions about the mechanics of time travelling, Jack just tells her she needs to trust/believe in the magic. Steering her readers to the concept of just trusting and believing in Christmas magic works and fits with this story. By not overloading her readers with too much detail about time travelling, she allowed us to focus on the story and its heartwarming relationships. I also really liked it because I sometimes think as adults, we forget just to trust that the universe/world knows what it’s doing and enjoy those magical moments (without overthinking them).
Astra has four great loves in this story. The first is with Jack, of course, and I will get to him later on. The other three loves are with her best friends Ronnie, Steph, and Cassie. One of the most charming things about rom-coms is the fabulous female friendship often portrayed in them. I really couldn’t get enough of these ladies and the bond that they shared. Their friendship was not perfect; there were ups and downs and periods when they grew apart. But at the end of the day, they knew that they had each other’s backs. Astra’s friendship with her besties plays a big part in her life and her decisions. I really enjoyed how Amy used their friendship to help decide what direction the story would go.
Astra and Jack really have a unique love story. They have had many first meet-cute moments, and I loved them all. These two meet every time the Julemarked is in Milwaukee, and I could just feel the chemistry leap off the pages when they would meet. The only problem is Astra forgets Jack exists when the market disappears. We get to watch their relationship unfold in two different timelines, the present-day one when they finally start to date and the past timeline that jumps to all their past encounters. I really couldn’t get enough of these two. Jack is such a sweetheart, and I just adored him. What I liked most about their love story was not knowing what would happen in the end. I figured they would get their happy ending, but I didn’t know if Astra would stay in the Julemarked or would Jack leave. I was curious about what direction Amy would take in their relationship. Really the whole time-travelling just added such an interesting twist to their romance.
Once Upon a December is the perfect book to read on a snowy Sunday in December.
Thank you, Berkley Publishing, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.