Goodreads: The Plight Before Christmas
Published: 19 December 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Clark Griswold was onto something, at least with his annual holiday meltdown. And since the last three weeks of my life have been riddled with humbug—another breakup, a broken toe, an office promotion I deserved and didn’t get—I’m not at all in the mood to celebrate nor have the happ, happ, happiest Christmas EVER.
When Mom insisted that we all gather at my Grandparent’s ancient cabin for an old school family Christmas, I fully intended to get into the holiday spirit with the help of the three wise men, Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam. But those boys did absolutely nothing to offset the shock or temper the sting of seeing my EX on our doorstep the first day of our holiday soiree.
Apparently, Santa missed the memo, and this elf is pissed.
Stuck for a week with the man who obliterated my heart nearly two decades ago, I did the only thing I could do and put on my game face, thankful for the home advantage.
I knew better than to drink that last cup of eggnog.
I knew better than to get tongue tangled beneath the mistletoe with the only man to ever break my heart.
I knew better than to sleep with Satan’s wingman on the eve of the Lord’s birthday.
I could blame the nog. I could blame the deceitful light blue eyes, thick, angelic hair, and panty evaporating smirk…but mostly, I blame Eli because he always knew exactly which of my buttons to push.
I foolishly thought a family Christmas filled with nostalgia was going to turn my inner Scrooge around, but this year’s festivities went up in flames. Leave it to the ghost of my Christmas past to be the one to light the match.
Fa la la la la, la FML.
TL;DR: It admittedly took me a little while to get into the story but I ended up really enjoying the Christmas vibes, the Collins family, the sibling relationships, and following along with Eli and Whitney’s second-chance romance after a gut-wrenching heartbreak and 17 years apart. This ended up being a bit more serious than I expected (CW/TW below) but the story was well-balanced with light-hearted moments of cheeky banter, swoony romance and steamy moments.
CW/TW: recounting of terminal illness (cancer), parental death, anxiety
I’m so glad that Deanna recommend this book to me cos otherwise I would’ve missed out on a fun holiday romance by an author that I’ve always enjoyed!
When we’re introduced to Whitney, she’s having the worst time of it and things only get worse when she gets home for the holidays and finds out The Ex—her first love and the one who broke her heart in a big way—is joining them. I have to admit to being a little on the fence about Whitney at first because she came across as a little immature and I was (honestly) surprised to learn she was in her late 30s as I would’ve pegged her for mid-20s at most. However, her character really grew on me and there were some real “oh shit” moments when I thought: Whitney is basically me? 😂 She’s only a few years older than me but I related so much to a lot of what she experienced and so her arc really hit close to home for me? I loved how she kept pushing on and doing her best despite the setbacks and curveballs life threw her way. She’s a tough cookie and her positive mentality was admirable!
Eli was a bit of an enigma. We gather from flashbacks that he has always been quiet and an introvert who gets bad anxiety attacks in crowded places with loud noises. He’s also secretive and doesn’t open up about his past or the issues that very clearly plague him and causes him to shut people out. I’m so glad that we also get his perspective in this story and the more we learn about him and his past, the more my heart really broke for him. Oof, there were some fairly angsty moments that really had me teary-eyed and gritting my teeth cos I really felt their pain! 🥺 And their romance was the perfect slow burn and there were some pretty swoontastic moments that had my heart happy sighing. Their chemistry was undeniable and whoo, the sexual tension that built up between them was absolutely explosive and when they finally get together those steamy scenes just about set my Kindle on fire! 🥵
Aside from Eli and Whitney’s romance, we also get a bit of relationship depth between Whitney’s siblings and their partners. I appreciated that all of these couples were more mature (in their late 30s, and 40s) and that Stewart presented issues that came up during marriage for a few marriage-in-crisis moments. The characters and their marriage crises felt fully fleshed out even though they were happening on the side and I felt just as invested in these couples finding their happiness again as I was in the main romance. The Collins family was also another added layer of awesome to the story! I loved following along with their holiday traditions and the hilarious shenanigans that they’d get up (especially the dad lol)! Surprisingly (for me), little baby Pey Pey was one of my favourite characters as his baby cuteness never failed to crack me up! 😂 He really had me rolling.
Overall, I really enjoyed this holiday romance. Eli and Whitney went through one hell of a heart-wringing romance but I loved every minute of their journey and they more than deserved their HEA! If you’re looking for a romance set around the holidays that will tug on your heartstrings and fill you up with happiness and hope, definitely give this one a try!
Have you read The Plight Before Christmas or is it on your TBR?