Spotlight Review: ONCE UPON A DECEMBER by Amy E. Reichert

From the publisher:

A one-of-a-kind Christmas market offers holiday magic in this new romance from the author of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club.

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.

“An absolutely perfect holiday hug.”–New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren

“Reichert’s cozy romance is a nice blend of a sweet love story and Christmas magic.”–Library Journal

Reichert doesn’t put out a lot of books, but I’ve read most of them and loved them all. This one was a bit different for her; this is a Christmas romance with some magical realism that always works around the holidays.

Jack Clausen lives in the Julemarked, a traveling Christmas market that is somewhat other worldly. The market arrives every December 1, and disappears on Christmas eve. It is in an alley, an offshoot of an existing Christmas market, but one of the reasons it’s magical has to do with the fact that people don’t remember anything specific about it, and don’t even notice when it disappears. Jack, along with his brothers, is a baker and they work in the Kringle shop. When Astra and her friends come in, there is a definite attraction between Jack and Astra. She gives him a hat; he gives her a tiny Christmas gnome that he hand carves. They meet up every year or two, and slowly she starts forming some memories.

When they meet, Astra has been through a rough divorce with a controlling husband who almost cost her her friendships. Now that she has her best friends back, Astra is so much happier. She and Jack get to know one another as the market appears every so often – Jack has all his memories of their meetings, but it is a much slower process for Astra. Only those who could live in the Julemarked are able to remember, but Jack makes it clear that he won’t leave, so it is up to Astra to figure out whether or not they have a future.

This is a charming, sweet love story with more than a touch of magical realism, but if you can’t accept magic at Christmas, when can you? This book is sure to put you in the holiday mood (and I’m off to Trader Joe’s to see what kind of Kringles they have now!) I loved this book.

Bonus: Reichert provided this fabulous holiday playlist. Scan the QR code to play it on Apple Music or recreate it on your own.

10/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONCE UPON A DECEMBER by Amy E. Reichert. Berkley (October 4, 2022). ISBN:  978-0593197790. 336p.




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