My name is Kimberly and I'm the reader/reviewer behind Wit and Sin. Wit and Sin is a website that provides honest reviews and publicity. I primarily read and review Romance titles, but I also review Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult, Mystery, and Non-Fiction titles. In addition to Wit and Sin, I am a reviewer for Joyfully Reviewed (pen name: Shayna) and Romance Junkies (pen name: Lily).
Reviewed for Wit and Sin
You can’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s definitely the case for Holiday by Candlelight. While the couple embracing and lighting the menorah on the cover (not to mention the book blurb) might indicate a warm Hanukkah romance in the vein of the thousands of Christmas romances out there, it honestly has nothing to do with the holiday. Caleb, the Jewish hero of the story, is either an observant Jew or a bacon-loving nonobservant Jew. Either one or somewhere in between would be all well and good by me – how someone does or doesn’t practice their faith or incorporate their religion’s culture into their lives varies from person to person – but I wish it had been consistent for the length of the story. It felt like author Laurel Greer Googled some key words related to Judaism (and Hanukkah in particular) and then inserted them randomly in a few spots without any follow through. And presto! Diversity!
Not so much.
False advertising and the half-baked way Ms. Greer treats Judaism aside, Holiday by Candlelight had its ups and downs. Caleb was a top surgeon whose career came to a screeching halt when he was trapped in an avalanche and his hand was crushed. Caleb can’t perform surgery anymore and on top of that he has severe PTSD. Moving to Sutter Creek, Montana was supposed to help him move forward. But falling for Garnet James, a woman as adventurous and risk-loving as Caleb used to be, triggers him. Garnet has lost herself trying to fit in with others before and she’s determined not to compromise what she wants ever again. So her falling for the risk-adverse Caleb is an equally terrible idea. Of course, mutual attraction has other plans for them…
Caleb is an interesting and well-drawn hero. The avalanche, how it shaped him, and how he works through his fears and PTSD are compelling and make it easy to root for him. He was truly the big draw in this book and kept me turning the pages. Garnet…is not as appealing. She has potential, and I understood why she didn’t want to lose herself in a relationship, but for much of the book she comes across as selfish. A relationship isn’t balanced when only one person is compromising and given how Caleb struggles to work through his fears for her as well as himself, it was frustrating that Garnet spent so much of the book refusing to look beyond her own wants. Eventually she becomes a character I could enjoy more, but it takes most of the book. The romance between them was lacking in chemistry, which was a huge letdown. I really wished I could feel the pull between them, but everything about their supposed attraction felt flat. I was much more interested in the dynamics between side characters, past and possibly future Sutter Creek, Montana heroes and heroines.
Holiday by Candlelight isn’t a bad book, per se. There is simply a lot of potential to the characters and the story that goes unfulfilled. The story did finish strong, which was nice and left me with enough of a warm and fuzzy feeling to bump up the rating. Perhaps if it had had more of that energy throughout it would have been a more exciting tale. If you’re looking for a good interracial, interfaith, or Hanukkah-specific romance, this isn’t the book for you. But if you simply want a wintertime romance with skiing, Search and Rescue, an interesting hero, and guaranteed happily ever after, Holiday by Candlelight checks those boxes.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.