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THE HOLIDAY SWAP by Maggie Knox – double review!

A feel-good, holiday-themed romantic comedy about identical twins who switch lives in the days leading up to Christmas–perfect for fans of Christina Lauren’s In a Holidaze and Josie Silver’s One Day in December.

All they want for Christmas is a different life.

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell–both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over. 

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician’s assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

Title : The Holiday Swap
Author : Maggie Knox
Format : physical
Page Count : 351
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Viking
Release Date : October 5, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ / ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 2 star review

Definitely don’t take my rating to heart if this sounds like your thing. This just isn’t my cup of tea.

Right off the bat, I want to say, if you’re a fan of the seasonal Netflix and or Hallmark channel holiday movies? You’ll probably love this. Enjoy those Vanessa Hudgens twin/look-alike/whatever swap concept films? This is for you. Added bonus if you also love The Great British Bake Off. And yet another bonus is this also manages to sprinkle in a small-town setting and vibe. The Holiday Swap is doing pretty much everything, and anything, it possibly can. Sadly, though, this did not make my Grinchy heart grows any sizes bigger.

If you can suspend some disbelief that grown humans (even identical ones!) would think it likely they can switch lives for the course of the week when disaster strikes (I’m not even going to touch on the recklessness of not taking a concussion seriously.. I’m not.. nope), and have no issue adjusting despite the very different lives they lead, you can probably get on with this more than I could (thankfully they do later address the folly in thinking this would be possible, but..). Added tension and hijinks ensue when they immediately stumble in their ability to adjust to their new surroundings and are unable to get ahold of each other.. and I mean, other than dealing with frustrating co-hosts of a reality tv show and an ex who can’t get the hint, that’s as high stakes as it gets. This isn’t looking to stress you out by any means, it really is here for a good wholesome holiday time.

Beyond not getting on with most of the aforementioned tropes and premise, though, I’ll admit there was not enough to differentiate the twins in personality or narrative voice. One is supposed to be more traditionally small town and perhaps a little bit of a pushover/people pleaser (though we only see that particular aspect when she’s dealing with her ex which, ugh, I disliked that whole plot point) and the other is glamourous and successful and take-charge.. except, again, with maybe two exceptions we don’t see this really come to the fore. They were both into baking, they were both workaholics, making them well.. sorry for the pun, but, identical; circumstances notwithstanding.

Naturally, each sister has a romance that is initially complicated by the existing way the love interests were known to the other sister, but, surprising no one, it all works out happily ever after in the end.

The Holiday Swap has the excitement, and conflict, of the GBBO-like competition, a potential baked-goods chain looking to elbow in on the small town bakery’s turf, in addition to head injuries and some ruined baking, and, of course, the sisters have to come clean just in time for Christmas. Will a miracle prevail and they will be forgiven for their trickery? Will they each get what they set out to achieve with their swap.. and maybe learn something about themselves along the way? I’m sure you know the answer to those questions but, either way, I won’t ruin the surprise.

This has so much that I know so many people will love. And I hope you do. But if, like me, this isn’t quite your jam? I don’t think this will be memorable or enough of a stand-out to change your mind about the premise. It did make me hungry, though.

** I received an unsolicited finished copy from the publisher (thank you!) and this in no way influenced my review. **

Micky’s 2.75 star review

At least it wasn’t Freaky Friday
Silly swaps
Annoying lies

I just didn’t gel with this popular Christmas read. I did read after Christmas but it didn’t feel that Christmassy, so I don’t think that was the problem. I don’t like it when plots are built on lies that escalate and that was basically the whole premise.

The highlight of the story was both the love interest for the twins. Miguel and Jake were pretty great guys with no facade and I appreciate a good guy trope. Cass and Charlie irritated me and I suppose Charlie more than Cass as the instigator.

It was an easy read at first but it did require some pushing later on with a little bit of skimming.

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