Saturday, July 1, 2023

Holly vs. Mr. Ivy by Amanda P. Jones: Book Review

  *Book received for consideration. All thoughts are my own.

I've never wanted to break the no-dating coworkers rule... until now.


As a caregiver to Mom and an executive chef in a kitchen full of disrespectful staff, I'm wilting like day-old butter leaf lettuce. I’d quit, except my job is the only thing keeping a roof over our heads. When my boss forces me to work with the new, annoyingly handsome and all too cheerful general manager to increase profits by New Year’s, I'm left with no choice but to play nice. Except all my efforts to maintain a steady paycheck have backfired because behind Rhett's nauseatingly jolly facade is a man who is making me question whether I should risk getting fired for breaking the number one rule at the restaurant—never, under any conditions, date a coworker.


After my ex fled faster than Santa’s sleigh because she thought I was “too mentally broken,” I decided to save someone else the heartache and keep my dating nonexistent—a feat I successfully managed for a year. Then I met Holly at my uncle’s restaurant. There’s something about the grumpy chef that takes down my walls and makes me think love could actually happen. Dating Holly means I risk getting her fired and ruining my only chance at getting promoted to regional manager. How do I choose between my dreams and the woman I love?

Holly vs. Mr. Ivy is a sweet with a sprinkling of heat, closed-door romantic comedy. All books in the Christmas in Connecticut series can be read as stand alones, but they are best enjoyed in order.

When not reading or writing (which is rare), Amanda loves to travel, camp, spend time with family and friends, and eat chocolate chip cookies—or any other excuse she can come up with to avoid doing housework. She lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three children.

It does not matter what time of the year it is, if you put a Christmas book in front of me, I'm absolutely going to read it right away. Seriously, I just love a holiday romance and having a little extra Christmas cheer anytime throughout the year is never a bad thing. Admittedly, I may be a little Christmas obsessed anyway... but even if that's not typically your thing, don't let the cover and title of Holly Vs. Mr. Ivy fool you into thinking this is strictly a holiday read. There are definitely some great holiday centered moments...and lots of great use of mistletoe by Holly and Rhett... but they don't start until over halfway through the story. Even at that point, only a small part of the story actually continues during the holiday season. It was just enough to make my Mrs. Claus heart happy... but not enough to be off putting to any Scrooges who might happen to pick it up! 

It may have been the adorable cover and title that drew me in, but it was most certainly the story that kept me reading on and unable to put it down. This book had such a good blend of both the swoon-worthy moments (oh, those kisses!!) and the laughable ones that I love in a romantic comedy... but it is also balanced with some really tough real life struggles as well. Holly is a caretaker for her mother who is battling cancer. Rhett struggles with anxiety and depression throughout the story. There is also a brief mention (no details) of a past sexual assault. These were all handled with both grace and honesty. As someone who likewise struggles with both anxiety and depression, along with some other mental health issues, I very much appreciated how Rhett's story was told. It let readers into this aspect of mental illness---where things like cleaning and taking care of yourself are often an overwhelming struggle--- without sugar coating or judgement. It also highlighted a bit about the struggles that it can bring to a relationship too. Yes, I loved the romance and the banter... but it is those real, vulnerable moments that are going to make this a story that will stick with me after 'the end'. 

Holly Vs. Mr. Ivy is the third book in the Christmas in Connecticut series. Each book can be read as a standalone. I had not yet read the previous books in the series and was able to enjoy this one with no problem. That said, it does seem like perhaps there is some timeline overlap with this one and the previous book in the series, and the characters from that one do make an appearance so it still might be best to read in order to avoid any potential spoilers. 

Whether you are looking for a holiday read or just a great RomCom in general, this is certainly one not to be missed any time of the year! 


Post a Comment

"Pleasant words are as a honeycomb: sweet to the soul and health to the bones." Proverbs 16:24