When Astra Noel Snow and Jack Clausen meet at a one-of-kind Christmas market, they fall in love, but they must decide if this newfound relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they’re experiencing is just yuletide magic.
With songs like “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday,” and “Why Can’t Every Day Be Like Christmas,” it’s no secret that many people wish that the holiday season would last a bit longer. Amy E. Reichert makes that happen in her new Christmas novel, Once Upon a December. In this unconventional holiday romance, a Christmas alley, Julemarked, defies the conventions of time to travel around the world, attaching itself to holiday markets in various cities and spreading holiday cheer to its patrons. The catch is that Julemarked only exists within the month of December, and after the New Year, it travels through time and finds itself in a new city where it is the start of December all over again.
Jack Clausen works at his family’s bakery, Kringle All the Way, within Julemarked, baking and selling delicious Kringle. Every time the Julemarked docks itself at another Christmas market, he hopes they will end up in Milwaukee, where he has been crushing on one particular patron for years. The only problem is that she forgets their connection each year due to the laws of the Julemarked, which does not allow its visitors to remember it after it disappears.
Astra Noel Snow is Jack’s crush, and she looks forward to visiting the Christmas market year after year. Having recently gone through a nasty divorce and currently sharing custody of her beloved dog with her despicable ex, Astra could use some girl time and holiday cheer. Little does she know that this year’s trip to the Christmas market will be the one that changes everything forever because she and Jack cannot continue to deny the chemistry they share …
I love that Once Upon a December is set against the backdrop of a Christmas market because it creates the perfect atmosphere for a fun and festive holiday read. All of the shops in Julemarked have adorably holly jolly names and really helped get me into the Christmas spirit. I also quite enjoyed learning about the pastry Kringle, having never heard of it before, and was delighted to find some Kringle at my local Aldi while reading this book! (It was just as delicious as this novel made it out to be!)
Once Upon a December is a lighthearted, at times funny, holiday romance. While I did not find Jack and Astra’s basically insta-love relationship to be entirely believable, I still enjoyed imagining that anything is possible with just a little Christmas magic. And speaking of magic, I did have to suspend all disbelief to not overthink this novel’s enchanted time traveling element and ruin the book for myself. It is best to just go with the flow and try NOT to work out all of the hows and the whys because really, you will just end up with a headache if you do.
While Jack was just fine as a main character, I really had a love-hate relationship with Astra. I found it interesting that she was a librarian (my profession), but I honestly did not like her as a person. She is too brash one moment and too meek the next. She resorts to some pretty despicable acts to manipulate her ex, and jumps the gun with Jack on several occasions. She also spends quite a bit of time at work, NOT working, but rather attending to her personal business. Her character did not add to my enjoyment of this book, unfortunately.
In all, Once Upon a December is a spirited, magical holiday read that will give you all of the Christmas feels!
- Brooke, Public Relations Librarian