Are you looking for your next winter read? I enjoyed The Holiday Swap so much, I read it in one day!
The Holiday Swap is a fun and light-hearted holiday romance by duo Karma Brown and Marissa Stapley, who both have successful independent careers as writers.
The Holiday Swap features twins Cass and Charlie, two women with exceptional culinary talents in their late twenties who know each other like the back of their hands – you know, the twin thing – but do they really?
Charlie left hometown Starlight Peak to seek more global opportunities, eventually becoming the “sweet” co-host on a hip cooking show, Sweet & Salty. While glamorous on the outside – famous, beautiful clothes, ocean-proximate apartment – her life is made more difficult by an obnoxious cohost, the expectation to make up for said cohost’s behavior, and the hidden pain of missing family.
Cass works at her family’s baker in Starlight Peak. Believing that her role has always been to stay behind and take over the family business, Cass hasn’t given herself permission to go after more than what she’s always had in her quaint hometown. When she breaks up with her fiancee – who she has been with since high school – she is desperate to get some distance from him and Starlight Peak.
When Charlie suffers a mishap at work, she calls on Cass for assistance. The solution?
Cass, recognizing her chance at escape, accepts.
In their temporary lives, Cass and Charlie adjust to their new schedules, people they knew individually but not collectively, and intimate feelings for two – in my opinion – very ideal-sounded men.
Miguel is a physician assistant in L.A. He treats Charlie’s concussion, then bumps into Cass at a coffeeshop after Cass has begun her pretend life as Charlie.
Jake is a firefighter back in Starlight Peak. He and Cass were always just friends, so the sudden feelings he and Charlie have for each other are no doubt confusing for him since he believes Charlie is Cass.
Being identical twins, it would take someone exceptionally close to the two women to tell them apart. Even Cass’s long-time ex-boyfriend didn’t know that Cass is actually Charlie. The only person who knows from the beginning is Priya, Charlie’s Sweet & Salty makeup artist and hype woman.
The supporting characters are more than just afterthoughts, and I was happy to see that some of them had their own character development – and in one case, that they got what was coming to them.
One effective choice Maggie Knox made to keep the clutter of characters down is that Cass’ and Charlie’s parents are on vacation in Cabo, so throughout the book we see their text messages but not a whole lot more. The parents do not know about the twins’ swap.
By the end of the book, I realized I was taken aback by the lack of children among the main characters. One of Miguel’s siblings has children, and the other has one on the way. I’m still not exactly sure why this made it feel like there was something missing. I am thinking it’s because in a lot of Hallmark-style stories we always see the main character fall in love with someone who has children, or someone who is good with children – but as a single parent, I would love to see more romances where the main character has children. This is not a criticism of this book, but just something I happened to think about while reading.
If you have recommendations for books with single parent main characters, drop a comment with the title! One I read recently was Brave Love by A. M. Kusi – the male MC is a single father. Another on my TBR is The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren.
Speaking of Christina Lauren, if you liked this review, check out my post for In a Holidaze, another holiday romcom written by a female duo.
Maggie Knox has another holiday romance in the works – All I Want for Christmas, release date TBD – which is about two enemy performers on a reality singing competition who are forced to pretend to be a couple.