REVIEW: LOVE ALWAYS, CHRISTMAS by KAREN SCHALER

Thank you to the publisher for making an ARC available to me via Netgalley!

Libby is a social media manager attempting to keep her late parents house in her family, but is struggling to come up with the funds to do so. Trying to busy herself so she can ignore the sadness that comes with a Christmas season without loved ones, she’s working on her first big project since starting her business, featuring “Christmas Kitty” – a cat known for going viral with Christmas content. In the process of making this video for a company, she finds an unopened letter from a mystery friend of her late mother, and decides to travel to the nearby small town that shows on the return address to meet this friend.

This was the third book I’ve read by Karen Schaler, and sadly, my least favorite for a lot of reasons. For starters, here is what I DID enjoy about this book:

  1. I loved all the Christmas vibes. If you want a book heavy on the Christmas content (with everything from Christmas carol cell phone ringtones to a dog named Rudolph), then this one will hit the spot.
  2. The small town of Holly Peak seemed picturesque, just like in a quintessential Hallmark movie.
  3. The dog, Rudolph, seemed like a great pal to have.

Unfortunately, the joy of Christmas writing was not enough to carry this story for me.

For starters, the dialogue in this book was absolutely brutal and redundant to read. I get that Karen Schaler is known for writing Hallmark movies and that those are known for cheesy, over the top sugary sweet speaking characters, but this was absolutely excessive. The back and forth between Libby and Adam would go on for full pages with nothing accomplished. In one instance, they told each other “Thank you!” back and forth (for the same thing) for 6 paragraphs. SIX. PARAGRAPHS. Again, I understand that these are supposed to be unrealistically nice characters, but this was painful. I was so bored that my eyeballs glazed over. I think what Schaler was trying to write as “banter” just read as bad conversation for me.

The romance in this book was such a slow burn that I gave up hope. I thought they were going to be just friends. But it’s Hallmark-y, so certainly the two main people are going to get together, right? It took far too long and was SO awkward getting there. The flirting reminded me of conversations I had with my middle school crushes.

Libby’s job as a social media manager/entrepreneur could’ve been presented in a really cool way, but instead, it fell absolutely flat. Almost all references to social media were obnoxiously incorrect to the point that I wanted to throw my kindle across the room. The amount of times she talked about how important hashtags are had my eye muscles strained from how far my eyeballs rolled into the back of my head. It felt like her entire career was riding on hashtags and that she really thought she could save a company from doom with the perfect one. Maybe I’m jaded after spending 4 years reviewing books on IG, but if social media is going to be talked about in a book, this was not the way to do it.

And lastly – the Christmas themed pasta mentioned was the final straw for me. Broccoli in red sauce? I’m done.

Perhaps I’m just not the target audience as someone who prefers books to be more realistic, but I like to think that I’m relatively decent at suspending any expectations that this style of novel is supposed to be believable. All in all, this totally missed the mark, and I can only hope my next Christmas read in 2022 is a better fit for my tastes.

Published by jennastopreading

I read a lot of books. Find me on Instagram @jennastopreading.

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