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In a Holidaze

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About The Book

This instant New York Times bestseller from Christina Lauren will wrap you “in its cozy, jolly embrace like a beloved holiday sweater” (Entertainment Weekly) as Maelyn Jones discovers what happens when Christmas wishes comes true.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will spend at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech, metal collides, and everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

“Take one lovably flawed heroine, add a doting boy-next-door hero, and sprinkle in a cozy family holiday, and you have the recipe for a delicious time-looping romantic comedy” (Library Journal, starred review) that will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

Excerpt

Chapter One

chapter one
DECEMBER 26

Call me harlot. Call me impulsive. Call me hungover.

No one ever has before, but someone absolutely should this morning. Last night was a disaster.

As quietly as I can, I slip out of the bottom bunk and tiptoe across the freezing floor to the stairs. My heart is beating so hard I wonder if it’s audible outside of my body. The last thing I want is to wake Theo and have to look him in the eye before my brain is warmed up and my thoughts are cohesive.

The second step from the bottom always creaks like something out of a haunted house; it’s been victimized by nearly three decades of us “kids” run-stomping our way up for meals and down for games and bed in the basement. I stretch to carefully put my foot on the one just above it, exhaling when I land with no sound. Not everyone is so lucky; that loose board has busted Theo sneaking in late—or early, depending on how you look at it—more times than I can count.

Once I’m in the kitchen, I worry less about stealth and go for speed. It’s still dark; the house is quiet, but Uncle Ricky will be up soon. This cabin is full of early risers. My window of opportunity to figure out how to fix this is narrowing quickly.

With a barrage of memories from last night rolling like a mortifying flip book through my head, I jog up the wide stairway to the second floor, ignore the mistletoe hanging above the landing, round the banister in my candy cane socks, sneak quietly down the hallway, and open the door to the narrower set of stairs leading to the attic. At the top, I nudge open Benny’s door.

“Benny,” I whisper into the chilly blackness. “Benny, wake up. It’s an emergency.”

A gravelly groan comes from across the room, and I warn him, “I’m turning on the light.”

“No—”

Yes.” I reach over, flicking the switch and illuminating the room. While we offspring have long been relegated to bunk beds in the basement, this attic is Benny’s bedroom every December, and I think it’s the best one in the house. It has pitched ceilings and a long stained-glass window at the far end that projects sunlight across the walls in brilliant stripes of blue, red, green, and orange. The narrow twin bed up here shares the space with the organized clutter of family heirlooms, boxes of decorations for various holidays, and a wardrobe full of Grandma and Grandpa Hollis’s old winter clothes, from back when buying a cabin in Park City wasn’t a laughable financial prospect for a high school principal from Salt Lake. Since none of the other families had girls when I was a kid, I would play dress-up all alone up here, or sometimes with Benny as my audience.

But now I don’t need an audience, I need a kind ear and a cold, hard shot of advice because I am on the verge of hysteria.

“Benny. Wake up.”

He pushes up onto an elbow and, with his other hand, wipes the sleep from his eyes. His Aussie accent comes out hoarse: “What time is it?”

I look at the phone I have gripped in my clammy palm. “Five thirty.”

He stares at me with squinty, incredulous eyes. “Is somebody dead?”

“No.”

“Missing?”

“No.”

“Bleeding profusely?”

“Mentally bleeding, yes.” I step deeper into the room, wrap myself up in an old afghan, and sit in a wicker chair that faces the bed. “Help.”

At fifty-five years old, Benny still has the same fluffy sandy-brown hair he’s sported my entire life. It reaches just past his chin, wavy like it was permed for years and at some point decided to stay that way. I used to imagine he was a roadie for some aging eighties rock band, or an adventurer who led rich tourists to their doom out in the bush. The reality—he’s a Portland locksmith—is less exciting, but his jangle of turquoise bracelets and beaded necklaces at least lets me pretend.

Right now that hair is mostly a tangled halo of chaos around his head.

With each of the twelve other bodies in this house, I’ve got deep history, but Benny is special. He’s a college friend of my parents—all of the grown-ups in this house attended the University of Utah together, except Kyle, who married into the group—but Benny has always been more friend than parent figure. He’s from Melbourne, even-tempered and open-minded. Benny is the eternal bachelor, the wise adviser, and the one person in my life I know I can count on to give me perspective when my own thoughts are swerving out of control.

When I was a kid, I would save up my gossip until I saw him over the Fourth of July weekend or Christmas break, and then unload everything the moment I had him to myself. Benny has a way of listening and giving the simplest, most judgment-free advice without lecturing. I’m just hoping his level head can save me now.

“Okay.” He clears some of the gravel out of his throat with a cough and brushes a few wayward strands of hair out of his face. “Let’s have it.”

“Right. So.” Despite my panic and the ticking clock, I decide it’s best to ease him in gently to this conversation. “Theo, Miles, Andrew, and I were playing board games last night in the basement,” I start.

A low “Mm-hm” rumbles out of him. “A standard night.”

“Clue,” I stall, tugging my dark hair over my shoulder.

“Okay.” Benny, as ever, is blissfully patient.

“Miles fell asleep on the floor,” I say. My younger brother is seventeen and, like most teenagers, can sleep on a pointy rock. “Andrew went out to the Boathouse.”

This “Mm-hm” is a chuckle because Benny still finds it hilarious that Andrew Hollis—Theo’s older brother—finally put his foot down with his father and found a way out of the infantilizing bunk bed situation: he moved into the Boathouse for the duration of the Christmas holiday. The Boathouse is a small, drafty old building about twenty yards from the main cabin. What cracks me up is that the Boathouse isn’t anywhere near a body of water. It’s most frequently used as an extension of the backyard in the summer and most assuredly not set up for overnight guests to the Rocky Mountains in December.

And as much as I hated not seeing Andrew Hollis in the top bunk across the room, I honestly can’t blame him.

No one sleeping in the basement is actually a kid anymore. It’s been well established that Theo can (ahem) sleep anywhere, my brother, Miles, idolizes Theo and will go wherever Theo is, and I put up with it because my mother would murder me barehanded if I ever complained about the Hollis family’s abundant hospitality. But Andrew, nearly thirty years old, was apparently done placating the parents, and took a camping cot and sleeping bag and strolled his way out of the cabin our first night here.

“We’d all had a couple drinks by then,” I say, then amend, “Well, not Miles, obviously, but the rest of us.”

Benny’s brows lift.

“Two.” I grimace. “Eggnog.”

I wonder if Benny knows where this is going. I am a notoriously wussy drinker and Theo is a notoriously horny one. Though, to be fair, Theo is just notoriously horny.

“Theo and I went upstairs to grab some water.” I lick my lips and swallow, suddenly parched. “Um, and then we were like, ‘Let’s drunkenly go for a walk in the snow!’ but instead…” I hold my breath, strangling my words. “We made out in the mudroom.”

Benny goes still, and then turns his suddenly-wide-awake hazel eyes on me. “You’re talking about Andrew, right? You and Andrew?”

And there it is. With that gentle question, Benny has hit the nail on the head. “No,” I say finally. “Not Andrew. Theo.” That’s me: harlot.

With the benefit of sobriety and the jarring clarity of the morning after, last night’s brief, frantic scramble feels like a blur. Did I initiate things, or did Theo? All I know is that it was surprisingly clumsy. Not at all seductive: teeth clashing, some feverish moans and kisses. His hand basically latched onto my chest in a move that felt more breast-exam than passionate-embrace. That’s when I pushed him away, and, with a flailing apology, ducked under his arm and ran down to the basement.

I want to smother myself with Benny’s pillow. This is what I get for finally saying yes to Ricky Hollis’s boozy eggnog.

“Hold on.” Bending, Benny pulls a backpack up from the floor near the side of the bed and retrieves a long, thin one-hitter.

“Seriously, Benedict? It’s not even light out.”

“Listen, Mayhem, you’re telling me you made out with Theo Hollis last night. You don’t get to give me shit for taking a hit before I hear the rest of this.”

Fair enough. I sigh, closing my eyes and tilting my face to the ceiling, sending a silent wish to the universe to obliterate last night from existence. Unfortunately, when I open them again, I’m still here in the attic with Benny—who’s taking a deep inhale of weed before sunrise—and a bucketful of regret settling in my gut.

Benny exhales a skunky plume and sets the pipe back in the bag. “Okay,” he says, squinting over at me. “You and Theo.”

I blow my bangs out of my face. “Please don’t say it like that.”

He raises his eyebrows like, Well? “You know your mom and Lisa have been joking all these years… right?”

“Yeah. I know.”

“I mean, you’re a people-pleaser,” he says, studying me, “but this goes above and beyond.”

“I didn’t do it to make anyone happy!” I pause, considering. “I don’t think.”

It’s a long-standing joke that, since we were kids, our parents hoped Theo and I would someday end up together. Then we’d officially be family. And I suppose, on paper, we make sense. We were born exactly two weeks apart. We were baptized on the same day. We slept together in the bottom bunk until Theo was big enough to be trusted not to jump off the top. He cut my hair with kitchen scissors when we were four. I covered his face and arms with Band-Aids each time we were left alone together until our parents got smart and started hiding the Band-Aids. So that we could be excused from the table, I used to eat his green beans and he’d eat my cooked carrots.

But all of that is kid stuff, and we aren’t kids anymore. Theo is a nice guy, and I love him because we’re practically family and I sort of have to, but we’ve grown into such different people that sometimes it seems like the only things we have in common happened more than a decade ago.

More importantly (read: pathetically), I’ve never been into Theo, primarily because I’ve had a crazy, silent, soul-crushing crush on his older brother for what feels like my whole life. Andrew is kind, warm, gorgeous, and hilarious. He is playful, flirty, creative, and affectionate. He is also deeply principled and private, and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing that would turn him off a woman faster than knowing she made out with his younger, womanizing brother while under the influence of eggnog.

Benny, the only other person in this house who knows about my feelings for Andrew, watches me expectantly. “So, what happened?”

“We were tipsy. We ended up in the mudroom, the three of us: me and Theo and his tongue.” I shove the tip of my thumb into my mouth, biting it. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”

“I’m trying to understand how this happened—this isn’t like you at all, Noodle.”

Defensiveness flares briefly but is almost immediately extinguished by self-loathing. Benny’s my Jiminy Cricket, and he’s right: that isn’t like me. “Maybe it was a subconscious shove: I need to get over this stupid Andrew thing.”

“You sure about that?” Benny asks gently.

Nope. “… Yes?” I’m twenty-six. Andrew is twenty-nine. Even I have to admit that if anything was ever going to happen between us, it would have happened by now.

“So you figured, why not Theo?” Benny asks, reading my thoughts.

“It wasn’t that calculated, okay? I mean, he’s not exactly hard to look at.”

“Are you attracted to him, though?” Benny scratches his stubbly chin. “That feels like an important question.”

“I mean, lots of women seem to be?”

He laughs. “That isn’t what I asked.”

“I guess I must have been last night, right?”

“And?” he asks, grimacing like he isn’t sure he wants to know.

“And…” I wrinkle my nose.

“Your expression is telling me it was terrible.”

I exhale, deflating. “So bad.” I pause. “He licked my face. Like, my entire face.” Benny’s wince deepens, and I point a finger at him. “You are sworn to secrecy.”

He holds up a hand. “Who would I tell? His parents? Yours?”

“Have I ruined everything?”

Benny gives me an amused smile. “You are not the first two people in history to have drunkenly made out. But maybe this was a catalyst in a way. The universe is telling you to move on, one way or another, where Andrew is concerned.”

I laugh because this feels genuinely impossible. How does one move on from a man so kind of heart and fine of ass? It’s not like I haven’t tried to get over Andrew for, oh, the past thirteen years. “Any idea how?”

“I don’t know, Noodle.”

“Do I pretend like nothing happened? Do I talk about it with Theo?”

“Definitely don’t ignore it,” Benny says, and as much as I was hoping to get permission to put my head in the sand, I know he’s right. Avoiding confrontation is the Jones family’s biggest vice. My parents could probably count on one hand the number of times they’ve maturely discussed their feelings with each other—which is probably what their divorce lawyer would tell you. “Go wake him up before the day gets rolling. Clear the air.”

He glances out the window, at the sky that is reluctantly brightening, and then back to me. Panic must be bleeding into my expression, because he puts a calming hand on mine. “I know it’s your nature to smooth out problems by avoiding confrontation, but it’s our last day here. You don’t want to leave with that lingering between you. Imagine coming back to that next Christmas.”

“You’re the most emotionally intuitive locksmith alive, you know.”

He laughs. “You’re deflecting.”

I nod, tucking my hands between my knees and staring down at the worn wood floor. “One more question.”

“Mm-hm?” His hum tells me he knows exactly what’s coming.

“Do I tell Andrew?”

He rebounds a question right back: “Why would Andrew need to know?”

I blink up to his face and catch the gentle sympathy there. Oof. He’s right. Andrew doesn’t need to know, because he wouldn’t care one way or another.

About The Author

Photograph by Brystan Studios

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the New York TimesUSA TODAY, and #1 internationally bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Autoboyography, Love and Other Words, Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, The UnhoneymoonersThe Soulmate EquationSomething WilderThe True Love Experiment and The Paradise Problem. You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com or @ChristinaLauren on Instagram.

Why We Love It

“Everything I love about movies like While You Were Sleeping or Love, Actually or The Holiday in book form—warm, cozy, a heartwarming celebration of the people and places we love the most. Plus, a little Christmassy magic! Meet under the mistletoe with In a Holidaze!”

—Kate D., Senior Editor, on In a Holidaze

Product Details

  • Publisher: Pocket Books (October 24, 2023)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668026601

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Raves and Reviews

Praise for In a Holidaze

"A fantastical twist on holiday cheer in this hilarious and heartwarming rom-com... a perfect Christmas treat."

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Take one lovably flawed heroine, add a doting boy-next-door hero, and sprinkle in a cozy family holiday, and you have the recipe for a delicious time-looping romantic comedy from best-selling duo Lauren."

– Library Journal (starred review)

“Lauren’s first holiday romance is a feel-good from the get-go… The story and characters have a cozy, old-fashioned vibe, and the love scenes are warm… In a Holidaze is an engaging and entertaining treat, with no sharp edges and plenty of seasonal sparkle.”

– BookPage (starred review)

“Christina Lauren excels at delivering dizzying, head-over-heels romance, but In a Holidaze is in the upper tier of their prodigious output. It wraps its reader in its cozy, jolly embrace like a beloved holiday sweater.”

– Entertainment Weekly

“A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"Equal parts heartwarming and hilarious."

– The Skimm

"Sweet and steamy!"

– USA Today

"In a Holidaze is everything I’ve ever wanted in a wintry love story. As hilarious as it is sweet, and sexy as it is tender, this story is pure, irresistible magic from start to finish. I couldn’t possibly love this book any more—my favorite Christina Lauren novel yet!"

– Emily Henry, New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read

"Christina Lauren's In a Holidaze is the perfect fresh take on finding your joy and falling in love. One page in and you want to put up your tree at all times of the year, sip hot cocoa, and dive into a marvelous cast of characters while staying on your toes as to what will happen next."

– New York Times bestselling author Carrie Ann Ryan

“An absolutely dazzling holiday romance: clever and cozy and deliciously sexy, with a cast of characters and a spirit-of-the-season lesson you won’t soon forget.”

– Kate Clayborn, author of Love Lettering

"Sweet and hilarious, In a Holidaze is the story of a woman who is given another chance... Christina Lauren's fans are sure to love this lighthearted novel, perfect for those who liked Groundhog Day or Life After Life.

– Shelf Awareness

“Sexy, festive, and heartwarming, In A Holidaze is the perfect book to read as you curl up under a blanket near a fire this holiday season."

– Insider.com

“This funny romantic comedy is one you won’t want to put down...This hysterical story of love, family and magic is sure to warm your heart."

– CNN.com

“Peerless writing duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings – aka, Christina Lauren – never disappoints, and their latest time loop rom-com will get you in the holiday spirit months early."

– Bust.com

Groundhog Day gets a remix in this new release from Christina Lauren. There’s plenty of laughs here, and Maelyn’s reactions to the time loops were so realistic...Unconventional holiday meetups are the perfect catalyst for a new adventure."

– Frolic

Praise for The Honey-Don't List

"Lauren (The Unhoneymooners) delivers a breezy, tongue-in-cheek rom-com as insightful as it is irreverent. Readers will laugh out loud.“

– Publishers Weekly

“A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren's latest, supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope. When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.”

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Fans will enjoy this charming romance.”

– Library Journal

"[An] abosrbing romance."

– Booklist

"Christina Lauren (The Unhoneymooners; Josh & Hazel's Guide to Not Dating) has created charming protagonists to root for... [A] touching romantic comedy."

– Shelf Awareness

Praise for Twice in a Blue Moon

“The writing duo Christina Lauren have written another entertaining and moving romance, this time crafting a second-chance story about a couple whose intense, youthful holiday fling ends in heartbreak."

– Booklist

"This emotional, sweet, and surprising novel about first loves and second chances will leave a tender spot in your heart."

– Shondaland

“[The] story… is worth the wait, and the rich family backstories add sweetness... [with] a twist that offers readers something unexpected and new.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"With a then-and-now plot similar to Lauren’s Love and Other Words, the writing duo’s latest has a youthful voice that may be a good fit for fans of new adult romances."

– Library Journal

"Readers inclined toward narratives of forgiveness will appreciate this story of learning to leave the past in the past.”

– Publishers Weekly

Praise for The Unhoneymooners

"What a joyful, warm, touching book! I laughed so hard I cried more than once, I felt the embrace of Olive’s huge, loving, complicated, hilarious family, and my heart soared at the ending. This is the book to read if you want to smile so hard your face hurts."

– Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal

"Witty and downright hilarious, with just the right amount of heart, The Unhoneymooners is a perfect feel-good romantic comedy. Prepare to laugh and smile from cover to cover.”

– Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test

"Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.”

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Lauren brilliantly wields familiar rom-com tropes—enemies to lovers, fake marriage, even height differences—to craft a delightful romance that will have readers hanging on every word.”

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Sassy and appealing, writing duo Lauren’s ( My Latest Half-Night Stand) latest endeavor is sure to please. A perfect read for beach or poolside, this is one hot summer story not to miss!”

– Library Journal (starred review)

"Lauren's (after Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating, 2018) latest is a sexy, hilarious rom-com that offers a look into the bonds of a large Mexican-American family and between twin sisters as well as at whether blood is thicker than water. Readers will laugh out loud… Perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory and Sally Thorne.”

– Booklist

“Lighthearted, laugh-out-loud funny and all too accessible (as the many Torres aunts and cousins keep butting into Ami's and Olive's lives), The Unhoneymooners is delightful. Olive's initial dislike of Ethan, tempered by her slow realization of his good qualities, makes for a charming and enjoyable romance.”

– Shelf Awareness

Praise for My Favorite Half-Night Stand

"A funny, sexy page-turner that warns: Keep your friends close and their avatars closer.”

– Kirkus Reviews

"This is a messy and sexy look at digital dating that feels fresh and exciting."

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"You can never go wrong with a Christina Lauren novel... Yet again, Christina Lauren offer up a delectable, moving take on modern dating with My Favorite Half-Night Stand, reminding us all that when it comes to intoxicating, sexy, playful romance that has its finger on the pulse of contemporary love this duo always swipes right."

– Entertainment Weekly

Praise for Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

"With exuberant humor and unforgettable characters, this romantic comedy is a standout."

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"In Lauren's hilarious standalone... Lauren finds the perfect balance between charming moments and sultry episodes."

– Publishers Weekly

"Lauren (Love and Other Words, 2018) has penned a hilariously zany and heartfelt novel... the story is sure to please readers looking for a fun-filled novel to escape everyday life with."

– Booklist

"The story skips along…propelled by rom-com momentum and charm.”

– The New York Times Book Review

Praise for Roomies

"This book has everything that makes romance novels great: a heroine's journey to self-discovery, a leading man worthy of a woman's love, and plenty of misty tears and full-on belly laughs along the way. Another knockout by Lauren."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Lauren’s standalone brims with authentic characters and a captivating plot."

– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“For decades, the tale of a marriage of convenience that becomes something more has inspired countless romances. With Roomies, Christina Lauren put a fresh, modern spin on the trope with their completely un-put-down-able green card romp…. Lauren masters rom-com banter and plotting, while also reminding us that the best entries in the genre are all about recognizing our own value regardless of relationship status. One of our 10 best romances of 2017. A+.”

– Entertainment Weekly

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