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A Christmas Romance You'll Remember All Too Well (Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun)

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

GENRE: Adult Romance

LENGTH: 345 pages


PLOT

Christmas Eve last year Ellie and Jack had a meet cute and spent a magical snow day together falling in love. Unfortunately, things ended in disaster. A year later a broke Ellie enters into a marriage of convenience with Andrew who must marry to inherit. When she spends Christmas with his family she learns Jack is his sister.


CHARACTERS

Our main character Ellie is a struggling artist with a fear of failure and generalized anxiety disorder. I saw a lot of myself in her as any artistic and/or person with an anxiety disorder will. Her love interest, Jack, is a baker with a wild heart but a comforting aura. I was skeptical about their romance because I don’t believe you can love someone after a day – attraction and perhaps even like but not love. Yet I adored both these characters and every scene of them together was so magnetic. I found myself becoming a believer in that snow day, fated romance magic after all.

The other characters are also, mostly, wonderful. They mostly consist of Jack’s family and my favorites among them are Lovey and Meemaw, the grandma characters. They’re over the top but also encompass that special warmth only grandmas have.

The only character I really didn’t like was Ellie’s best friend Meredith. In my opinion she was too pushy and bordering on rude even when Ellie was deeply hurting. She had good intentions, I think, but she isn’t the kind of friend I would want to have.

There is an abundance of LGBT+ characters in this novel which is wonderful to see. We have Ellie who is bisexual, Jack who is a lesbian, Jack’s best friend Dylan who is nonbinary, and Andrew who has dated members of the LGBT+ communities (I don’t know how he specifically identifies). There is also a side character who is transgender. This kind of representation is so important and I’m so pleased to be seeing more of it in the recent years.


NARRATIVE STYLE/PACING

The novel is told through Ellie’s first person perspective. There are also chapters of Ellie’s online stories about the day she spent with Jack. The inclusion of these chapters was very much crucial for me as a reader because it enabled me to see the main couple’s dynamic before things became messy. It helped me to understand how they fell so hard so quickly and made me fall for them together.

Adult romance novels are always trope filled and this book is no different. There is, of course, second chance romance (which is my personal second favorite romance trope after friends-to-lovers). I don’t think of myself as a romantic but there’s something about the idea of two people being so fated that even if things fail the first time they are drawn back together. There’s also forced proximity which is used to its full advantage. The other main trope here is marriage of convenience. I’d argue this is the most unique use of this particular trope I’ve read because it turns it on its head.

Any of my fellow Swifties/Taylor Swift fans might have caught on that the title of this blog references perhaps Miss Swift’s best song, All Too Well. This is because there are so many references to Taylor Swift within the novel. Ellie and Jack bond over their shared love of her music. In addition to direct mentions to Swift songs there is also an indirect one that eagle eyed Swifties are sure to notice. So often if a character within a book has an interest it is in classical literature (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but it was a nice change of pace to see more modern and popular interests.

This was Cochran’s sophomore novel and both of her novels feature characters with mental illness. As mentioned in the previous section in this novel Ellie has a generalized anxiety disorder and suffers from panic attacks. As someone with both depression and an anxiety disorder I cannot express how meaningful it is to have books with accurate mental health representation. I get emotional reading her books because the main reason I am hesitant to even consider dating is due to the idea that I would be a burden on my significant other due to my mental illnesses. Cochran’s books feature characters who are supported in their struggles but who are also not defined by them either. People with mental illnesses are so often villainized in the media that it’s heartwarming to get to have romance books where we can feel understood and loved.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Cochran is now an auto-buy author for me because not only is she a talented writer but, as I already said, good mental health representation is so important yet so rare. If you’re looking for a lighthearted Christmas story then this isn’t exactly that. There is a lot more angst than one might expect from a Christmas romance. There is still plenty of wintry, holiday time scenes to put you in the spirit but I don’t want to set you up with unrealistic expectations.


FINAL RATING: 4.75

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