Cover Image: The Holiday Trap

The Holiday Trap

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

a holiday romance a la 'the holiday' in which two queer adults, frustrated with their current situation, do a house swap for a month over the holidays, and ultimately find what they're looking for where they least expect it. i really wanted to like this, however the two romance plots side by side just weakened both, as neither felt fully developed. there was a lot of unnecessary filler to each story that i really think could have been revised more. this book was just too long and needed some more work.
Was this review helpful?
my thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this digital ARC. This is my honest review. 

This book follows Greta, a resident of Maine who is frustrated with her overbearing family and overall sheltered life, and Truman, who is reeling from relationship heartbreak and needs a break. Through a mutual friend they end up negotiating a house swap. 

The book tries to do a lot. It's got two POVs, with Truman and Greta, and a whole host of side characters, many of whom tick off diversity boxes. The premise intrigued me but the book felt a little flat. 

It was like two books, to be honest, with Greta's story being the one that left me unmoved. I found her a bit whiny and her relationship with Carys was devoid of any real chemistry. Her New Orleans story was sidetracked by so many side characters that it was hard to see her and her growth, other than her being so wowed by her new surroundings. If she grew at all, to be honest. 

Truman's story could have been its own book. He is endearing and kind and you truly feel for him, as his world crumbles and he makes some major realizations about  where he is in life and why and what he can do to change that. He and Ash had a far more dynamic chemistry, one that felt natural and fun, not forced and awkward like Greta and Carys. 

Greta and her family were really one of the reasons I didn't like this book more. There were some twists that I didn't need and didn't expect. 

The sex scenes are explicit and they don't really mesh with the holiday rom com feel of the rest of the story. They kind of pop in unexpectedly and somewhat awkwardly (particularly in Greta's story) and I don't think they added anything to the book. 

Overall this was a bit of a chore to read, which was disappointing. I was excited to read a holiday rom com with a queer, Jewish MC but I didn't find this one to be memorable or that enjoyable. This had a lot of potential but it missed the mark for me. 

Two stars for Greta. Four for Truman. three overall although I'm more like 2.5
Was this review helpful?
this was cute! not my fave holiday romance but definitely a fun read! would try another book by this author.
Was this review helpful?
"The Holiday Trap" by Roan Parrish is a delightful and heartwarming LGBTQIA+ romcom that captures the spirit of the holidays and the magic of unexpected romance. Parrish's storytelling prowess shines as she crafts a tale of love, humor, and the joy of the festive season. The book's relatable characters and charming plot create an immersive reading experience that resonates with fans of both romance and holiday stories. Parrish skillfully navigates the complexities of relationships and the emotions of her characters, adding depth to the narrative and making it a must-read for those seeking a heartwarming LGBTQIA+ romance. "The Holiday Trap" is a reminder that love can bloom in the most unexpected places, leaving readers with a warm and contented feeling as they immerse themselves in the characters' journey of connection and holiday joy.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
The Holiday Trap is a romance that gifts us with two POVs, just surprisingly not a matched, romantic pair. Our lovely protagonists are: Greta, a lesbian with carnivorous plants in Maine, and Truman, a gay man with a dog named Horse in New Orleans. Both need to get away for the holidays-- Greta because her family overstepped and entered her in a charity auction for a date (with a man, no less) and Truman because he discovers he's been the other man for a year. The swap is set up by their mutual friend Ramona when she finds out they both wish they could get away but aren't sure how to make it happen. She pops in with little wisdoms for her helpless friends between chapters, which is a cute touch.

Both protagonists are highly awkward and relatable in their lack of cool. Little details let you know the author really knows her characters inside and out-- their histories, their preferences, their dreams, and their relationships. Basically, they're full of life. Both locations also feel lived-in and vibrant, from the locales to the people. Even the side characters sparkle. A middle school teacher who swears practically every other word stole my heart in a pool party scene. That's all the time I needed to form an attachment with a fellow sister-in-arms. New Orleans also features a mini horse named Teacup and an old lady friend Muriel with a beautiful garden, who drinks coffee and then champagne among her flowers. In Maine, we help Truman search for his favorite childhood author when clues on the island make him believe she once stayed there. We also get to spend time in cute Main Street shops, especially the flower shop because of a certain cute florist.

In terms of romance, we're treated to one whirlwind romance between Greta and Carys and one slow burn with Truman and Ash. Greta is drawn to Carys' confidence and self-possession, her unapologetic and free-spirited queerness. Through her, Greta gets to experience the joys of having a broad queer community to belong to. They see all parts of her and welcome her favorite Hanukkah traditions into their eclectic annual holiday party. Greta gains the courage to make decisions for herself without letting her family's feelings hold her back, but she also has to learn to be responsive to Carys' needs and boundaries in ways she didn't grow up with. In Maine, Ash is the sole caretaker for his mother who suffers from dementia. Between that stressor and barely keeping his business afloat, he feels alone. Meanwhile, Truman is so used to contorting himself into whatever shape best suits others that it's a source of comfort and hope to hang out with someone who enjoys him just as he is. Armed with his trademark enthusiasm and love of lists, Truman supports Ash in coming up with ideas to refresh his business and to take back enough breathing room to find joy and partnership in his life. Both love stories are just SWEET. They have romantic adventures together and enjoy life in the kinds of little ways that are actually possible. It's aspirational. We all deserve those little joys.

The book has a new adult "trying to figure out my life" vibe... although that's also my current life stage as a medium adult, so don't let the youthful energy scare you off. I loved that our characters go on individual journeys outside their romances. For example, distance actually kind of helps Greta bond with her youngest sister when the rest of the family is too clingy to keep in her orbit. Meanwhile, Truman embraces his creativity and starts to consider his own wants in life. The book is also delightful in its multiple snide remarks towards capitalism and the patriarchy and its embracing of all things queer, including trans pride and chosen family.

It was an emotional experience to hear things I needed to hear as much as the characters. Both Greta and Truman need different things, which makes sense given the swap. And I think it's an important reminder that there's no set path to queer (or any) joy. There are as many options as there are people and finding the right thing means respecting yourself and your needs-- putting them first. This book is queer joy at its finest, and I highly recommend it. Thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for my copy to read and review!
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars!
This story was so enjoyable. I was hesitant at first because I was worried that Truman and Greta's stories would be too similar, but it was perfect. They had some similarities but their growth and the paths they take differed enough to make reading each of their journeys a good time. 

There was a point I literally cried when Greta finally understood her pattern of behaviors because it was just so relatable, often shrinking oneself down for the sake of others. It was so beautifully written and something I needed to hear in the moment.

I loved each of the characters, with Carys being the only one who really needed to grow on me, but seeing her vulnerability was the best way for it to have happened. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
That you to Netgalley and Harlequin for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This was a really cute and queer take on The Holiday (a favorite movie of mine). While the callbacks to the movie were clear, I really enjoyed how this was really original too. Just a fun holiday read.
Was this review helpful?
Greta is beyond done with her family volunteering her for things they know she would NOT be ok with, and Truman is reeling from finding out his boyfriend has a secret family (husband AND child included)- yuck. With a mutual friend in common, they decide to swap lives and houses for the month to get away and change scenery. Each finds themself falling for the people and the cities they come to be acquainted with and wonder if they are truly happy with the lives they had been leading. 

Soooo, I like the gist of the story- the dual POV and the swap are really fun and it's cool to have everything and everyone interconnected. What I did NOT like was that I felt the dialogue was SUUUUUPER cheesy at times, and then SUUUUUUUPER spicy at times (for real, some of this is X-rated- you were warned). I didn't enjoy the way the relationship began- at least for Greta. It was quick and awkward and some of the time she was confident and other times she was the complete opposite and it felt juvenile. I found myself enjoying the parts with Truman and Ash, even though some of it didn't seem realistic to me. I LOVED the shout-out to BUJOs (IYKYK) and the aspect of Ash that is all too real regarding his family and business. 

I'm not sure how often I would recommend this one because I felt it was a clash of adult and YA - the spicy scenes are truly REALLY intense (there are a lot of things I probably didn't need to learn) but the relationships and dialogue were quite juvenile and almost YA-esque? There is a lot of representation in this- LGBTQ+ which is great, but almost to the point where the author threw in a character for every single rep they could think of and it was pretty overwhelming. 

Overall intent was nice, but it was too messy IMO. I will read more from this author and recommend this one depending on the individual, but definitely not a book for a broad audience.
Was this review helpful?
DNF at 25%

I don't usually write DNF notes - but this is an ARC book so I try to give my reasons. I read many of Parrish's books prior to this one. It feels rather different though, more like a queer (mainstream) fiction that wants to check ALL the boxes (including gay, lesbian, trans, and non-binary characters) and rather light on the usual romance I got from Parrish.

I struggled to get into it... mostly because I didn't particularly interested with Greta (and Carys) as one of the main couples. Truman and Ash feel like they would fit me better but I hated that they had to share the spotlight with Greta's story. I know I am still 1/4th of the book but I can't find motivation to continue reading. Especially I know there are other to-read books waiting that may be better fit for me at the moment.

So I'm dropping the book because of that. I hope other readers enjoy it more than I do.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Was this review helpful?
A great queer romcom for people who have not read any other gay book in their life</i>. Overall, this was NOT AT ALL LIKE THE MOVIE THE HOLIDAY OUTSIDE OF A HOUSE SWAP. So, I'm casting aside that comparison entirely. 

The potential was so big. Gays! House swaps! Fun, diverse side characters! A cute floral shop! This was right up my alley, I thought. But alas, it fell flat for me. 

I do want a book that is just the MM romance budding that was Truman and Ash. They are like too slightly damaged cinnamon rolls and I adored them both. I would like to bleach my memory of Greta and Carys entirely, they had the oddest and least believable chemistry by far. I am aware I am in the minority here, but I actually disliked Greta FAR more than Carys. She was so...willfully naive? Completely ignored people's clearly spoken boundaries (why y'all hating on Carys for rightfully being frustrated that Greta directly disregarded the one and only boundary Carys set?!). Greta's main positive attribute was her love of houseplants, which I enjoyed because I also love my houseplants. Though, I don't keep a spreadsheet for them..yet ;) 

Truman, on the other hand, was my favorite kind of romcom character. He was messy, wholesome, driven, and accountable. I do wish they had had more of a resolution with his ex though - outside of Greta (again) poking her business where it didn't belong. Greta was, unfortunately, just as insufferable as her entire family. I wish the author had either nixed the homophobic storyline entirely or spent some time actually resolving it. Yes, in real life, many of us queer folks have complicated blurry-line relationships with our family - but this is supposed to be a romcom book not a memoir. I didn't like having to see main characters gloss over homophobia in cutesy ways, I believe it does more harm than good in the end.

Courtesy warning: There are graphic sex scenes where you don't expect them. I didn't anticipate that level of smut in this one, so it came as a surprise to me. It also didn't really fit the rest of the way the book was written. So, it stood significantly as out-of-place. I like smut, but I wasn't thinking it would pop up here. 

Carys got a lot of disdain from reviewers, but I thought she was the most grounded and self-aware of all the characters. She had her own life that didn't revolve around Greta's hem-hawing doe-eyedness and she didn't let Greta get away with crossing established boundaries. I liked that they had a real talk about respecting each other's needs and it not leading to some sort of breakup - instead it led to a strengthening of their relationship. Maybe the only part of their relationship that made sense. It was a bit TOO instant of love for how Carys' independence is established. 

To wrap the ramble, this had a missed opportunity to elevate a rarely seen queer Jewish MC and to break tropes of queer characters and lives -instead of reinforcing them. This was my first Roan Parrish novel, and will likely be my last.  The title didn't make sense to me either, there is exactly ZERO to do with a trap of any kind and only loosely holiday related at all. So, that was an interesting choice of titles.
Was this review helpful?
Greta & Truman has an intriguing relationship. The Holiday Trap was adorable. It has a slow start and then it picked up.
Was this review helpful?
A sort of queer  version of The Holiday about a woman with a codependent family in small town  Maine and a man who just discovered he was dating a married man swapping houses through a mutual friend. It was a cute read. Not as holiday focused as some, but sweet. And I particularly loved the relationship between Truman and Ash.
Was this review helpful?
This book was fantastic. I loved having two storylines and two relationships to explore. Parish always does a great job writing the setting and the towns and cities in this book were no exception. Highly recommend!
Was this review helpful?
Sadly what I read of this didn't end up interesting me. It was kind of slow and I really couldn't get into it so I put it down and never wanted to go back. I wanted to want to read this but in the end it was a book not for me. Check out some other reviews as others have really enjoyed this one.
Was this review helpful?
A retelling of "The Holiday" but make it queer??? 

I was all in on this book from the second I picked it up.

Obviously it's hard to read a "The Holiday"-inspired book without comparing it to "The Holiday" -- and obviously nothing compares -- but this was a fun multiple-narrator book for my holidays this year.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately The Holiday Trap was not a favorite of mine. It was more of a jumbled book of content and I struggle to make it to the halfway mark. It just wasn't for me.
Was this review helpful?
This was a cute holiday themed read, surprisingly made me feel more festive! :)  The Dual POV made the story more inclusive! Definitely pick this book up around the holidays!
Was this review helpful?
Roan Parrish draws inspiration from the cinematic masterpiece The Holiday in this romance following Greta and Truman, who swap houses for the holiday season and find love along the way. 

The Holiday is one of my all-time favorite movies and Roan Parrish is one of my all-time favorite authors—so what a joy to have them both together! I think it's an incredible feat for an author to pull off two storylines woven together in this way, and I really enjoyed seeing the nods Parrish gave to the original while still crafting a wholly unique story.

Truman and his love interest Ash have a great slow burn build-up to their romance, which includes them being brought together by searching for a reclusive local author. I loved this added mini-mystery in the story! We also were able to see the ways that Truman feels pigeonholed into viewing himself as an uncreative person compared to his family, and how Ash is struggling to run the family business and care for his mother. The way they learn to support and rely on each other was really beautiful.

Meanwhile, Greta is breaking free from her too tightly knit family and learning what it means to be in a place where she can be herself without holding anything back. I really loved her journey of learning to set boundaries and carve out a space for herself in the world. Her romance with Carys has a faster pace with instant chemistry that completely draws Greta into Carys' world, thereby opening Greta's eyes to the power of queer community. Of the two plotlines, it did feel as though Greta's might benefit the most from a bit more room to explore some of the themes—especially given how important setting boundaries in all kinds of relationships can be and the exploration of finding your home in a queer space.

I can't wait to see what Parrish does next!
Was this review helpful?
4 stars!

I was so pleasantly surprised by this novel. Roan Parrish has such great writing, and I really loved the holiday atmosphere with the town, the characters, and the Christmasy vibes. Overall, I would say that the story was great and I enjoyed the dual POV component.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?