Thursday, September 28, 2023

Tour Review & Giveaway - - The Ex-Mas Holidays

The Ex-Mas Holidays
by Zoe Allison
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 26, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Maya Bashir is dreading her drive home for Christmas and having to explain that she's just left her high-paying job and a long-term relationship, so a brief detour to her friend’s festive party doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Until Maya walks in to find the last person she wants to see. Sam, the boy who broke her heart eight years ago. And he’s serving drinks. Naked.

Sam Holland is working an extra job on the sly to help his friend get by. But little did he expect Maya Bashir to come barrelling back into his life, learning about his secret side-hustle and taking back her old job alongside him at his daytime role as a ski instructor on the slopes of the Scottish Highlands.
As both Sam and Maya realize that their reason for heartbreak so many years ago wasn’t entirely as it seemed, they must learn to stand up for what they want the most…or else miss their second chance at love.

PJ's Thoughts:

Zoe Allison takes readers to the Scottish Highlands in this humorous and heart-tugging second-chance romance, tugging me into the lives of these characters from their unexpectedly funny "reunion" in the first few pages then easily holding my attention right up to the final scene. 

The ski resort provides a wonderful backdrop for this small-town, reunion romance, offering up cozy fires, delicious hot chocolate, crisp air, and snowy slopes that invite you to indulge your inner snow bunny. The setting has me wanting to pack my bags and book a flight to Scotland but it's the characters who would make me want to stay.

At first glance, this book would seem to be a lighthearted, funny second-chance romance. And it is...but it's also so much more. Allison has created complex characters with multiple layers, dealing with real-life issues that elicit a range of emotions. Maya's relationship with her family, and their expectations, has had a profound impact on her life and her happiness while Sam's own family issues have led him into an emotionally abusive relationship. These characters are so relatable, and endearing. I enjoyed their friendship, the attraction between them, the goodness and kindness in them. I was in their corner, cheering them on the entire way. 

While much of Sam and Maya's journey is flirty and fun, there are serious issues front and center in each of their lives. I appreciate the fact that the author gives both Maya and Sam the necessary time - and tools - to face those issues head-on. There is much to sort out between them with open communication being the key. There are also some emotionally triggering circumstances for Sam that are critical to his well being. Kudos to Allison for allowing her characters to grow realistically, acknowledging that the need for mental health treatment doesn't take away from this book's enjoyment, or from the romantic journey, but rather enhances it. 

This was my first book by Zoe Allison. It will not be my last. 

Have you visited the Scottish Highlands?

Where would you be spending your ski resort vacation: on the slopes or snuggled up to a cozy fire in the lodge?

One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, September 30 will receive a print copy of The Ex-Mas Holidays


  1. I have only been to the Scottish Highlands in my dreams. If I skied, every tree in the county would be in danger of being knocked over. So, I would end up sitting by a cozy fire. Thanks for the review, and the introduction to a new to me author.

  2. I have not read any of Zoe Allison's book, but this sounds like a good book to start with! I have never been to the Scottish Highlands or skiing, but I picture myself sitting in front of the fire reading a good book!

  3. This sounds like so much fun! I love when a sense of place/time is so strong in a book that it can transport me somewhere. I would definitely choose to snuggle up next to a cozy fire in the lodge :-)

  4. I very much want to visit the Scottish Highlands! I haven't read any of Zoe Allison's books, but this makes me want to do so. Oh and if I were on a snowy mountain I'd be all about hanging out in front of the fire.

  5. I would love to visit the Scottish Highlands very much. What beauty and special place this is. I will be reading this author's books. I would be in a cozy lodge sipping tea and reading.

  6. A new author for me. I would be cozied up in the lodge with my fuzzy blanket, kindle and hot chocolate. I’m not a cold weather person,

  7. Hi PJ. Great review! I've not been to Scotland and I would be the one in the lodge. I tried skiing once & it wasn't for me!

  8. Have not yet made it to the Highlands, but the plans are being made for a trip. The trick is when we will be able to take it. I would be in the lodge. My athletic ability is minimal and I would likely do serious damage to myself or someone else if I tried to ski.

  9. I would love to go to the Highlands and I would be by the cozy fire with hot chocolate.

  10. The book sounds like fun, PJ! And sadly, I've never made it to the highlands. The lowlands, yes, but not the highlands, neither in Scotland nor the games. And I'm most definitely the stay-inside-the-chalet-with-cocoa-and-a-book type! I actually lived in Vermont for a few years and successfully avoided skis the whole time!