Review: Always, in December by Emily Stone

Emily Stone
Publication date: October 12, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Random House/Dell

It started with a letter. It ended with a love story.

A chance encounter during the holiday season brings two people together as quickly as it tears them apart--until fate intervenes again (and again) in this romantic debut novel in the tradition of One Day in December.

Every December, Josie posts a letter from her home in London to the parents she lost on Christmas night many years ago. Each year, she writes the same three words: Missing you, always. But this year, her annual trip to the postbox is knocked off course by a bicycle collision with a handsome stranger--a stranger who will change the course of Josie's life.

Josie always thought she was the only one who avoided the Christmas season, but this year, Max has his own reasons for doing the same—and coincidence leads them to spending the holiday together. Aglow with new love, Josie thinks this might be the start of something special.

Only for Max to disappear without saying goodbye.

Over the course of the next year, Max and Josie will find that fate continues to bring them together in places they'd never expect. New York City. Edinburgh. The quiet English countryside. And it turns out, Max had every reason to leave and every reason to stay. But what does fate hold for Josie and Max as Christmas approaches again?

A devastating, romantic, life-affirming love story, Always, in December will stay with readers long after they've finished the last page.


Let me start by saying that Always, in December is not a romance novel. I fear that it is being marketed as such, or at least labeled as romance by Goodreads users, and that will lead to some damning (and unfair) reviews. Calling it a romance will garner certain expectations (I’m being purposely vague here) and I’d hate to see that because Always, in December deserves all the love.

"I never thought I’d see you again, but I’m so happy that our paths were destined to intertwine."

Josie is at a crossroads. She’s just broken up with her boyfriend and she’s being laid off from her job (or given the option to take a less-than-desirable lateral move). To make matters worse, it’s Christmas, the season Josie dreads every year because while everyone else is bustling about, shopping, filled with merriment, Josie is filled with memories of her parents who were killed in an accident on Christmas Eve. While out mailing a letter to her beloved parents, her Christmas tradition, she quite literally runs into Max. And that collision, that chance encounter, sets into motion a series of events that will change both their lives.

I fell in love with both Josie and Max’s stories – because this is so much more than their story together – from the very start. Right away I had the feeling that I would come to love these characters and I wasn’t wrong. From their first meeting in London, and those magical few days spent together that seemed so promising, to a chance encounter months later in New York City, to a reunion of sorts in Scotland, Josie and Max’s paths continued to cross fleetingly before circumstances separated them again.

While Josie’s issues were more outwardly obvious – grief that she has carried into adulthood, career dissatisfaction, a cheating boyfriend – Max’s were less so and I appreciated the way Stone doled out small bits of information along the way. The more that is revealed, the more his past behavior makes sense. I savored every page as their stories – both separately and together – played out. Their interactions over the course of the year never felt contrived, but more serendipitous.

The secondary characters felt purposeful and Josie’s doting grandparents, in particular, were delightful. (I adored Memo and Grandad!) They all added a richness to the story, a bit of comic relief, and at least one of them truly surprised me.

Josie was a heroine who was easy to love, to relate to, and want the absolute best for. She had been shaped by loss in her childhood and Stone did an incredible job of showing how that resonated in Josie’s adult life. Her journey presented her with options that pushed her out of her comfort zone, if only she was brave enough to take them.

Let me reiterate that Always, in December is not a romance novel, but it is a love story. One that was poignant and engaged my every emotion. Always, in December was a remarkable debut novel and I can’t wait to read what comes from Emily Stone next.


WWW Wednesday #108 | September 29, 2021

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words
Just share your answers to three questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you'll read next?

Fun fact: Working a full work-week after having two short weeks in a row is no joke. 😣
I mean, seriously, I'm expected to work five days in a row? Who do I file a complaint with?



Currently reading: I've barely started The Charm Offensive - as in, I'm still on chapter one, the first night of filming - so I haven't formed much of an opinion yet. But I've totally enjoyed what I've read so far. I've had serious second-hand anxiety and embarrassment for Charlie and I can't wait to see how things develop between he and Dev.
Current progress: page 20 of 354

Currently listening: I was in the mood for a comfort read and when that's the case I often return to the world of The Others. The series by Anne Bishop is one of my all-time faves and listening to Alexandra Harris's narration of these characters is like coming back to old friends.
Current progress: 45%



Recently read: As with most of Corinne's novels, A Moment for Us was almost un-put-downable. (That's totally a word, ask anyone.) I loved getting Josh and Delia's story and seeing how it unfolded was so bittersweet. This one generated some serious tears (I mean, it is Corinne Michaels), and the set up for the next (and final) book in the series was priceless. Review to come next week on release day.

Recently listened to: Okay, unpopular opinion time. Chloe Liese's books: I like them okay but I don't love them. Goodreads is loaded with 5 star ratings for her books but I guess they just don't click with me the same way they seem to for others. I'll explain further in my review, but I will say that I did really like both Axel and Rooney and this was my second favorite in the series.



Four Letter Word will likely be up next since I have it out from the library. And my Overdrive hold for Lisa Jewell's The Night She Disappeared just came in this morning so it will definitely be my next audiobook. 


The Sunday Post #262 | September 26, 2021


The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's a chance to share news: a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books,
 and share what's coming up on your blog in the week ahead.

My time off continued into this week as I was off Monday and Tuesday. It was the end of six glorious days off in a row and it felt like even longer. I really need to do that more often because midway into it I realized how very much I needed it. So that meant it was only a three-day work week which... yay! I could get used to that! :) 

It seems like every blog I visited this week was filled with mentions of the first day of fall and the cooler weather everyone is loving. Um, can I have some of that, please? I guess I should just be happy that it hasn't hit 90 here in the last week (even though it was 88 a few days, but whatever). I want to do All The Fall Things! Better luck in October (or even November...).

Sarina Bowen wrapped up her Must Love Hockey serial with episode 13 this week. So much fun! I've loved James as he's appeared throughout the Brooklyn Bruisers series, so having him get his very own story (even in a short story format) was so great. Have you been reading the series? If not, I believe she's releasing the story on ebook and audio pretty soon. 

This week's 80's music fix is You Take Me Up (1984) by Thompson Twins. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21

Friday, September 24

Rafe - Rebekah Weatherspoon
Only One Kiss - Natasha Madison

Listened to:
With You Forever (Bergman Brothers #4) - Chloe Liese


A Moment for Us (Willow Creek Valley #3) - Corinne Michaels
So happy to be back in Willow Creek Valley.

Murder of Crows (The Others #2) - Anne Bishop
I was in the mood for a comfort read and this series is my favorite to return to.


The Legacy (Off-Campus #5) - Elle Kennedy



Kiss and Don't Tell - Meghan Quinn


A Moment for Us (Willow Creek Valley #3) - Corinne Michaels



The Charm Offensive - Alison Cochrun
Four Letter Word - J. Daniels


Short Take Reviews: Brooklyn Bruisers series #1-5


Over the last couple months I've been on a mission to catch up/finish the plethora of series I have going. It's been ridiculously satisfying. :) One series that I managed start out of order (something I never do) is Sarina Bowen's Brooklyn Bruisers series. I received arcs of Superfan and Sure Shot back in 2019-2020 and loved them, but they were books six and seven in the series. Oops! So I've gone back and binged the first five books. Here are some super quick thoughts on each.

ROOKIE MOVE (Brooklyn Bruisers #1) - Leo & Georgia
I'm a sucker for a second-chance romance so Leo and Georgia's story was right up my alley. While Georgia was hesitant and gun shy, I loved that Leo was all in and made no apologies for his dogged pursual of Georgia. Their backstory really broke my heart and I liked how Bowen portrayed how the aftermath affected Leo as much as it did Georgia. I'm a big fan of this couple. 4 stars

HARD HITTER (Brooklyn Bruisers #2) - Patrick & Ari
At first glance, Patrick and Ari seemed like an unlikely pair. Patrick was a veteran player but even as team captain, he tended to keep a distance between himself and his teammates (and everyone else). He was something of a loner and a grumpy hero. Being forced to spend time with Ari, the team massage therapist, due to an injury was such a blessing in disguise. I loved seeing Patrick open up, let someone in, and make some changes in his life. The slow-burn romance between these two was delicious. 4 stars

PIPE DREAMS (Brooklyn Bruisers #3) - Mike & Lauren
Mike and Lauren had a history - one that had ended badly. Forced to work together again, Lauren was cold and distant but it was obvious there were still feelings there - on both sides. Mike was a little clueless but came to realize that he truly mishandled their breakup, even if his motives were pure. My struggle with this one was how an important aspect of Lauren's story was handled. She seemed to change her mind and do a total 180 about a big issue in the blink of an eye and I had to backtrack to see if I had skipped a few pages or even a whole chapter. The way it was handled rankled with me and kept me from loving this one quite as much as the others. On the plus side, I loved Mike and really enjoyed the storyline with his daughter. 3.75 stars


BROOKLYNAIRE (Brooklyn Bruisers #4) - Nate & Rebecca
I was so excited to get Nate and Becca's story. It was obvious from previous books that Nate was seriously pining for Becca and I was so there for it. I loved the strong friendship between these two, the total acceptance they gave one another, and the level of comfort between them. And they way it was obvious to almost everyone (except Becca!) that Nate was head over heels for her. Their relationship wasn't without challenges, considering Becca was an employee. Becca's ongoing issues with her head injury and Nate's attempts to take care of and help Becca gave me all the feelings. The ending - and then that epilogue - were just perfection. This slow-burn, friends to lovers romance hit all the right spots and was just what I wanted for Nate and Becca. 4.25 stars

OVERNIGHT SENSATION (Brooklyn Bruisers #5) - Jason & Heidi
Jason was a confirmed bachelor and did not do relationships. Heidi was the NHL Commissioner's daughter and was doing her best to strike out on her own and gain her independence. I loved the whole forced proximity trope with Heidi temporarily living in Jason's apartment. Heidi was irrepressible and impossible not to like. She was so positive and had such a can-do attitude and I loved that about her. Jason's backstory definitely pulled at my heart but his issues with his past also meant he wasn't completely open with Heidi. When he froze her out and pushed her away I truly wanted to throttle him. I didn't feel quite as connected to Jason and Heidi as I have with most of the other couples (and I can't even pinpoint why), but that didn't stop me from being on-board with their story and pulling for their HEA. 4 stars


Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic:
Books on My Fall TBR

Fall may officially start tomorrow, but it's a little hard to have autumn vibes when it's hovering close to 90 degrees outside. But that's Florida for you. Are you actually getting cooler temps where you live? If so, consider me green with envy.

This titles aren't necessarily being released this fall; they're just books that I'm
excited to dive into sooner rather than later. :)

Heard it in a Love Song - Tracey Garvis Graves
The Sinner - Emma Scott
Well Matched - Jen DeLuca
No Tomorrow - Carian Cole
Fortunate Son - Jay Crownover
A Moment for Us - Corinne Michaels
A Stormy and Sultry Sea - Katie McGarry
Kiss and Don't Tell - Meghan Quinn 
Getting Real - Emma Chase

Are any of these books on your TBR?