It is nowhere near the winter holidays but that doesn't mean you can't be prepared in advance! I received an ebook ARC of Love in Winter Wonderland by Abiola Bello for free in exchange for an honest review.
For starters, I am not a romance reader. But when I saw a book centering BIPOC characters in a bookstore, how could I not read it?!
Love in Winterland is a novel that is told in dual-POV by Trey and Ariel, two college students who don't really exist on the same social plane. Ariel, who has struggled with eating disorders in the past doesn't fit in with Trey, who has been the king of the college since day one. And his girlfriend makes sure that Ariel and anyone else she thinks is lesser, knows it. But when Ariel begins to work in the bookstore owned by Trey's parents, they get closer. And chaos ensues.
Some of the things that I love about this novel are the fact that the author gives us a song and artist at the beginning of each chapter. If you're familiar with the songs, it definitely helps set the mood and tone of what you're going to read and it was just a very well-thought out piece that not many authors include nowadays. I also appreciate that some chapters are long while others are extremely short, Bello plays into structure and uses the structure to further the plot in a way that most romance novels don't. It was cool to see, to say the least.
Bello also has a way with building up her world that is spectacular. I was interested even in the side characters and I wouldn't mind reading another book set in this universe, maybe about Trey's parents or one of Ariel's friends. The author gives you enough to be satisfied and enough to understand, but also there is more than enough there that this could be a well that can be tapped (but not overly-so). I could picture Ariel's artwork and hear Trey's singing voice in my head. I could imagine the parties and the catastrophe clearly. And all the while, I was wondering if all teenagers are this extra and insane. I think that is what Bello is going for here and it works.
This is marketed as a YA but I really feel that it fits more into NA, however British markets may see it differently.
Be that as it may, if you are looking for a book to give your romance-loving friend this holiday season, I think this one will be a hit!
What books do you come back to when the holidays roll around? Let me know in the comments down below!