Author: Sarah Monzon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 5, 2023
Publisher: Bethany House
Two workplace rivals. One festive competition. And a romance that upends it all.
Every December two things are guaranteed for graphic designer Mackenzie Graham--Christmas celebrations and the annual promotion at her workplace. Those two things are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, the better an employee is at harnessing the Christmas spirit, the more likely they'll win the new job. With her social anxiety, Mackenzie never thought she'd be a contender in her company's holiday competition, so how exactly has she found herself dueling her workplace crush with wrapping paper tubes and using tinsel as her weapon of choice for a much-needed raise?
Jeremy Fletcher's life is meticulously planned out, including how to win this year's promotion at work. Not only will the new position fulfill some of his career goals, but as a single guardian to his twin niece and nephew, he needs the salary increase to support his family. Jeremy has barely noticed Mackenzie Graham around the office, but now that she's his rival, he can't stop thinking about her. Her quirkiness intrigues him, and he's afraid that if he can't get his head on straight, the promotion isn't the only thing he'll end up losing to Mackenzie.
Reviewer: Marie Edwards
This is the first book I’ve read by the author, and I selected it because I love Christmas reads. I’m the type who’ll read them all year—yes, every single month of the year. Whether it's romance or romantic suspense, Christmas is my holiday, much like Mackenzie’s.
And reading a cutesy Christmas romance in the middle of summer is just what I need to remember that cooler temps are on the way.
Having seen the unfortunate fallout of a workplace romance, reading about them is a bit tenuous. Another tenuous subject is the main character's (Mackenzie) having a parent who has early-onset Alzheimer’s (people under 65). So, while I assumed this was a light romantic-comedy read, it can become a bit overwhelming, especially for those in a similar situation.
It is heartbreaking and quite realistic during a scene in which Mackenzie visits her mom on a bad day, and the woman has no memory of her daughter. Though her mother’s situation fuels Mackenzie’s desire to make Christmas more memorable since memories are a precious thing.
There are several “pop” culture references, mostly movies or TV. One reference is to an “R”-rated Christmas movie (highly debated though): Die Hard. While I like the movie quite a bit (I’ll admit that I like it far too much), I don’t think it needed to be mentioned in this book, especially since this seemingly falls under Christian fiction. Most of the references are targeted at Gen-X (1965–1980) or Millennials (1981–1996). Though some older folks might get them as well. I especially enjoyed the Harry Potter reference.
The competition for a promotion storyline was cute, but I felt it was a bit unprofessional. One should be chosen based on merit and talent, especially in a design company, rather than winning a competition.
The main characters, Jeremy and Mackenzie, were both sweet, each wanting the promotions for different reasons, each quite realistic and certainly relatable. The POVs varied and were told in first person (Mackenzie) and third person (Jeremy), which might be confusing to some readers.
To be incredibly honest, this felt a bit scattered. It was as if it were trying too hard to appease a bunch of different groups all at once. The characters were a bit hard to keep track of.
It is a rather enjoyable and sweet read, but it didn’t wow me as much as I was looking forward to.
Thank you to Bethany House for providing a complimentary review copy through Interviews & Reviews. A positive review was not required, and all words are my own.
Reviewer: Raechel Helwig
This was a fun Christmas rom-com!
I really appreciated the social anxiety aspect of this novel as well as the faith message. Both worked together so well and made the story and characters all that more relatable.
Mackenzie may have had her share of awkward moments, but I think those moments just made her more real and endearing, in my opinion. I appreciate being able to relate to characters, and hers was definitely one of those for me.
Full of cute moments, "All's Fair in Love and Christmas" is a delightful and entertaining read, and I loved each of the characters. They were well-rounded and realistic, not to mention just plain fun. I think each one added an important element that made the story come together and shine. And there were plenty of times I giggled out loud because of the situation the characters were undergoing and how they reacted to it.
The Christmas theme was, of course, very fun, and I especially liked a specific scene towards the end at the office party. You'll have to read it to know what I mean but trust me, it was sweet and delightful. And again, I really appreciated the faith element. I thought it was included very nicely and was a key element to the story, which I always value.
This book was provided courtesy of Bethany House through Interviews and Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Mindy Houng
"But instead of a Hallmark Channel marathon of festive magic, Sofiya is taking something good and joyous and making it into her own production of Christmas Wars: Office Edition."
Mackenzie and Jeremy do put on an excellent production of Christmas Wars: Office Edition. But instead of a cutthroat competition for promotion and raise, this rivalry becomes something incredibly sweet that helps the entire office remember wonderful family traditions and count the joys in their lives. The characters are delightful, the plot is fun, the faith thread and struggle are real, and the romance is swoony. The author does address some heavy topics like anxiety and dementia care with sensitivity, tenderness, and expertise. Throw in some really funny laugh-out-loud scenes and some totally heart-warming scenes and you have a perfect Christmas novel to cozy up with.
Mackenzie's first person voice was creative and compassionate and my heart ached for her as she battled social anxiety. How her one-sided infatuation became something more was so gratifying (one of my favorite tropes). Jeremy's driven and determined third person voice was easy to empathize with but I loved his kind, considerate, and thoughtful side that peeked out from under all that planning and need for control. I also loved the supporting characters in Mackenzie and Jeremy's friends and colleagues circle who made the story extra special.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House Publishers and was under no obligation to post a positive comment. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Tammy Lunsford
This is a wonderfully authentic story with a strong and lovable cast of characters. It definitely put me into the Christmas spirit, as that is what this book is all about.
Mackenzie Graham is a talented graphic designer with severe social anxiety. She is fine behind a screen, but the thought of making a presentation makes her want to throw up. So when she learns that she is one of the two people up for a promotion after Christmas, she is excited and, at the same time, mortified. Especially when she finds out who she will be competing against—none other than Jeremy Fletcher. Jeremy is everything that Mackenzie is not. He is a self-assured, people person. She has admired him from afar but would never dream of carrying on a conversation with him. Jeremy is intrigued by this woman, who cowers away from any light shone on her.
As these two wonderful characters compete for this promotion, you will find that they are both worthy of the promotion for different reasons. As they are forced to spend time together, you can feel the romantic chemistry, but poor Mackenzie just cannot make her mouth work properly. I felt so sorry for her at times.
The humor was plentiful, with scenes that will cause you to laugh so hard you will lose your breath. There was also a seriousness to the plotline, including social anxiety, Alzheimer's, and being the guardian of a niece and nephew. These serious subjects made me love these characters even more. Faith was very important to both Mackenzie and Jeremy. I really enjoy reading Christmas stories, and this one will go down as one of my favorites. Christmas traditions abound (even some humorous ones), with true Christmas spirit at the core.
This was the first book that I have read by Sarah Monzon, but it will not be my last. This book would be enjoyable any time of the year, as the moral of the story is thought-provoking and touching. Honestly, five stars seem insufficient for this gift of a story.
Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of this book through Interviews & Reviews. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Reviewer: Emily Stephens
What a delightful Christmas story! Kenzie and Jeremy are both trying for the same promotion at work, and at their office, Christmas spirit is a big factor in who is rewarded. Let the holiday hijinks begin!
The reader gains some insight into both main characters along the way. There's more beneath the surface than most of their co-workers realize. Mackenzie is dealing with a parent suffering from dementia, and Jeremy is a single dad to his niece and nephew. Of course, these circumstances make both of them more eager for the promotion and raise that comes along with it!
I enjoyed reading about all the various holiday activities sponsored by Kenzie and Jeremy as they tried to impress their boss while simultaneously growing closer to one another. Unlike some books set at Christmas that actually have very little to do with the holiday, it's front-and-center on virtually every page of this one!
As a Christian, my favorite part was Kenzie's faith. I appreciated that she prayed about things, but I also had some doubts about the strength of her faith. I found this more realistic than those perfect heroines who pray, then give everything over to God without a second thought. Thankfully, Kenzie's friend Keri steps in with some common sense and faith of her own to bring clarity.
An excellent holiday read with a strong faith element. Five stars.
I received a review copy courtesy of Bethany House through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
"Thirty-three years old and still waiting for a birthday to come around when I can unwrap the gift of not being awkward in social situations."
Mackenzie Graham has long admired one of her co-workers from afar, but her social anxiety has convinced her that Jeremy Fletcher would never have a single reason to glance her way. And what would she even do if he did? Quite unexpectedly, their boss pits them against one another for a coveted post-holiday promotion in order to generate a plethora of Christmas cheer within their graphic design firm. Yikes! Jeremy is definitely looking her way.
On the one hand, Mackenzie needs the extra income to fund her mother's long-term care, while on the other hand, Jeremy, who is fully supporting his niece and nephew, views the promotion according to his long-term plans as a way to save money for the twins' college education. As Jeremy and Mackenzie progress in their efforts to demonstrate leadership and teamwork, they discover that working together may prove more beneficial than competing against one another. Though the process proves deliciously (don't be surprised if you get cravings for holiday fare) entertaining, "all is fair in love and Christmas."
An utterly delightful, witty, and inspiring story with the sort of romantic moments that one might expect from a story that practically oozes with "visions of sugar plums"... dancing in the office?
"'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. Had he organized his present and future so much that he hadn't allowed for God to show up with blessings?"
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House through Interviews & Reviews. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
It's never too early for some Christmas cheer, and Sarah Monzon delivers it in All's Fair in Love and Christmas.
Graphic designer Mackenzie Graham loves Christmas, her job, her mom, and her competition for the annual promotion at her workplace, Jeremy Fletcher. The trouble is that she has a horrible case of social anxiety. Speaking to clients (or anyone else, for that matter) is extremely stressful for her. How will she win if she can't talk to clients? How can she let Jeremy know how she feels if she can barely look at him? But her mother has Alzheimer's, and she needs to win the job to be able to keep her at the nursing home. She'll have to win the job based on her Christmas spirit alone.
Jeremy has no problem talking to clients, and he needs the promotion as a single guardian to his niece and nephew. Unfortunately, he is getting sidetracked by his competition. He's never really noticed her before, and now he can't stop thinking about her.
I loved this Hallmark-like Christmas story! When I looked up from its pages and stepped back to reality, I was surprised there was no snow on the ground and disappointed my house wasn't decorated for Christmas. This is my first novel by Sarah Monzon, and it won't be my last!
Also, as an extrovert, I've never really understood social anxiety. I'm thankful the author gave me a glimpse into what is clearly a harsh reality for some.
If you enjoy romantic, fun-filled Christmas stories, you will love All's Fair in Love and Christmas!
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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