The Holiday Treatment by Elle SpencerThe Holiday Treatment by Elle Spencer is a Christmas romance with all the feels. All of them.

Holly Hudson is a story editor at the Wifetime Network. She’s best known for her wildly popular screenplays for the much loved, very straight holiday movie series – Christmas in Evermore. Her singular goal is to get the network to make a gay Christmas movie.

At the network Christmas party, Holly’s intent is to stay long enough to do her annual pitch for a Christmas movie featuring gay characters. She’s disappointed, but not surprised when the network executive shoots down her idea explaining that audiences want “clean” programming. The only good thing about the party is when Holly’s crush, executive Meredith Drake, makes her appearance. Holly’s not sure Meredith knows she’s alive. She’s become content with admiring Meredith and her Chanel suits from afar.

Each year, Holly escapes Christmas in her hometown by spending a week in Hawaii. Sun, tropical drinks, and a fluffy hotel robe have become her way of distancing herself from this most dreaded of holidays. Growing up in Christmas Cove, Vermont where every day is Christmas took all the fun out of the holiday for her.

While waiting at baggage claim in the Honolulu airport, Holly is stopped dead in her tracks when she sees Meredith among the other travelers on her flight. Holly tries to go unnoticed, but when Meredith experiences a luggage disaster, Holly rescues a stray lingerie set for her secret crush then proceeds to engage Meredith in the most embarrassing conversation she’s ever found herself floundering in.

Meredith is in Hawaii for her sister’s wedding. Unfortunately, her flakey sibling called it off after Meredith boarded her flight. Alone and sad because she won’t be with her family for Christmas, she invites Holly to join her in the festivities she’d planned for the wedding. Holly jumps at the chance to spend time with the woman she daydreams about, and before they know it, they’re celebrating Christmas Eve in Meredith’s bed.

Meredith loves Holly’s idea for a gay Christmas movie. They decide to see where their relationship goes once they’re back on the mainland as well as work on bringing Holly’s dream to fruition.

Things quickly change when Meredith is promoted at the network making her Holly’s direct supervisor. There’s a rigid no fraternization policy at work and Meredith is expected to follow it to the letter. She and Holly decide to keep their relationship professional. Cue the longing looks and awkward conversations.

When Holly presents Meredith with the script for her holiday romance featuring two lesbian characters, Meredith puts ratings first and crushes Holly’s dream. Holly heads home to Christmas Cove seeking refuge from her broken heart. Being back in her hometown, surrounded by her family and the people she grew up with, she realizes that there’s something truly special about Christmas. The only thing that’s missing is the woman she loves.

Are happy endings just for the movies or do Holly and Meredith have a chance at finding theirs?

The Characters

I loved both characters. Holly is funny, smart, and beyond awkward. She’s singlehandedly making awkward the new sexy. It’s fun to see her so at ease with her dear friends at her apartment complex. With them she can be herself. Her sarcastic sparkle, self-deprecating sense of humor, and affection for her friends make her seem like the girl next door. Maybe the girl next door on a lot of caffeine. When she’s with Meredith, she’s got a serious case of foot-in-mouthitis. While they’re in Hawaii she finds herself with a limited filter. She can’t keep from saying things to Meredith that should be kept safely tucked away in her head. Once she and Meredith are together, her entire outlook on life expands. There’s nothing like love to break open a woman’s heart. When Meredith breaks said heart, Holly returns to the last place she’d expect. Being in Christmas Cove with her parents, she discovers new things about herself, her parents, and the town she grew up in. Each day she stays, she feels more comfortable and her heart begins to mend. Her hometown has changed so much I began to wonder if she might trade in her hectic Hollywood lifestyle for a more simple and staid way of life.

Meredith is enchanting. She’s got the whole gorgeous, unattainable vibe around her, but without the hallmarks of an ice queen. I found this refreshing and it made me like Meredith immediately. She finds herself just as smitten with Holly as Holly is with her. I loved Meredith even when she had to put an end to their romantic relationship. But as the story progressed, I started to have my doubts about her and the way she was treating Holly. When she does the unthinkable and derails Holly’s pet project, I was not amused. I was none too pleased with Meredith or Ms. Spencer for that matter. I had to cross my fingers and hope Meredith would get her act together and redeem herself.

The Writing Style

The clever banter and bits of situational humor make The Holiday Treatment sing. From the moment the book begins, the reader is fully immersed in Holly’s world. The story is told from her point of view, and her observations about living in Hollywood and working in the television industry are spot on. Spencer does a great job placing the reader inside Holly’s head, so all her thoughts and emotions hit home. But since the reader’s only privy to Holly’s point of view, Meredith’s motivations and feelings aren’t so easy to read.

The story has one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever read. Holly’s biggest desire is to write a Christmas screenplay featuring two lesbians who get to have a happily ever after. She’s doing it for the gays! Spencer executes the scene where Meredith makes things right with Holly exactly like the end of a Hallmark Christmas movie. There’s snow, supportive townsfolk, a town Christmas tree, and a grand gesture. The “Awwww” factor is huge and it’s a wonderful nod to the movies we can’t help watching every holiday season.

My Favourite Parts

Spencer provides Holly with a wonderful group of misfit friends. They all live in the same apartment building, and they’re each eccentric in their own special way. When they’re all together the comic dialogue is frenetic, and the physical comedy comes close to an episode of I Love Lucy. I particularly love Holly’s best friend Gwen. She’s sarcastic, irreverent, and a devoted friend. She’s the perfect sidekick, but a little bit extra in all aspects.

Heads Up

Be warned. After reading The Holiday Treatment, you may be overcome with the need to drink copious amounts of eggnog, don a Santa hat, and deck the halls with boughs of holly.

The Conclusion

Amy's favourite booksAs always, Spencer comes through with a novel that’s engaging on all levels. It has everything I want in a story – great characters, witty dialogue, an original plot, hot sex, a fair amount of angst, and an ending that got me all verklempt. It’s got all the elements to get you in the mood for Christmas. It even smells like chestnuts roasting on an open fire. (Really, Victoria?) I think you’ll delight in it. I’m ready to break out my ugly Christmas sweater and start humming Christmas carols. Enjoy!

Excerpt from The Holiday Treatment by Elle Spencer

Meredith untied the cord on her jacket. “I want to feel the breeze on my skin.” She took it off, hooked it in her finger and threw it over her shoulder. She glanced at Holly and said, “I wish it was chilly out here so I could wrap my jacket around your shoulders.”

The shy look on her face told Holly that she maybe didn’t mean to say those last words out loud. Holly knew the feeling. She took Meredith’s arm and said, “I wish I could make a woman swoon the way you just did, but I’m not that smooth.”

Meredith smiled. “I don’t think the world sees you the way you see yourself. At least, I don’t.”

“Oh, please. I’ve had to stumble and mumble and bumble my way through every promising date I’ve ever been on.” Holly made a circle with her thumb and finger. “This much mojo is what I have.”

“And you think I have that?”

“Case in point, you just removed your freaking jacket exactly how the most interesting man in the world would do it. He’d be like, I don’t usually wear a smoking jacket on the beach, but when I do, I make sure time stops when I take it off.” Holly glanced at the red satin camisole that clung to Meredith’s breasts. “Also, I was dying to know if you had anything on underneath it, so maybe that’s why time stopped.”

“And what if I hadn’t? What if I’d been naked from the waist up? Would you pretend it was normal? Try to cover me up? Or would you assume I was someone who’d spent too much time in Europe?”

“I would’ve said ‘Merry Christmas to you, Holly Hudson, because it would seem that champagne makes this woman take her clothes off.’ And then I would’ve covered you up so we didn’t get arrested.”

“See? That’s the perfect answer for someone like me. I want to know that you find me attractive, but I also want to know that you’re a sensible, responsible person.”

“Oh, I’m so both,” Holly said. “Totally one hundred percent both. Gay as the day is long, and I always volunteer to be the designated driver.”

Meredith looked above them. “Where’s the mistletoe when a girl needs it?”

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About the author

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Victoria is a native of Southern California where she lives with her fantastic family. Victoria traded in a career in the television and film industry to become a speech therapist to work with special needs kiddos like her younger daughter. Her passions include film history, Cate Blanchett, neckties, dismantling the patriarchy, and Cate Blanchett. She doesn’t eat mushrooms because they are gross and She prefers dark over milk chocolate. Victoria never leaves the house without her Kindle and she will work for books.