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Love in Winter Wonderland – Abiola Bello

Thank you very much to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Trey Anderson is popular and handsome, and he works at his family’s beloved Black-owned bookshop, Wonderland. Ariel Spencer is quirky, creative, and in need of a holiday temp job to cover her tuition for The Artists’ Studio. An opening at Wonderland is the answer . . . and the start of a hate-to-love journey for Trey and Ariel. When Trey and Ariel learn that Wonderland is on the brink of shutting down, can they get over their differences and team up to stop the doors from closing before the Christmas Eve deadline?

I absolutely love reading Christmas / festive romance books throughout the month of December. So, I was beyond excited when I saw this YA romance that is set over the festive period. Not only that, but the fact it focusses on an independent family-owned bookshop and saving it from closure had me wanting to read it immediately.

Trey Anderson is one of the most popular people in town and works at his family’s well-loved Black-owned bookshop, Wonderland. Ariel Spencer is creative and desperately in need of a holiday job to cover her tuition for art school. When there is an opening for a job at Wonderland, it seems too good to be true. Especially when Trey and Ariel learn that Wonderland is on the brink of shutting down. Can they get past their differences and help keep the shop open before the Christmas Eve deadline?

We follow Trey and Ariel in alternating POV chapters throughout this book. Both Trey and Ariel are wonderful main characters. Ariel in particular is such a lovely character. She is dealing with an awful lot of grief throughout this story and at times it is difficult to read. The discussions this brings up are truly heart-breaking, raw and incredibly emotional. Whilst all that is being discussed, we see Ariel’s determination to follow her dream and her amazing passion for art shining through which was lovely to read. Trey is an interesting main character who is also dealing with his own demons throughout the book. I love reading about his family and how close they are and how determined they are to keep their family-run bookshop open.

There are a number of supporting characters in this book. In particular, I liked Santi and Boogs who I would have absolutely loved to have seen more of throughout the book. I enjoyed reading about Ariel and Trey’s wider families too. Every supporting character is well-rounded and excellently written.

This book tackles some important issues. The importance of independent bookshops, especially those owned by marginalised groups. It discusses bigger chains and the huge impact they have on our well-loved independent bookshops. It was refreshing to read.

This book has romance at its heart but it is so much more than that. It is a beautiful story about a community pulling together to support a black-owned bookshop. Also, discussing the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement and its importance with the readers.

Overall, Love in Winter Wonderland is a lovely book to read over the festive period. It is more than just  romance though as it discusses some important topics and shows the need for independent bookshops. I would highly recommend giving this one a read.

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