Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber
Original Title: When Christmas Comes
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Holiday
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Trading Houses. Trading Towns.

Trading Christmas!

Emily Springer, widowed mother of one, decides to leave Leavenworth, Washington, to spend Christmas with her daughter in Boston.

Charles Brewster, history professor, curmudgeon and resident of Boston, wants to avoid Christmas altogether. He figures a prison town should be nice and quiet over the holidays—except he’s thinking of the wrong Leavenworth!

Through an internet site, Charles and Emily arrange to swap houses for the holiday. So Emily goes to Boston—and discovers that her daughter has gone to Florida. And Charles arrives in Leavenworth and discovers that it’s not the prison town—it’s Santa’s village! The place is full of Christmas trees, Christmas music and…elves.

Meanwhile, Emily’s friend Faith Kerrigan travels to Leavenworth to visit her and instead finds Charles, an avowed grinch. Then Charles’s brother, Ray, shows up at his home in Boston to discover that he isn’t there—but Emily is.

Through all the mix-ups and misunderstandings, amid the chaos and confusion, romance begins to emerge in unexpected ways. Because everything changes at Christmas!

This novel is a classic holiday rom-com and one I’m not surprised is actually a reissue. My mom gave me her 2004 copy called, When Christmas Comes, and when I was ready to write this review, I discovered that the publisher reissued it as Trading Christmas. I like the new title because it more accurately describes what a reader will find within its pages. Everyone wants to surprise their favorite person for the holiday but they themselves get the shocks of their lives when they swap houses. It’s like they turned their homes into what we now call Airbnbs. The results are both hilarious (Santa and his elves) and sweet.

This book follows two main ladies, very good friends, Emily and Faith. Then there are two die-hard bachelor brothers, Ray and Charles. Neither party knows what the other is doing. For various reasons they all decide to travel for the Christmas holiday. Some do it to visit the other, one does it to get away from all things Christmas, and another character travels as a favor to his mother. The third is a subplot about Emily’s daughter, Heather. Heather strikes out in independence but eventually has to face the results of her decision and its ramifications. Has Emily’s influence as a mother made a difference in her daughter’s life? Or will she throw it all away on her quest to be ‘adult’? Some of the topics are serious, but all of the intertwined story arcs are fascinating, uplifting, positive, healing, humorous or hysterical (cue the runaway lobster).

If fans of holiday romances have not had a chance to read Trading Christmas, and you have a couple of hours to enjoy some free time, please do give this novel a try. It has everything from snowball fights, sledding, and yummy baked goods, and runs the gamut of emotions; annoyance, astonishment, surprise, happiness, silliness and cute ‘awww’ moments. Then there are begrudging curmudgeons being dragged into the holiday spirit. To see the way the brothers respond to the influence of Emily and Faith is truly delightful, and definitely fun. The guys’ mother is a touch of genius – talk about a drama queen – in the best sense of the term. Even her dog has an attitude. LOL

I’m so very glad I had a chance to read this novel. The romances within are sweet verging on sensual. The progression of their romances are a gradual thing as they share experiences, memories, past hurts and pains until hope for the future starts to grow. The most romantic scenes hold the promise of what could be between them and when it takes root, explodes into passionate kisses and a reawakening of joy and happiness about the Christmas holiday, and life itself. It’s a wonderful mixture that works.

Trading Christmas is worth reading at any time of year, but especially so when Christmas lights and music are actually occurring around the reader. Talk about getting into the season. If you need a jumpstart, then this book just might do the trick.


  1. Lovely review. Can’t go wrong with a Debbie Macomber book!

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