After a week off I’m back with another review. This time the holiday’s are coming a little early and I’m reviewing Nick and Noel’s Christmas Playlist by Codi Hall. The book comes out in ebook and paperback on October 5, 2021. I thought this book was wonderful and totally got me in the Christmas spirit (maybe a little bit too early.) Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Cassablanca for the chance to read this ARC.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this book. Childhood best friends to lovers during the Christmas season, such a great combination. Nick comes home from the military, for good, to what he thinks will be a wonderful holiday homecoming with his family and long-term girlfriend. But he comes home to find his girlfriend has been cheating on him and dumps him not even a day after he gets home. Meanwhile Noel, a busy nurse and Nick’s best friend, has just found out that her latest casual hookup has started seeing someone else without telling her. So when Nick and Noel end up at a bar with some friends and they see both of their exes things go a little sideways when the two friends end up kissing. After that their long-time friendship starts to get questioned as they start to realize there may be some more feelings between them. Exploring more than a friendship can be scary but it can also be completely worth it.
Noel’s parents dies in a car crash when she was younger so Noel has always been hesitant to get close to anyone. She has Nick’s family but even they get pushed away at times, so opening up her heart to a real relationship and love is difficult. This definitely made the change in Nick and Noel’s relationship a slow burn but I don’t think it would’ve worked any other way. I liked seeing nick remain cautious with Noel and not rush into things too quickly because he knew it would scare her off. You could tell throughout the book they were both falling for each other a lot, and had maybe had some of those feeling for longer then they initially realized. I also truly loved their shared love for music, the memories that were connected to certain songs for them, and the playlists they’d make each other for all kinds of occasions. Music was a real element of connection for them, even more so when they have to sing together at a holiday event.
I loved how supportive Nick’s family was. His sisters pushed Nick and Noel to be together more than Nick did at times. And even though his parents weren’t as pushy you could tell they were both very supportive. The whole family also knew that Nick had to be caution and made that quite clear to him which I admired. They all really took into account Noel’s feelings and issues with letting people in.
That was something else I absolutely loved was how Nick’s family treated Noel like their own. They helped raise Noel after her parents passed away and even after moving out she is still included in every family activity, gathering, and event. They never get bothered when Noel starts to push away because she doesn’t want to be close to people and are respectful of boundaries. But they still make it known to her that they want her to feel included in their family and that she should never feel like a stranger to them. I’d honestly love to read a whole story about either of Nick’s sisters - which is happening, Codi has an audiobook coming in November about Nick’s sister Merry. Both sisters had such wonderful and enthusiastic personalities. I also thought the dynamic between Nick and his sisters was really entertaining to read and would love even more of that (and hopefully there will be more in the books to come!)
Of course, there had to be a little drama to add to the mix and in this story it’s cause by Nick’s ex Amber, who had always had a rivalry with Noel, always seemed to be nearby. Amber was also close friends with Noel’s best friend which mad things difficult when they had to work together to help their friend. I did find the rivalry between Amber and Noel a bit childish at times especially when you could tell they were trying to push each other even just a bit. I felt like the rivalry just kept dragging on and was on the verge of being a bit of an interference to the story at times. As much as I though it might have seemed a bit childish it was obvious there was zero effort being put in to end the feud on Amber’s end which drove Noel a bit insane while trying to be civil for their friends. Amber did love to make Noel question herself and also tried, maybe a bit too hard, to remain friends with Nick. I felt some sympathy for Noel at those times as you could tell that some of the things Amber said truly affected her. I thought the ending the two came to was quite appropriate and didn’t feel rushed or forced at all. I don’t think every part of a story has to have an overly happy ending and I was glad that’s not the direction that storyline went. Noel and Amber still have their issues but agreeing to be civil for the sake of mutual friends is a sufficient ending.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a perfect holiday read that I honestly think could be read at any time of the year. The story truly had such great Christmas spirit throughout. It will certainly be on my list of books to read this holiday season and I can’t wait to get a physical copy of it. I hope you all enjoyed the review and I'll be back soon with another one.