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The Wake-Up Call


The Wake-Up Call

Beth O’Leary returns with a holiday-themed, enemies-to-lovers romance that not only will put you in the holiday spirit, but will remind you of the intoxicating effects of true love mixed with steamy, banter-y chemistry. With lots of love perfectly matched by laugh-out-loud humor, THE WAKE-UP CALL may be O’Leary’s best book yet.

One year ago, quirky, friend-collecting, free-spirited Izzy put it all on the line to confess her crush to her bristly coworker, Lucas. She cited their crackling chemistry and asked him to meet her under the mistletoe if he felt the same way, which she was nearly certain he did. He replied, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Regards, Lucas.” Talk about a rejection.

"With lots of love perfectly matched by laugh-out-loud humor, THE WAKE-UP CALL may be O’Leary’s best book yet."

Ever since then, whatever Lucas is doing at the Forest Manor Hotel where they both work as lead receptionists, Izzy is doing it too…only better. Their rivalry is so well-known among the staff that they’ve taken to calling the third receptionist, Mandy, “Poor Mandy,” as she is so often wedged between the two or forced to smooth over uncomfortable disagreements. So far, this has worked just fine. Sort of.

But even Izzy and Lucas can look past their feud long enough to see that Forest Manor is suffering. The hotel barely made it through COVID, and then a series of major repairs drained their accounts even further. Now, despite Izzy and Lucas’ best efforts, it is starting to look like their beloved hotel will not be around for much longer. It feels like the ceiling is falling down around them…but that’s probably because it literally is.

When the ceiling collapses on Izzy and Lucas as they are duking it out over their wedding decorations, the hotel loses its second-floor rooms, several prebooked weddings, and the ability to pretend that they will ever catch up financially. Desperate to keep Forest Manor afloat, the owner, Uma Singh-Bartholomew, instructs Izzy and Lucas to clean out the “lost-property room,” which started as a lost-and-found, but has expanded so much that it now covers a whole room full of clothing, books, furniture and even wedding rings.

Ever the romantic, Izzy takes it upon herself to find the original owners of these rings, citing the fact that you can replace lots of things, but not the most romantic memories of your life. Lucas, a Brazilian immigrant who is both attending school and managing the hotel, scoffs at her romantic fantasies. But even he is swayed when Izzy manages to return a ring to a widower and lands the hotel a $15,000 reward.

With their jobs on the line and the promise of quick financial gain sitting in a box of rings, Izzy and Lucas strike a bargain: they will work on finding their original owners, but the first one to return the next ring wins the chance to boss the other around and make him or her act the way the winner has always dreamed. For Lucas, this means putting an end to Izzy’s whimsical nature; for Izzy, this means forcing Lucas to loosen up and act human rather than like a shiny-shoed robot.

The game is on, but there’s one thing these two ornery coworkers have forgotten. Diving deep into the love stories and romances of guests past and present amid the twinkly glow of the holiday lights (and the clanging of renovation) will force them to confront their own feelings about love…and each other. As they fight for the place and the job they love just about more than anything, they start seeing the ways in which they have been passive in their own lives --- particularly romantically --- and begin to see the good in one another as well.

THE WAKE-UP CALL is O’Leary’s most lighthearted, magical and romantic novel to date. Izzy and Lucas sing as romantic leads, and I adored Izzy’s “grab life by the horns” attitude, especially as compared to practical Lucas and his cautious, considerate nature. The fact that the book begins with perhaps the most crushing rejection I’ve ever read only makes every ensuing quip, steamy encounter or meaningful gaze all the more enticing, and adds to the visceral chemistry between these two characters.

Add all this to the magic of the holidays and the glamour of the old hotel, and you have the makings of a perfect pick-me-up of a romance that is as weighty as it is humorous. Beth O’Leary can do no wrong!

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on September 29, 2023

The Wake-Up Call
by Beth O'Leary