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An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne Book Review

Updated: Jan 24


An Ex for Christmas

by Lauren Layne

Published by Loveswept


When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas.


Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.


Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.


RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:

Steamy Rom-Com Sweet & Fun

An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne is a short and sweet romantic comedy, that centers around superstitious, horoscope believing Kelly Byrne, who encounters a stranger on her way home upstate for Christmas, telling her she will find the love of her life by Christmas, and it is someone she already knows. So Kelly makes a list of her ex-boyfriends, expecting to find her "one". What she doesn't expect, is the feelings she starts to develop for her best friend for the last ten years, Mark Blakely, and if she caves to the sudden sexual tension between them, will it destroy the most important relationship to her, their friendship?


So, confession time.

I hate Hallmark movies.

Please don't throw your cyber trash at me.

I just can't get over bad acting, despite them being romances that, hell, I love. Lauren Layne can always be counted on for a fun and light romance, and this cute friends-to-lovers story hits all the points in what you would want for a) a romance, and b) a Christmas story. I got all the feels reading this, and I won't lie, shed a tear or two. Was it predictable? Sure! But I couldn't put it down. Lauren Layne has a way of tugging on your heartstrings for sure.


The characters were so freaking adorable in this book! Kelly is one of those sweetheart, perky types, who loves her family and friends with everything she has. Mark kinda reminds me of my husband in his personality. I love how thinks Kelly's beliefs in superstition is ridiculous, but tolerates them (unless it's getting in the way ..._ Openly admits he is unromantic (although, obviously, he is with the right person), and his dry sense of humor plays really well with Kelly's extroverted personality. They were a really well written pair.


If you are a lover of annual Hallmark Christmas movies ( or if you are not, like myself ), you will love An Ex for Christmas. It's short, so you don't have to invest a lot of time into it, its super adorable, the chemistry is hot, its entertaining ... you won't go wrong with this little Christmas love story.


Favorite Moments

  1. Their dog <3

  2. Mark teaching Kelly how to cut down a christmas tree

  3. Mark coming over and making dinner for them so Kelly wouldn't be alone decorating the tree

  4. Kelly and Mark's snowball fight

  5. Mark kissing Kelly's cheek under her mistletoe

  6. The. First. Time!!!!!!!

  7. Cuddling

  8. Mark and Kelly's argument after the parade, and Mark saying he deserves better than "I think" (which, damn right he does!)

  9. Christmas morning. The "Love Actually" signs, the corsage Mark saved from when he was working up the nerve to ask her to prom, and they used it as a tree topper, the magic 8 ball that Mark altered, everything!


Where to Buy



Favorite Quotes


Kelly: "Besides, my horoscope says I'm due for a brush with bad luck today. I'm pretty sure it was dropping my mascara into the toilet this morning, but I'd be nuts to get on a plane with that sort of forecast."


Kelly: "You'll never guess what happened to me at the train station."

Mark: "Hmm?"

Kelly: "Okay, if I tell you, you have to not roll your eyes and tell me I'm a crackpot. Promise?"

Mark: "No."


Kelly: "Is it true that guys think women in elf costumes are hot?"

He gives me an incredulous look.

Mark: "What?"

Kelly: "You know,"

gesturing at midthigh

Kelly: "Striped socks? Short green skirt? Cute little hat?"

He shakes his head

Mark: "Times like this, I deserve an award for having a female best friend."


Mark: "Starbucks?"

Kelly: "You think Starbucks is overrated."

Mark: "I also think I can buy my way out of this conversation with a froufrou peppermint whatever."

Kelly: "You're not wrong."


Jack: "Hey, man. Got anything good on tap these days?"

Mark: "No. Nothing good. Went out of my way to stock the shittiest beer I could find."


Kelly: "So, my mistletoe test with Jack."

He closes his eyes.

Mark: "Nope."

Kelly: "It was ... well, it was conclusive, but not in the good way."

He sighs in resignation and opens his eyes.

Mark: "Meaning?"

Kelly: "Eh. Well, we kissed ... and ... What are those little chickens you serve at the restaurant sometimes? But they're not called chickens."

Mark: "Cornish game hens?"

Kelly: "Right. Those. Anyway, the second Jack put his hands on my waist, all I could think was that his hands felt like Cornish game hens. Like ham hands, except ... little chicken hands."

Mark: "You've decided he wasn't the one because his hands are like Cornish game hens."

Kelly: "Yup."


Mark: "What do you need it for?"

Kelly: "I don't have a Christmas tree yet."

He groans

Mark: "So, you want to not only borrow my truck, but fill it with pine needles."

Kelly: "It's a truck. It's supposed to have a messy destiny."


Mark: "How do trees have character?"

Kelly: "You know, quirks. Flaws. Bald spots. I never trust anyone that's too perfect."

Mark: "I'm perfect."

I smile at his matter-of-fact tone.

Kelly: "Yes, honey. Maybe that's why we've never dated, you see? You're too smart, too good-looking, too confident."


Kelly: "This one."

Mark stands beside me and gives it a skeptical once-over.

Mark: "What about that patch of dead branches in the middle?"

Kelly: "Beauty mark."

Mark: "The way the top curves to the right?"

Kelly: "She's curvy."

Mark: "K. What about the dead bird on the left?"

I gasp and frantically look for the dead bird, then sock his shoulder when I realize he's joking.


Mark: "There."

he murmurs, his voice just a tiny bit raspy

Mark: "It's not quite as thick higher up the trunk."

Annnnnnnd now we're talking about thickness. And trunks.


I groan when I see Rigby. His holiday sweater is now totally covered in brown mud.

Kelly: "Oh, baby. You're a mess."

Mark: "Sort of like his mom."

I glare at Mark as I begin to walk backward.


Kelly: "Happy now?"

He's watching Joey's retreating back with fake confusion

Mark: "Was he not the one?"

My eyes narrow

Kelly: "Did you know?"

Mark: "Know what - that he hasn't been pining over you all this time?"

Kelly: "That he's having a baby?"

Mark: "Nope. Sort of regretting I didn't see your face when you found out, though. What are you thinking ... stepmom?"

I jab a fist into his ribcage.


Mark: "Even without the baby on the way, he was never going to be the one."

Kelly: "You don't know that."

Mark drops the mistletoe in my lap

Mark: "Don't I?"


Kelly: "Where's his snowman costume?"

Mark: "Burned it."

Kelly: "I hope you didn't put it the washing machine - it's hand wash only."

Mark: "Yeah, Kelly. I hand washed a dog sweater. Sounds just like me."


Mark: "Sulking?"

Kelly: "Nah. It was more embarrassing than anything. Did I tell you he didn't even recognize me? I know it was a high school relationship, but come on. He touched my boobs."

Mark gives a slight smile

Mark: "Your boobs are memorable?"

Kelly: "I thought so."


Mark: "You know, right, that those are going to be a bitch to remove. You've got all the cords tangled."

Kelly: "He who does not deck the halls does not get a say."

Mark: "Ah, I see. So does it also go that she who does not cook does not eat?"

Kelly: "Nope, does not go that way."


Mark: "It's not about being a size four. It's not about being a size anything."


Rigby hops up beside him, melting my sappy heart by putting his sweet face on Mark's knee. Then my heart turns into even more of a puddle, because Mark's big hand rests on the dog's head, his fingers rubbing gently.

Lucky dog.

I wince. Stupid girl.


Kelly: "CliffsNotes version? Psychic lady at the train station tells me that I've already met my one true love. And because I can actually feel my ovaries shriveling up and don't want to die an old maid, I decided to track down exactly who she's talking about."


Mark: "You're right."

I cup my ear and lean in

Kelly: "Hmm?"

He pushes a wet gloved hand against my face

Mark: "Shut it. You know you're right."


Kelly: "Come inside. I'll make us a late lunch to thank you."

Mark: "Better idea. You come to my place, and I'll make us a late lunch."

Kelly: "But -"

Mark: "Kelly, I've had your cooking. The best thank-you you can give me is not to subject me to it."

I laugh

Kelly: "Fair enough."


Kelly: "Seriously? You're going to walk me the twenty steps to my back door? What do you think's going to happen - I'll get lost and walk into a snowbank?"

Mark: "Remember the senior year camping trip when you got lost going to the porta-potties that were fifty feet away? They had to send out a search party."

Excellent point.


Mark: "You don't need this stupid ball to decide."

Kelly: "Call it a stupid ball again and I'll knee your stupid balls."

He smiles and wraps an arm around my waist.

Mark: "No you won't."

Kelly: "I might!"

Mark: "Nope."


Mark: "All right. You need someone to make this decision for you?"

I nod and hold out my hands for the ball with a smile.

In response, he tosses it backward into the hall, where it rolls and collides with the wall

Kelly: "Hey!"

I try to go for it, but he wraps an arm around my waist, propelling me backward until my feet are off the ground and I land flat on my back on the bed with an oomf.

Mark follows me onto the bed, caging me in with his big body.

Mark: "Ask me."

he orders, pinning my wrists over my head with one hand.

Kelly: "Ask you what?"

Mark: "Ask me what you asked the damn ball."

I swallow.

Kelly: "Should I sleep with Mark again?"

His smile is slow and confident as he slowly lowers his body to mine.

Mark: "It is certain."


Mark: "You know me, Kelly. Better than anyone."

His thumbs brush against my cheeks tenderly, at odds with the fierce look on his face.

Mark: "You know me, so you know I don't like to share."

Kelly: "I know."

Mark: "What's it going to be, Kelly? Do we see where this thing with us goes? Or are you holding out for your Christmas miracle?"


Kelly: "All this time you've never wanted me like that, and I'm afraid you'll remember all the reasons you didn't, and -"

Mark stamps out my babbling with a searing kiss

Mark: "I've wanted. God, how I've wanted."


Kelly: "I didn't take you for a cuddler."

He's silent for a moment

Mark: "I'm not."

I pat his forearm, which is wrapped around my waist.

Kelly: "Hate to be the one to tell you this, but this right here? Cuddling."

Mark: "I meant that I'm not usually. Not before."

Kelly: "Not before ...?"

I feel him smile against my neck, stubbornly refusing to answer. I smile, too, because I know what he's not saying.

Not before me.


Kelly: "Are these the salted caramel shortbread brownies?"

He shrugs

Kelly: "You said you wouldn't make them anymore. That they weren't worth it."

He looks at me. Looks away.

Mark: "The look on your face right now is worth it."


Mark: "Can we please eat?"

Kelly: "Fine, fine. But remind me why we're eating out in your truck when there's an, oh, what's it called ... a restaurant a few feet away?"

Mark: "That place sucks."

Kelly: "Yeah, I've heard that. The owner and head chef's a real dick."

Mark: "Mmm."


Kelly: "The only thing that matters is that you're happy."