Review: ‘The Matzah Ball’ by Jean Meltzer
The Matzah Ballby Jean Meltzer
Published by Mira on September 28, 2021
SubGenres: Contemporary Romance
Audience: 18+/Rated R
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Oy! to the world
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.
But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.
Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.
The Matzah Ball is the debut novel by Jean Meltzer, and after reading it, I’ve added her other books to my TBR. Jean’s debut novel is all about two characters who get a second chance, but they have to get over the past first before that can happen.
The FMC, Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt, is the daughter of a famous Rabbi, but she’s hiding the fact she’s a successful romance author who writes Christmas romances. She’s never written a Hanukkah romance novel until her publisher requests her to write one. She’s not sure if she can until she finds out there is a Matzah Ball that could give her inspiration. The issue is that the Matzah Ball is sold out, and she has no way of going until she finds out that Jacob Greenberg, the boy who broke her heart, is hosting it.
I don’t read many holiday romances, not even Christmas ones, but I’m going to change that in 2024. This was my first Hanukkah romance, and I’ve added others after reading this one. I enjoyed learning more about the Jewish faith and celebrations through the main characters and their story.
I’m glad that Jean Meltzer had two POVs for this story because I would not have enjoyed it otherwise. I need to read both characters’ POVs to know what they are feeling and get two sides of the story.
I did feel that this book was more Chick Lit than Contemporary when reading it, but that didn’t stop me from reading it. It was the fact I couldn’t believe characters in their thirties still had a grudge after all these years for what happened when they were twelve. They could have easily communicated with one another.
I did like Rachel and Jacob at times, especially when they both were trying to fight their attraction to one another. It was obvious Jacob had feelings, but he was focused on the Matzah Ball and wanted everything to go as planned. He also had things he was dealing with that Rachel didn’t know about. Rachel was focused on trying to get inspiration for her novel, but she was keeping things about herself hidden. I wished she would have been up front but I understood her hesitation. When Jacob found out what she was hiding, he was there and may have won me over. (Actually, he did win me over.)
This was the first book I read in which the FMC has a chronic illness (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I felt for her character and how she had to adjust her life due to her chronic illness, but she wasn’t going to let her stop her from living her life. I found Rachel relatable because I have suffered from an invisible chronic illness since I was in my mid-twenties.
I’m glad I came across this book thanks to another book blogger having Hanakkah recommendations on her blog. It has a Hallmark feeling to it and I could easily see this book being turned into a movie, especially since it’s a cute story. I definitely need to read more sweet stories like this one in 2024.
Story Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️.5
Standalone or Part of Series: Standalone.
Would I recommend this book? Yes.
Genre/SubGenre(s): Romance | Contemporary Romance | Hanukkah Romance
Trope(s)/Element(s): Enemies to Lovers | Second Chance at Love | Chronic Illness