Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop [Book Review]

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

If you’ve dreamed of running a bookshop, Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar is engaging women’s fiction with a side of romance.

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar (cover) Image: in a snowy scene, a woman dressed in a festive sweater and jeans walks toward a two story shop

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Books About Books, Quaint Coastal Village, Christmas

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary of Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop:

Have you dreamed of running a bookstore?

Magnus is from Iceland and arrives in Cove Lore (a fictional Devonshire village) to run a bookshop for two weeks during Christmas. He’s discouraged in his personal life because of the recent failure of his bookstore business; however, the opportunity to run the bookshop in Cove Lore has been scheduled for quite some time and he feels obligated to fulfill his commitment. Alex is running away from her life after a difficult breakup and takes a sailboat out to sea. During a fierce storm she washes up on the shore of Cove Lore. Kind, thoughtful, and gentle Magnus rushes to her aid. Magnus offers her support and friendship as she recovers from her ordeal and begins to face her situation. On Christmas Eve, a devastating flood hits the village and Magnus and Alex work together to rescue the ruins and keep the Christmas spirit alive.

My Thoughts:

Borrow a Bookshop

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop is an interesting story because this “borrow a bookshop” concept is real! There is a bookstore in Wigtown, Scotland where book lovers wait on a list for years for their opportunity to run a bookshop for two weeks. I first heard of it when a blogger I follow actually went to live and work at The Open Book in Wigtown, Scotland for two weeks. See her account of that here and more information here. So, part of the fun of the book is knowing that this idea is based in reality. Would you consider the opportunity?

A Romance?

Magnus and Alex are likable characters as they support each other personally and help the village during and after the flood. Even though the story has a side of romance (a couple of moderately open-door scenes), I don’t think I’d categorize this story as romance because romance is not the primary focus. There are personal issues to resolve, a community to help, traditions to uphold, and a Christmas to celebrate. I categorize it as women’s fiction with a side of romance.


One thoughtful theme is definitely “supportive community.” The colorful cast of characters in this quaint seaside village rounds out the story. Other themes include helping others, the courage to carry on, supporting friends during their worst times, problem-solving, maintaining tradition, second chances, and hope for a brighter future.

Christmas Spirit

Since Magnus is in charge of the bookstore and the flood has ruined the shop and much of the inventory, he suggests Jólabókaflóð…(in English: Yule book flood) as a way to save the Christmas spirit. This Icelandic tradition where family and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together is catching on in the United States and other countries, Even though the Yule book flood saves Christmas, I think the story can be read at any time of the year because it doesn’t have a heavy focus on Christmas. It just “happens” to be Christmas when the dramatic events of the book take place. For me, it seems that Christmas is part of the setting and not necessarily the focus of the story.

Recommending Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

Does the title attract your attention?! I’m enthusiastically recommending this page-turning story for fans of women’s fiction with substantial themes, for readers who appreciate happy endings and books about books, and for book clubs. I need to note that this book is the second in a series but it can be read as a stand-alone (I haven’t read the first one). This is a series I may continue with!

Related: You might enjoy this post about other books about books and stories set in bookshops and libraries! (listed at the end of the new review)

My Rating:  4  Stars


Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar (cover) Image: a young woman dressed in a holiday sweater and jeans stands outside a shop in a snowy scene

More Information Here

Meet the Author of Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop, Kiley Dunbar

Author of Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop, Kiley DunbarHiya! I’m Kiley Dunbar and I write super cosy, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. I’m a Scot over the border in North England and I’m an academic, so it’s really Dr Kiley 😉

My novel One Winter’s Night was shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021 which made me extremely happy!

CHRISTMAS AT THE BORROW A BOOKSHOP is out NOW and is just as swoony and romantic as it sounds, I hope you love it!

My content/trigger warnings are on my website:

What else? Oh yes, please come and say hello at any of these places where I hang around way too much:

Instagram @kileydunbarauthor

Twitter @KileyDunbar

‘Kiley Dunbar Author Book Page’ on Facebook

website and newsletter:

Thanks so much for your support, love, Kiley, x


Is this heartfelt story on your TBR or have you read it?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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I purchase or borrow from the library all books I review unless explicitly stated that the book is free (arc)

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  1. This sounds lovely. I’ve read two books written by the owner of the Wigtown bookshop but didn’t realise that you could actually go and run it!

  2. I read the previous book in the series, The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday and just loved it. I’ll have to get this one and read it soon.

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