By September 26, 2019 0 Comments Read More →

Do You Read What I Read? 14 Romance Novels for the Holidays

It might only be September, but for romance readers it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas—or Hanukkah! Every year the number of holiday romance titles with which publishers gift readers increases exponentially, and 2019 is no exception. The good news is that with such a bounty of choices, there truly is a holiday love story out there for almost any romance reader. So whether your reading tastes range from something sweet to something sexy, if you like your love stories set in the past or the present day, if you like your books to boldly embrace the holiday spirit or simply give a festive nod to the season, you’ll find it in this best-of-the-bunch list below.

An Amish Christmas Kitchen, by Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Katie Lloyd

This collection of novellas by three best-selling inspirational authors includes Leslie Gould’s “An Amish Family Christmas,” in which the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Christmas market is the setting for a sweet tale of friendship and love; Jan Drexler’s “An Amish Christmas Recipe Box,” in which a young Amish woman uses her family’s Christmas cookies to romantically tempt the boy she loves; and Kate Lloyd’s “An Unexpected Christmas Gift,” in which an invitation to Christmas may hold the key to a woman’s past. As an added holiday bonus, each of these tales includes its own Amish holiday recipe to help readers recreate the taste of an Amish Christmas right in their own kitchens.

Boyfriends of Christmas Past, by Edie Grace

Digital designer Emma Wallace finds herself visited by three boyfriend “ghosts” of Christmases past when she opts to once again focus on her career instead of spending the holidays with her current boyfriend, Sam Cole, whose patience with Emma’s workaholic tendencies is rapidly running out. Grace puts her own fun and funny spin on the classic A Christmas Carol in this sweetly spirited holiday tale, which gifts readers with just the right ratio of love and laughter.

The Christmas Dare, by Lori Wilde

After her fiancé dumps her at the altar and runs off with his best man, Kelsey James decides she is tired of playing it safe in life. Egged on by her best friend, Tasha, Kelsey vows that she is going to spend the rest of Christmas daring herself to say “yes” to what she wants in life. But is what Kelsey wants right now really a chance to reconnect with old high-school sweetheart and former NBA star Noah MacGregor? From its small-town Christmas decorating contests and holiday cookie swaps to its portrayal of the spirit of giving back to the community, the latest sparkling installment in Wilde’s Twilight, Texas series is the perfect mix of sassiness, sexiness, and sweetness.

Christmas from the Heart, by Sheila Roberts

How many times does he have to say no? That is the question on Hightower Enterprises CFO Guy Hightower’s mind when he gets yet another missive from Olivia Berg, begging for a corporate contribution to her charity, Christmas from the Heart. However, when Guy’s fancy sports car breaks down on the way to Pine River, Olivia’s hometown, and he is rescued by Olivia, who then offers him a place to stay while his car is being repaired, Guy figures it might be better if he introduces himself as “Joe Ford.” While staying with Olivia and her family, Guy discovers just how much Olivia’s charity means to the residents of Pine River and just how much he is missing out on by not opening his heart to giving.  No one is better at expertly fusing small-town charm and holiday cheer quite like Roberts, and her latest sweetly satisfying holiday romance so perfectly captures the warmth and good will of Christmas, it is the literary equivalent of watching It’s a Wonderful Life with a mug of hot chocolate and a plate of cookies. (Or, if you prefer, fruitcake, since Roberts offers a selection of fruitcake recipes featured in the book).

Christmas in Silver Springs, by Brenda Novak

After being ditched by her rising rock-star husband, Elle Devlin dries her tears and takes her two daughters home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where she unexpectedly encounters a second chance at love with Tobias Richardson. But Tobias is keeping a secret of his own that could jeopardize any romantic chance he might have with Elle. Novak’s depictions of characters with realistically complicated pasts and plenty of emotional baggage are masterful, and her latest compelling Silver Springs contemporary romance promises to gift readers with another endearing story of heartfelt emotion, hard-won redemption, and plenty of small-town appeal.

The Christmas Keeper, by Jenn McKinlay

Who doesn’t love Christmas? Apparently Savannah Wilson, from what Joaquin “Quino” Solis can see. Despite his best efforts to engage with Savannah and share a bit of holiday cheer, all Quino receives from Savannah is the proverbial cold shoulder. Well, there is nothing Quino likes better than a challenge, and convincing Savannah to drop her bah, humbug act and embrace the spirit of the holiday season has just become the number one thing to check off his holiday list. With ugly Christmas sweaters, ice skating under the stars, plenty of mistletoe and steamy kisses, and best of all, a romance-only bookstore—and a special visit from a celebrated author—the second fun and festive addition to McKinlay’s Happily Ever After series delivers all the things nice romance readers (and naughty ones, too) most crave in their holiday love stories.

Christmas with a Cowboy, by Carolyn Brown

In the latest warmhearted entry in Brown’s Longhorn Canyon Ranch series, Christmas comes early for cowboy and rancher Maverick Callahan when
Bridget O’Malley, the woman with whom he enjoyed a life-changing romantic fling a year ago while in Ireland, suddenly turns up on his doorstep in Texas. No one can evoke the homespun magic of the holidays in the Lone Star State or capture the joys of a family-centered Christmas quite like the irrepressible Brown, whose own joy in celebrating the season shines brightly through her writing.

The Earl’s Christmas Pearl, by Megan Frampton

Lady Pearl Howlett has just gotten the best Christmas gift of her life: the rest of the Howletts are traveling back to their country estate for the holidays and they’ve completely forgotten about Pearl, leaving her behind in England. Pearl is beside herself with joy at the thought of having several days all to herself until she realizes that she forgot there are certain daily tasks she has no idea how to do, like lighting a fire or cooking a meal. Fortunately, Owen Dwyfer, the Earl of Llanover, is staying next door in his godmother’s townhouse, and even if he is the grumpiest of neighbors, Pearl is pretty sure he won’t let her freeze to death. Frampton concludes her A Duke’s Daughter series with a marvelously engaging novella—think Home Alone crossed with Pride and Prejudice—that is expertly gift wrapped with plenty of tart wit and sizzling sensuality.

Finding Christmas, by Karen Schaler

Emmie Sanders thought she had devised the perfect way to get her Scroogey boyfriend, Grant, in the Christmas spirit: a special holiday-themed scavenger hunt, just for him. But due to a mix-up, mystery writer Sam Riley, not Grant, winds up following Emmie’s clues all the way to the town of Christmas Point, where Emmie is waiting. As the two enjoy a variety of holiday activities, Emmie realizes she is having far more fun celebrating the holidays with Sam than she might have had with her boyfriend, Grant. Emmy award-winning Schaler’s screenwriting credits include the Netflix sensation A Christmas Prince as well as the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas Camp, so it really isn’t any surprise that she has the golden touch when it comes to crafting a sweetly satisfying tale of love that also perfectly captures the magic of the holiday season.

Holiday by Candlelight, by Laurel Greer

After an avalanche accident sidelined him from performing surgery, the last thing on earth Dr. Caleb Matsuda feels like doing is celebrating the holiday season. However, the arrival of a new colleague, Garnet James, has Caleb rethinking his pessimistic outlook on life, especially after he discovers Garnet regularly puts her own life in danger by volunteering for search-and-rescue work. Readers searching for those rare romances that incorporate something other than Christmas—in this case, Hanukkah—into a holiday story line will be delighted to discover Greer’s superbly nuanced tale of second chances and the magic of the holiday season.

A Mackenzie Clan Christmas, by Jennifer Ashley

The latest tartan-wrapped literary treat from Ashley contains one new holiday novella, “A Mackenzie Yuletide.” In it, Mac Mackenzie (and an assortment of younger Mackenzies) track a ghost they believe is haunting the family attic while Ian Macakenzie finally locates the perfect Hogmanay gift for Beth . . . only to find he has some competition for the item. Also included is Ashley’s classic, “A Mackenzie Clan Gathering,” in which Ian Mackenzie and his brothers try to track down the thief who’s stolen Hart’s prized paintings. Meanwhile, Ian is tempted with an offer from someone who claims to be able to cure him of his “madness.” The perfect gift of Scottish romance fans.

Oh, Christmas Night, by Jane Porter

California accountant Rachel Mills is tired of always doing the sensible thing when it comes to life. So when Rachel inherits a bookstore in Marietta, she says goodbye to a promotion at work and packs her bags for Montana. Once there, Rachel finds her future plans for the bookstore threatened by sexy Texas businessman Atticus Bowen, who has ideas of his own for the building where Paradise Books currently exists. Deftly imbued with the true spirit of the season and spiced with just the right dash of sensuality, this holiday heart warmer from Porter is the perfect gift for romance readers, especially those who have fantasized about owning their own bookstore!

Right Beside You, by Mary Monroe

Convinced that office romances are doomed, Felicia Hawkins keeps her feelings for coworker Richard Grimes securely under wraps. It’s been a great plan, especially now that Richard’s received an offer for a hard-to-refuse job transfer—and one of his old romantic interests has reappeared. However, what Felicia doesn’t know is that her romantic feelings for Richard have long been reciprocated. And all it takes is one snowy day together for the couple to discover they could have their very own holiday happily ever after. That is, if they’d just take a chance and finally give into their feelings for each other. Brimming with the warmth of the holiday season and graced with a marvelously nuanced pair of protagonists, this superbly written tale shines bright with the power of love in our lives.

A Royal Christmas Wish, by Lizzie Shane

Jenny knows she is no Cinderella, but how else can she explain the fact that she is now suddenly married to Dom, the cute guy she met in Central Park, who just happens to be the Prince of San Noelle? It turns out Jenny’s Christmas wish has been granted courtesy of a mysterious countess, but it comes with strings: promptly at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she must return back to her regular, boring old life! Shane, a RWA Golden Heart winner and two-time RITA finalist, sprinkles in an extra pinch of fairy-tale magic along with a good dash of dry humor in her sweetly romantic Christmas tale.

Seduction on a Snowy Night, by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney

Three New York Times best-selling historical-romance writers come together to celebrate the holidays in a collection of superbly crafted novellas that is guaranteed to be the perfect reading gift for Regency historical fans. In Hunter’s emotionally compelling “A Christmas Abduction,” Caroline Dunham’s carefully calibrated plans to abduct Adam Prescott, Baron Thornhill, take an unexpected turn when the notorious rake turns out to be quite the gentleman. Jeffries skillfully cooks up plenty of sexy chemistry between heiress Cassandra Isles and Colonel Lord Heywood, who insists he isn’t kidnapping Cassandra from a winter ball but instead “rescuing” her from a coldly calculating fortune hunter in “A Perfect Match.” And in Putney’s impeccably written “One Wicked Winter Night,” Lady Diana Lawrence returns home to England after seven years in India to be with her niece and her family only to unexpectedly reunite with the man she once loved and let go, Anthony Raines, Duke of Castleton, at a masked ball.



About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

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