In spite of the fact that I have read a couple of stinker holiday romances lately, I still love this sub-genre. It's not enough to have your story take place at Christmas-time. A real Christmas romance should have some underlying themes that are Christmas-related....things like generosity of heart, love of family, belief in Christmas magic, the occurrence of miracles. (And for holiday erotica, lots of spanking....hee hee!) Here are some of my favorite Christmas reads....
1. Under The Mistletoe by Mary Balogh
Historical romance lends itself very well to Christmas-themed stories. Mary Balogh is the master of sentimental moments. It's a winning combination. This is a super romantic and lovely collection.
2. Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan
You wouldn't think that a bunch of Carpathian vampires would make for a funny, tender, and emotional holiday read, but you would be wrong! This book is an awesome re-visiting of my favorite Carpathian couples. If you are not familiar with the Dark series, I wouldn't recommend it. But if you do like Feehan's books, this one is great. (Skyler and Dimitri make an appearance....yay!)
3. A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
I adore this book. I love stories with wounded heroes....Ian has a big red beard and has been traumatized by his time in the military. He is raw and angry, and only the love of a good woman can bring him joy again. This book kicks ass. Romantic, emotional, sexy. And did I mention the hero has a beard? Just checking!
4. An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James
Even though this book has the most preposterous premise for a historical ever (please see my review), it is still an adorable book. Sweet and satisfying and very Christmas-y. And this is my favorite line from a holiday romance....
"Poppy, what did you think that Christmas was for?"
"Nibbling on gingerbread men?" she whispered.
"I'm your gingerbread man," he said.
5. A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman
This is one of my favorite Amish stories. It is sweet and romantic and the hero has a beard. (Well, he's Amish for God's sake!). I cried reading this one. In a good way. :^)
6. A Christmas Ball by Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan and Alissa Johnson
This is a cute historical anthology, with stories by Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan (Mia Marlowe) and Alissa Johnson. Ashley's story was not my favorite, but I adored the ones by Bryan and Johnson. They were clever and funny and touching. Definitely recommend this one.
7. Santa's Wayward Elf by Paige Tyler
This is a very sexy, quirky holiday erotica. I was totally entertained. (Some other holiday erotica I enjoyed last year....The Christmas Fantasy by KT Grant, with a sexy firefighter and a curvy heroine, and Kidnapped For Christmas by Evangeline Anderson, a "light-BDSM" holiday story.)
8. All I Want For Christmas Is You by Lisa Mondello
I don't normally read traditional contemporary romances like this, but I'm really glad I checked this one out. It's all about family--you can't get more Christmas-y than that. Kyle is a wonderful hero. (Another traditional romance I read this year was Holiday Secrets by Jill Sorenson--it's a Harly!--I loved the surfer hero and the sweet HEA).
9. Christmas Elf by Tielle St. Clare
Another naughty elf story...this one is really funny, too.
10. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Not a romance novel. This is a children's book, and it makes me cry every single time I read it. In fact, my kids often say, "Hey, let's make Mom cry! Get out The Polar Express!" Then we read it and they watch my face on the last page. I start sobbing every time. Beautiful.
Have any favorites to add to the list?