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If You Like …. Holiday Stories

I confess to not being a big consumer of holiday stories but I think I am in the minority. Jayne is a big fan and from the sales of these types of books, Jayne is not alone.

We clearly need to do a recommend a holiday story thread. Please indicate if it is a Hanukkah, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Kwanzaa romance story.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Gina Bernal
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 11:24:43

    I’m usually a bit of a grinch about holiday stories and I’m not a big fan of kids in romances, but I love, love, love Mary Balogh’s novella “The Best Christmas Ever” in A REGENCY CHRISTMAS III from the early 90s. A holiday story narrated in parts by the hero’s young daughter–yes, it surprises me that I like it so much. I still read it every year at Christmas time and it makes me cry every time, so perhaps my heart isn’t two sizes too small.

  2. gwen hayes
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 11:28:20

    I love holiday romance! I have a couple on my phone that I haven’t read yet…but I’m looking for more favorites.

    One of my fave old school romance books had a great holiday season–YEARS by LaVyrle Spencer.

    THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS was another I loved.

    Can’t wait for the rest of the thread.

  3. Jane Richardson
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 11:56:58

    The Wild Rose Press have just released several ‘bundles’ of holiday short stories in e-book, great gift idea for anyone getting an e-reader from Santa this year! I have to confess my own short story set in Venice, Perfect Strangers, is in one of the bundles along with eight (I think) other stories. Lots of holiday reading.

  4. kaigou
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 12:02:50

    “Holiday Outing,” by Astrid Amara. It’s a M/M LooseID title, about a good Jewish boy who goes back home for Hanukkah with every intention of finally coming out to his parents … except his adolescent nemesis (and greatest crush) is staying with the family as well, the two boys’ mothers having been best friends. It starts with the airlines losing his luggage, continues with a massive snowstorm that takes out all power and traps the entire extended family together, and just, well, snowballs from there.

    It’s a sweet novella, but it’s the characterizations that really get me, because I swear I see these people annually at Hanukkah myself. (I know for a fact that some of those conversations, I’ve had with my own mother-in-law.) That aside, the story’s representation of the holiday and its myriad traditions makes the story even more powerful; the traditions underline everything the main character’s risking if his parents don’t take his coming-out well.

    Of course it doesn’t hurt that the romance is sweet & the (eventual) smex is also hot, and that everything ends happily, but the best part is that it’s a real hoot in the getting-there.

  5. Cathy
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 12:17:34

    I recently read “An Enchanted Season,” a collection of holiday-centric short stories. The middle two were good, but I didn’t care for the first and last (though they got good reviews on Amazon, so that may just be personal taste).

    There’s also “Don’t Open Until Christmas,” a Harlequin that I really enjoyed for the first 3/4ths, but then it fell off a bit at the end for me. It was a cute story; the main character is from a town called “Christmas.”

  6. Carin
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 12:36:40

    Lori Foster has been part of several Christmas anthologies I’ve really enjoyed. Jingle Bell Rock and The Night Before Christmas are two of them.

  7. Tara Mari
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 12:57:20

    @gwen hayes: Years–one of my all time favorites :) Teddy and Linnea’s kiss in the snow after she comes back after her Christmas break makes me smile just thinking about it. I’m digging through my keepers to find this one for a reread.

  8. joanne
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 13:45:12

    I tried one new Christmas antho this year and now I’m done trying. No more.
    A CHRISTMAS BALL was such a disappointment. The first story by an author I haven’t read before had me skipping entire chapters. TRADITIONS by Alissa Johnson was the last story and my favorite. The heroine made me love her the minute I met her. The second story by Jennifer Ashley was why I bought the book but it wasn’t a traditional historical. It was part of her (I assume) paranormal series which I don’t read and really won’t now.

    I’ll re-read what I have, someone mentioned Lori Foster and she has does some cute contemporary Christmas stories, or I’ll spend a few hours with Eve & Roarke when I need a holiday romance (with dead bodies).

  9. Alyson H.
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 14:06:04

    Laura Kinsale’s “The Shadow and the Star,” is not a Christmas book, but it has one of the most poignant scenes I ever read, which takes place during a Christmas house party. The heroine witnesses the hero making huge efforts to give another woman an inappropriate but gorgeous gift. . . ah, heartbreak all around.

    It’s been years since I read the book, but thinking about that scene can still bring tears to my eyes.

  10. gwen hayes
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 14:08:22

    @Alyson H.: That was a great scene…so were the brandied cherries.

    How was Wallflower Christmas by Kleypas? I loved the series, but hesitate to plunk hardcover price on ebook.

  11. kerry
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 14:19:09

    I really liked A Midnight Clear by Ciar Cullen, which was one of the Samhain holiday free short stories from last year. Actually, there were several good ones in that group which are still posted at the blog if you look through the freebies category from 2008.

    There’s a set of Harlequin Intrigue Christmas-themed books (Christmas Delivery by Patricia Rosemoor and Christmas Spirit by Rebecca York were two, not sure how many others there are) that I enjoyed.

    Older ones I like are “Deck the Halls” by Heather Allison (contemp) and “Christmas Miracle” by Ruth Langan (Harlequin Historical).

    Also you didn’t mention Halloween but I enjoyed “Halloween Husbands” which was a Harlequin Historicals (Lisa Plumley, Denise Lynn, & Christine Merrill).

  12. Stephanie
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 14:59:21

    If you don’t mind your holiday stories with speculative fiction elements mixed in, I recommend Connie Willis’s anthology “Miracle and Other Christmas Stories.” Several stories, including the title one, have romantic subplots.

    For more traditional fare, I recommend the Christmas romance anthology “A Stockingful of Joy,” which contains one of my favorite Mary Jo Putney novellas “The Best Husband Money Can Buy.” And I often reread Carla Kelly’s “Marian’s Christmas Wish” and “Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand” around this time of year.

  13. theo
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 15:14:09

    The Christmas Wedding Gambit by Jo Beverley is one of my very favs, online, free, short and has a non-traditional heroine. It’s a re-read two or three times over the season each year. She manages to give you a complete story in a short read. Enjoyable.

  14. Andy
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 15:26:25

    Tracy Wolff’s new Harlequin Superromance, The Christmas Present, is excellent.

  15. Camilla
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 15:51:22

    i loved Marry Christmas by Jane Goodger, based in part on the real story of Consuela Vanderbilt, the first paparazzi target.

  16. Michelle
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:02:13

    I love Christmas stories! I’m a huge sucker for the traditional regency Christmas stories and the western historical ones as well. I don’t tend to like novellas, but I faithfully buy (or bought) the signet Christmas novellas, the harlequin historical westerns (and sometimes the european ones) and devour them. I often buy the superromance Christmas stories.

    I love the Carla Kelly short Christmas novellas, and hers would be my favorite. (I didn’t love Marian’s Christmas Wish – a full length novel – but need to read it again to see if it’s better than I remember. I love Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand, Stephanie, and want to love MCW as much.) I also have enjoyed many of Mary Balogh’s and Mary Jo Putney’s Christmas novellas – particularly the one that takes place in Italy – I think sunshine is in the title.

  17. Janine
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:10:04

    @Michelle: That’s Sunshine for Christmas by Mary Jo Putney, and I really enjoyed it as well. It can be found in Christmas Revels and one other anthology, I think.

    I also enjoyed Putney’s The Black Beast of Belleterre which appeared in A Victorian Christmas and in Christmas Revels.

    My favorite Putney Christmas novella so far, though, is The Best Husband Money Can Buy, in A Stockingful of Joy.

    Other Christmas stories I have loved include Mary Balogh’s regency A Christmas Promise and Patricia Gaffney’s novella Second Chance, which appeared in A Victorian Christmas.

  18. Cathy in AK
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:36:14

    The Silhouette RS anthology BLACKOUT AT CHRISTMAS. Three stories about three couples during a Seattle Christmas Eve blizzard. Good stuff. Sharron McClellan’s “Santa Under Cover” is an exciting action-packed romance with a hot Santa : )

  19. JBHunt
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 17:22:23

    Eloisa James’ An Affair Before Christmas was a winner.

  20. Lori
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 18:05:42

    A Wallflower Christmas by Kleypas started my new Historical romance glom. I haven’t read any of the Wallflower books and I picked this up at a library sale because the cover was so lush.

    I liked it and intend to read The Wallflower books.

    I just bought a bunch of HQN Christmas books from their estore and got the Blaze Better Naughty than Nice. 3 novellas all smexy and ho-ho-hot. Loved the Jill Shalvis story and will check out more from her. Vicky Lewis Thompson is always fun to read and I just started the Rhonda Nelson story so can’t say anything yet.

  21. GrowlyCub
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 19:15:30


    I literally just finished re-reading ‘Sunshine for Christmas’ by Mary Jo before I opened this thread. It’s lovely. Every time I read it, I wish it were a full-length novel.

  22. Janine
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 21:13:50

    Seems like an appropriate time to link to my review of Mary Jo Putney’s Christmas Revels.

  23. Jody W.
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 22:40:32

    I second the rec for A Midnight Clear by Ciar Cullen. Samhain is releasing new free holiday stories nearly every day this year in December, too.

    I have an antho of Balogh’s holiday stories I need to dig out and reread now that I’m in a jingly kind of mood.

  24. Donna Kowalczyk
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 23:40:15

    Mistletoe Rules by Stacey Joy Netzel is an excellent Christmas read, I loved it!

    Christmas recipe for love-‘combine a matchmaking Santa, lots of mistletoe, one iron-clad rule, fated hearts; mix and stir. The Riley siblings don't stand a chance.

  25. Liz
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 00:01:49

    i absolutely love Christmas anthologies, especially the novellas by Debbie MacComber. I also really like The Delaney Christmas Carol by Kay Hooper, Iris Johansen, and Fayrene Preston. My favorite Christmas themed book is Holiday in Death by JD Robb; I reread it every Christmas.

  26. LizaL
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 03:53:00

    Connie Willis’ short story “Miracle” is a romantic comedy, like much of her writing- although it was originally published in Issac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (one of my uncles renewed my subscription every year for Christmas when I was a kid. Nerd? Yes.). She has a set of Christmas stories, but “Miracle” I remember best.

  27. Angelia Sparrow
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 04:14:09

    Eight Days Ablaze came out last year. It’s Hanukkah cyberpunk erotica.

    Lawyer Adina barJonas loves Hanukkah. And her papa gives the best gifts. This year, it's the VirtualClone Box, for “a fully integrated sensory experience”. Adina uses it to argue law, meet her heroes and thoroughly indulge herself with some very sexy men over the eight nights of the holiday.

    But Papa and Uncle David have their own agenda, and Adina finds that by enjoying her new toy she has played right into their hands.

  28. Leeann Burke
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 08:10:33

    For me the best Christmas story I have read is IF ONLY IN MY DREAMS by Wendy Markham. She just released a sequel to it called THE BEST GIFT. I read and loved it. Next book to be read is WHERE DREAMS ARE MADE by Anne Hope. It has a Christmas theme in it as well.

  29. Christine Rimmer
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 08:37:39

    Last year I discovered Connie Willis’s DOOMSDAY BOOK. Amazing book, a time travel back to the Middle Ages. Not a romance, but a roaring good story! I’m reading it again this year.

  30. Jeanette Murray
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 13:15:04

    Jinxed, by Inez Kelley from Samhain is a super cute holiday story (Christmas). Great to read any time of the year, but it’s set in the post-Thanksgiving/lead up to Christmas time frame. Absolutely heartwarming, made me tear up at a few places, laughing in others, and you really root for both hero and heroine. Highly recommend it!

  31. WandaSue
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 13:16:18

    My favorite: “Make a Joyful Noise” by Carla Kelly (included in the “A Regency Christmas Carol” anthology. Perfection — at Christmas time, at any time.

  32. Just me, J
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 15:38:09

    @Tara Mari:
    THANK YOU!!! I have loved Years since I first read the mini-version in Good Housekeeping eons ago. I have re-read the novel many, many times since then.

  33. MaryK
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 16:50:26

    @theo: I love The Christmas Wedding Gambit! She has several other Christmas stories in anthologies that are good as well.

  34. MaryK
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 16:54:28


    I recommend the Christmas romance anthology “A Stockingful of Joy,” which contains one of my favorite Mary Jo Putney novellas “The Best Husband Money Can Buy.”

    I love this one, too! A great marriage of convenience story.

  35. MaryK
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 17:15:43

    There are two Lisa Kleypas Christmas novellas that I really like. “I Will” in the Wish List anthology. I like the Lisa Cach in Wish List, as well. The Kleypas was reprinted last year. The H/H fake an engagement and fall in love in the process.

    The second Kleypas is “Surrender” in the Gifts of Love anthology. This one is a reprint from an older anthology. It’s historical, set in Boston I think. The hero’s an Irish immigrant who’s made his fortune and married the sister of a friend. He feels like he forced her into marriage and thinks she despises him, but she’s really just shy.

    ETA: I also recommend A Nice Girl Like You by Alexandra Sellers, an old Silhouette category novel. It’s a little like Sleepless in Seattle – the heroine has to choose between her high society fiance and a new attraction. The hero is very yummy.

  36. gwen hayes
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 11:17:59

    I just bought Harlequin’s ROMANCING THE HOLIDAYS 2009 bundle at Fictionwise and the 100% micropay rebate bumped me enough to get the WALLFLOWER CHRISTMAS free.

    Probably, I should be Christmas shopping for other people today.

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