Sure, you could spend Black Friday battling other shoppers in the stores, or planning your Cyber-Monday purchases. But there’s another alternative for this long weekend: curling up in your favorite reading spot with some leftover pie, a hot beverage, and a great book. And if you need recommendations for a seasonally-appropriate read, we’ve got you covered, with great new holiday titles for readers of every type. There’s the usual big names, of course: Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, and a vintage holiday mystery. But if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, here are four new holiday romances perfect for post-Thanksgving recovery…and all winter long.
Meet Me Under the Mistletoe is the third winter romance by Jenny Bayliss, my new go-to author for holiday reads. Like last year’s book, The Season For Second Chances, Mistletoe isn’t a Christmas story as much as a seasonal one. It follows Nory, a bookshop owner who returns to her hometown for a weeklong house party (at a castle!) celebrating the high-society wedding of her longtime friends, and finds herself falling for the estate’s gardener, Issac. The catch? They knew each other when they were kids – he’s her brother’s best friend, who was bullied by the wealthy kids at the posh boarding school Nory went to on scholarship. Even though they’re adults, those class differences still trip them up, and both Nory and Issac have some growing to do before they can make their relationship work. The characters are layered and distinctive, the dialogue is dryly funny, and the romance is expertly balanced between swoony and realistic. Most of all, this is a story about family – the ones we’re born into, the ones we make, and how loving imperfect people is always worth it, in the end.
If you’re looking for something spicier, the latest entry in Lyssa Kay Adams’s Bromance Book Club series, A Very Merry Bromance, might be the perfect fit. The series follows a group of men who form a secret book club, reading romance novels in order to become better partners. Each novel features a fresh take on a familiar romance trope, such as fake dating or enemies to lovers – and in this case, the trope is grumpy/sunshine. Colton is the sunshine, a Christmas-loving country music star who can’t forget the one night he spent with grumpy, Christmas-hating Gretchen. And when she comes back a year later, asking him to help out her family business, he strikes a deal: he’ll help her out if she goes on three dates meant to convince her that Christmas isn’t so bad – and that he’s the one for her. As always, the dialogue crackles, the characters are funny and appealing, and the bedroom scenes are (very) open door.
If gentle romances are more your style, Home for Christmas, by Courtney Cole, is a sweet, Alaskan-set story of Piper, who is struggling to run her family’s resort after her beloved grandmother’s death. Setting out into a blizzard to rescue some wayward guests, she finds herself transported back to 1945, when the resort was only a boarding house and her grandmother a young woman. As Piper adjusts to her new old-fashioned life in an older time, she grows to understand how her grandmother came to be the formidable woman who raised her. She also falls in love with the troubled soldier who lives nearby, bringing a compassionate, modern perspective to the struggles of shell shock. For readers looking for a story steeped in nostalgia and warmth (with only a touch of time-travel) Home For Christmas is a fantastic fit.
Lastly, Roan Parish’s The Holiday Trap is an inclusive, charming take on the house-swap trope – Greta is feeling stifled by her family in her small Maine town, especially after they try to set her up with a man for Hanukkah (despite knowing she’s gay) . Stressed-out accountant Truman just found out that his boyfriend of a year is actually married, leaving him desperate to escape his New Orleans home. Prompted by a mutual friend, they swap houses for the holiday season and naturally, both of them find themselves…and love. But are they really willing to upend their entire lives permanently? The story is funny, vibrant, and captures both icy Maine and lush New Orleans very well – and it also balances heartwarming moments with steamy ones.
Need more recommendations? Stop by ther eference desk or visit The Bookies to request a customized reading list. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of our Winter Gift Guide, packed with great titles for readers of every age and interest, available at both locations!