The past few years, I’ve read maybe one or two winter-themed books during the holiday months, like In A Holidaze and One Day in December. While I loved them, it never occurred to me to seek out other seasonally themed romances and romantic comedies.
This year, though, it feels like everywhere I turn, I see a winter holiday book I want to read.
Maybe I just wasn’t as keyed in to new releases in prior years, but it feels like holiday romance is a big trend this winter season and I am here for it.
Personally I grew up celebrating Christmas, and I love learning about other holiday traditions as well. So, I’ve set a goal of reading as wide a spread of holiday-themed romances as I can this year.
It won’t feel like the holiday season to me until a few weeks into November, but since that’s not that far away, I figured I’d start anticipation rolling by writing about the stack of books I’m hoping to get to this year.
The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
The first acquisition from my holiday stack, The Matzah Ball follows Rachel, a Jewish girl who loves Christmas. In fact, she has a secret career as a Christmas romance novelist which she’s kept hidden from her family.
But then, her publisher demands a Hanukkah romance, and Rachel struggles to find the same spark, leading us to the titular Hanukah ball as she tries to capture the holiday magic. An interesting premise, but that’s not what stuck out to me the most about this book.
You see, Rachel also lives with a chronic illness, and I’ve not had the pleasure of reading too many romances with chronically ill characters. She feels that her condition has gotten in the way of finding the love she writes about, but of course, that’s probably going to prove untrue given the genre.
As someone who has a chronic condition myself, I’m happy to see more and more books centering this experience popping up. Hopefully, this one lives up to my expectations!
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
Twin sisters decide to swap lives at the holidays in The Holiday Swap, which feels like a plot pulled directly from the Hallmark movie lineup.
That’s not a dig — I adore Hallmark holiday movies for all their formulaic cheesiness. If you haven’t played the Hallmark movie drinking game, you should. I often play with water or soda — it’s really all about the joy of screaming out as the clichés come across the screen.
Of course, it’s not a holiday Hallmark experience without cookies, and Charlie and her twin sister Cass are chefs and bakery owners, respectively. While the bakery’s the ostensible reason for the swap of the season, there’s also a rugged firefighter and a gorgeous physician assistant who’ll have to grapple with the mistaken identities. So.. yeah, I’m expecting this to deliver exactly the feel-good holiday sappiness its cover suggests.
A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli
Can I read the title of A Holly Jolly Diwali without hearing Michael Scott from The Office in my head? Alas, no, I cannot. But that didn’t stop me from feeling drawn towards this international adventure of a romance.
Main character Niki is our practically minded protagonist whose life suddenly gets flipped upside down when she is laid off and decides to travel to her friend’s wedding in Mumbai. She meets our love interest, Sameer, at a Diwali celebration, and the two have an immediate connection.
I’m not totally sure what to expect of this one, but it does fit the holiday bill since it starts with the festival of lights and ends with “love waiting for her on Christmas morning.” The fact that its set primarily in India and involves travel as part of the love story intrigued me, and I’m curious to see where it goes.
The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
A friend texted me a link to the Goodreads page for The Twelve Dates of Christmas ages ago, so when it popped up in a promotional email from Book Outlet, I knew I had to snag a copy.
Our protagonist, Kate, has a “bah, humbug” attitude towards dating, particularly in her small town with limited romantic prospects. Except of course the meddling best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises love for the holidays, leading her to 12 dates over the 23 days leading up to Christmas.
This one promises small town vibes and some hilariously awful dates, because surely all 12 can’t be the men of her dreams.
These books have me dreaming of curling up by the fire with hot chocolate and reading my way through the holidays with a plate of cookies at my side. Since I loved theme reading witchy books in October, I suspect I’ll get an extra helping of holiday joy from these titles, too.
I’m hoping to add a few more books to the roster so if you’ve got anything on your list, from old favorites to your holiday hopefuls, let me know!
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