I had carefully crafted a thing on Romance Novels for Christmas that I wrote for today, but I got some AMAZING news last night that I want to share first. Bewildering Stories has included my story in their “best of the quarter” list – the Quarterly Review. I also received the Order of the Hot Potato. Meaning that the honor of inclusion was hotly debated by the editors. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but I’m going with excitement that people are discussing my work. 🙂 Also, not bad for my first really published thing.
This was the nicest Christmas present. Thanks, Bewildering Stories!
And now on to Christmas Romance:
I got it into my head that I wanted to read some Christmas Romance over the last few weeks. The best part about this silly genre is that there are themed things all over the place. Christmas romance of the good kind is prolific if you’re just wanting a sweet falling in love story. Isla and the Happily Ever After; Carry On; Landline; Dear Mr. Knightly; I could go on…
But what I wanted was a good ol’ Historical Romance Novel with all the tropes that are a part of that genre. The hot men, the witty women, the tension, the manor houses, the Christmas decorations. It turns out that this is a VERY hard thing to find. There’s a lot of stuff out there, certainly, but I was having a hard time stumbling into the good stuff. I read about a bazillion things, and I finally found some books that would keep my season steamy. The list is below, so you don’t have to suffer through bad Christmas romance like I did.
I suppose I should also explain something. I hate Novellas. I know – blasphemy. My former English professor would be aghast. But the main reason I like romance novels is to live in another world for a while. And “for a while” doesn’t tend to exist in novellas. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between. So I also tried to avoid all short story collections and novella collections, although I didn’t do it completely.
Here is the list of what I read. If you have any other suggestions, PLEASE send them along.
Christmas Ladies: 3 Full-Length Holiday Regencies (Windham Series) by Grace Burrowes: This is a collection of 3 Christmas novels that were all collected into one e-book. They’re all full length (!!!) and very well done with plenty of Christmas goodness in with the romance goodness. I LOVED the first one, and am in the middle of the second. Best part is that they’re super-cheap right now. You can’t beat the bargain, and the 3 novels will keep you occupied until Christmas comes at this point.
An Affair Before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses, Bk 2) by Eloisa James: I always love James’ stuff. I don’t quite know why, but as soon as you delve into that first chapter you just know you’re in the hands of a master. That was more evident to me after reading all the bad books before this one – it visibly felt like a relief to read the first paragraph. The beginning of the book and the end are all the Christmas you could desire, but the rest of it takes place outside the season. Still a fun romp and an excellent novel.
Mostly worth it:
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas: The story moved quickly and the ending felt too unfinished, but otherwise the book was excellent. Modern, so be warned.
A Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers, Book 5) by Lisa Kleypas: I mean, it features the trope where the guy keeps going even after the girl has said no. And it does it repeatedly. But otherwise this book was excellent, with Christmas tree decorating, some Dickens, and a well done story line.
Under the Mistletoe (Signet Eclipse) by Mary Balogh: A collection of 5 novellas. They’re all good, but I’m not really sure why they decided to put all of these together. In a lot of cases, the stories are so similar that they sort of blended into one another for me without distinction. I would read The Best Gift and Playing House, and then forget the other 3.
Not worth it:
A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale: I found myself cringing so often at the writing, and at the main character’s attitude toward things. Like, your life isn’t complete unless you can have children and that’s your only aim in life? Give me a break, kid. Interactions between her and the hero also felt awkward and forced a lot of the time. I did finish it in short order, so that’s saying something about the story arc itself, I think. But I would skip this one in favor of something less maddening. Also a modern tale.
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