When I first became a writer and member of Romance Writers of America (we’re on hold with that right now) I asked an editor if they accepted Christmas holiday romance stories for anthologies and stand-alones. She said, no, pretty much you had to be invited to write for one and to submit it. That didn’t stop me from writing them. In fact, I have published one in serial form in this blog some years back.
Why are holiday romances so popular? I think in the Regency romances, they are popular because there were excuses for your main characters to get snogging sooner than society would allow other times. But there’s more to it, and in contemporary settings, it comes out as well. That special magic that is found only in winter holidays
I started my Holiday Reading Retreat, as it were, with Mary Balogh’s Someone to Trust, where a young lord who needed to find a bride hung out with an older widow and had more fun than he could believe possible. They snogged under the mistletoe and almost did more. Then they told each other about their lives when they were younger. The bond forged in those fires held them both, all the way to the happy ending.
Christmas After Dark was a fun collection of paranormal shorts that often had me wondering why these people even celebrated Christmas. Vampires, werewolves, and warriors from Atlantis who actually communicated with old gods. Amazing. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory brought a mature couple together and let them make their own decisions about sex and what happened after that. Loved the story and the way real, actual Royalty was used in the story.
Mail Order Bride: Elizabeth’s Christmas is a sweet, simple story from the days when travel coast to coast took weeks and no one entered into it lightly. A chance at a new life was pretty compelling, and the fact that the holidays were close and wishes might be granted added to the drive. How the Dukes Stole Christmas is another Anthology by some big-name Romance writers. You might think there would be some repetition in story concepts, but other than a man called Duke, there were few similarities. Lots of great romance, and extra points to the writer who wrote of Golden Age New York and a hero with the last name of Duke. (All of the books above were reviewed in my Tweet What You Read post for December)
Lighting the Flames: A Hanukkah Story by Sarah Wendell is a young adult story of two talented kids working to keep the summer camp they love in operation by adding a week of Winter Camp over Hanukkah. There are secrets to be told and sorrows to be shared, and lots of sexual tension as the two cuddle for warmth but don’t go further. The ending kept my interest and warmed my heart. A Whole New Duke: A Regency Christmas Story by Samantha Holt was interesting. The Main Characters fall in love quickly but the fear the hero holds keeps them apart, in spite of the spunky heroine throwing herself after every chance to be injured that comes along. I didn’t like the ending so much as I wanted the duke to have his heart grow three times its size and offer a second chance to the villains. Oh, well, not a big deal.
I am currently reading A Mistletoe Affair by Farrah Rochon. This woman can write! I haven’t found much to nitpick in any of the first 6 Chapters. Maybe the hero rubs his face too much. But that’s not a major problem. I keep seeing him as Chadwick Boseman from Black Panther. And this is the only book to touch on a Kwanzaa celebration. It’s giving me lots of holiday cheer and it’s well into the New Year.
Winter and Magic go together since the dawn of people who could remember stories. Solstice is missing and several other festivals, but hopefully the world is changing enough to include those in future stories. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.