Ali Reads... Holiday Romances

December 20, 2019

 

With the holidays upon us in a mere handful of chaotic days, Ali Williams brings us a selection of her favorite winter romances to make you smile and help refill the well.

 

Remember, just click on the cover and a link will take you there.

 

 

I love the holidays.  Firstly, there's the whole having time off work, then there's the potential for getting snowed in, and then there are the romances.  Each December brings with it a flurry of holiday-themed romances, and this month I'm sharing some of my favorites.

 

But there's more than just Christmas happening over this period though - read on for romances set during Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Chanukah and New Year and Chinese New Year celebrations, as well as some beloved Christmas offerings!  I've organised this month's recs in order of when they happen.

 

 

Winter Solstice (22nd December 2019)

 

 

Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night by Katherine Fabian and Iona Datt Sharma

 

Layla and Nat have nothing in common but their boyfriend – enigmatic, brilliant Meraud – and their deep mutual dislike. But when Meraud disappears after an ambitious magical experiment goes wrong, they may be the only ones who can follow the trail of cryptic clues that will bring him safely home.

 

To return Meraud to this world, the two of them will confront every obstacle: the magic of the wild unknowable, a friendly vicar who's only concerned for their spiritual wellbeing, and even the Thames Water helpline. All of which would be doable, if only they didn’t have to do it together.

 

But the winter solstice is fast approaching – and once the year turns, Meraud will be lost forever. In this joyously queer novella, Nat and Layla must find a way to overcome their differences before it’s too late.

 

 

 

Stone and Shell by Lloyd A. Meeker

 

Eight-year-old Howie Evinger is convinced that his dad would be happier if he found a new husband. Howie would be happier, too. And somewhere out there in the city of Vancouver, there’s the right man for his dad to love. But how to find him? That’s a problem, especially if you’re just a kid and your dad says he doesn’t want another husband.

 

With the help of his quirky aunt, Shanna, who calls herself a Buddhist Wiccan, Howie builds his very own solstice altar with cool symbols to support his search. It has a candle, a feather, and a twisty stick, plus an agate for his dad, and a scallop shell for his new husband. Share Howie’s solstice adventure as he learns how real magic requires courage and patience as well as symbols.

 

 

 

 

 

The Longest Night by Yasmine Galenorn

 

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and the past few years have been dark for Merilee Johansson.

 

After an acerbic divorce, Merilee moved to Starwood, a small mountain town devoted to the arts. Here, she hopes to heal from the wounds life has left on her heart and her self-esteem.

 

What she doesn't expect is for Chris Hunter to enter her life, bringing the promise of love on the darkest night of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Solstice in Draga by Emma Dean

 

Adelina and her mates are celebrating their first Winter Solstice together as a family.

 

It's been three months since the end of the war and Adelina's coronation. Ruling as queen of four systems isn't all work and no play. The Winter Solstice ball is proof of that. Her and her husbands are starting new traditions and laying the foundation for their future.

 

They exchange gifts on the longest night of the cycle and Adelina has something special planned.

 

 

 

 

Ice Over Brook by Lyra Evans

 

Calder Townshend hates his name. All it brings to mind are lavish balls and elitist nobles and the constant pressure of his mother to marry up. But when he’s at work as a border guard for Nimueh’s Court, Calder goes by a different name—Brook. And then, everything changes. As Brook he’s a border guard first, and he’s damn good at his job. So much so, he’s even made friends with Alpha Connor Pierce and his mate Oliver Worth, Leaders of the Werewolf Court. As Brook, he’s got respect and dignity and control. Except when it comes to one particular Werewolf border guard…

 

Jackson Racer is impossible to read. He’s tall and lean and mischievous to a fault. He’s been playing with Brook’s heart since the day they met on the border, and Brook can’t handle it anymore. He needs to get over Racer—and the two weeks he has off for the Winter Solstice are a perfect time to try.

 

Until Oliver Worth asks Brook to take on a case—with Jackson Racer. Now Brook has to go undercover to infiltrate an illegal potions ring to find the leaders and their stash. And if being partnered with Racer wasn’t bad enough, their aliases have them pretending to be lovers. But as the Winter Solstice draws nearer and the weather turns icy, heat rises between Brook and Racer and danger is everywhere.

 

Now they’re playing parts with the suspects and with each other. Will this Winter Solstice bring further frost, or will it melt the ice over Brook’s heart once and for all? And can they work together to solve the case before it, too, goes cold?

 

 

Chanukah (22nd-30th December 2019)

 

 

Burning Bright Anthology by Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern and Jennifer Gracen

 

This December, take a break from dreidel spinning, gelt winning, and latke eating to experience the joy of Chanukah. When you fall in love during the Festival of Lights, the world burns a whole lot brighter.

 

It’s definitely not love at first sight for Amanda and her cute but mysterious new neighbor, Ben. Can a Chanukah miracle show them that getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean they can’t walk the same road?

 

Lawyers in love, Shari Cohen and Evan Sonntag are happy together. But in a moment of doubt, he pushes her away—then soon realizes he made a huge mistake. To win her back, it might take something like a Chanukah miracle.

 

When impulsive interior designer Molly Baker-Stein barges into Jon Adelman's apartment and his life intent on planning the best Chanukah party their building has ever seen, neither expects that together they just might discover a Home for Chanukah.

 

All Tamar expected from her Israel vacation was time to hang out with one of her besties and to act like a tourist, cheesy t-shirt and all, in her two favorite cities. She definitely was not expecting to fall for Avi, a handsome soldier who’s more than she ever dreamed.

 

 

Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West

 

Sometimes the perfect Chanukah gift can change everything.

 

Newly divorced stone butch Jordan moves into her friend Leah’s spare room, ready, at 49, to take on a new job and finally explore kink and polyamory. But moving to NYC during the holidays sends grief crashing through her, and Jordan realizes that when she isn’t solely focused on caring for others, her own feelings are unavoidable. Including her feelings for Leah.

 

51 year old queer femme Leah, an experienced submissive kink educator who owns a sex shop, has recently come to terms with being gray ace and is trying to rework her life and relationships to honor that.

 

Leah has a brainstorm to help them both: she offers Jordan eight kink lessons, one for each night of Chanukah, to help Jordan find her feet as a novice dominant, and to create a structured space where Leah can work on more deeply honoring her own consent, now that she knows she’s gray ace.

 

She’d planned to keep it casual, but instead the experience opens cracks in the armor Leah’s been using to keep people at a distance and keep herself safe. Now she needs to grapple with the trauma that’s been impacting her life for years.

 

Can these two autistic queers find ways to cope with the changes they are making in their lives and support each other, as they build something new they hadn’t thought was possible?

 

 

 

Dreaming of Hanukah by Joanne Dannon

 

Curl up by the fire with a sufganyiot (donut) or two, with your favourite drink and celebrate the magic of Hanukah with these linked, heart-warming stories about love, hope and family.

 

When falling in love isn’t as easy as falling in love. Lisa Sassoon has shunned the scandal of her loser ex-boyfriend cheating on her by escaping to New York. Gabe Olivari, entrepreneur and savvy business New Yorker, can’t let go of the pain of losing his best friend. Can a dash of Hanukah magic help Lisa and Gabe realise that sparkling dates and dreamy kisses can lead to more? Perhaps even a lifetime of happiness?

 

The Festival of Lights will light their way to love.For Ben Sassoon, the pain and anger of the long-ago heartbreak are still fresh. Kate Silver never meant to hurt him, but Ben was part of the past she’d needed to escape. But the magic of Hanukah brings a renewal of Kate’s faith and pride in her heritage. Can it also bring a renewal of the love she once shared with Ben?

 

After the shock of discovering her long-term boyfriend cheating on her, Becky Sassoon trades the Australian summer for a month in snowy New York, where she can focus on her future as a writer.She's sworn off long-term relationships for now...though a vacation fling wouldn't be amiss.When she meets Jules Olivari, a handsome, charming, intelligent New Yorker, he seems like the perfect distraction. Not only has he a reputation for charming women, he apparently has no interest in settling down. Jules never expected to meet someone like Becky, and he's never committed to a long-term relationship before. He doesn't want to hurt Becky, the woman he's now accidentally fallen for. Can a dash of Chanukah magic open both their hearts to love?

 

 

 

 

Eitan's Chord by Shira Glassman

 

Fairy magic requires fairy intimacy, so when the three Chanukah fairies—cute butch Latke, enthusiastic party girl Dreidl, and their elegant leader Menorah—decide to help an impoverished young couple, a fairy romp is in order!

 

Eitan, a trans man, and his cis wife Abigail work retail and live on love in a studio apartment with broken blinds. If only Abigail’s beaded jewelry would sell online, they’d have a little more cash, but nobody’s biting. While they sleep, the fairies bring the miracle they’re looking for. 

 

 

 

 

Hearts Alright by Elliot Cooper

 

Dave Cunningham hates the rampant consumerism that’s come to dominate his family’s Hanukkah celebrations. But a chance to bring a bit of a holiday happiness to his long-time crush, Amit Cohen, helps put him in a more festive mood.

 

In the quest to craft the perfect gift, Dave tries to urge a few personal details out of stoic Amit. Unintentionally, he learns the Cohen family’s secret: Amit is a golem.

 

But Amit has a problem that runs deeper than his magical origin, and a Hanukkah miracle might be the only thing that will keep the budding flame between him and Dave from going out.

 

 

Christmas (25th December 2019)

 

 

A Wedding One Christmas by Therese Beharrie

 

Of all the weddings in all the world, Angie Roux had to be mistaken for a bridesmaid in this one.

 

Caledon, South Africa, is supposed to be just a stop on the way to Christmas in Cape Town, part of Angie’s long-avoided homecoming. She never expected to star in a bizarre comedy of errors, but here she is: convincing a handsome stranger to be her fake boyfriend for the day.

 

Ezra Johnson, the handsome stranger in question, turns out to be a pleasant distraction from both the wedding and thoughts of her first family Christmas without her father. And he seems to loathe weddings just as much as she does. He’s the perfect temporary companion.

 

But a lot can happen in twenty-four hours. Including a connection so strong it tempts them both into thinking of something more permanent...

 

 

 

Christmas at the Palace by Jeevani Charika

 

Not even in her wildest imaginings did Kumari ever think she'd become a princess. But having fallen for Ben - or rather Prince Benedict, sixth in line to the throne - it looks like nothing will ever go as planned again. And as Christmas rapidly approaches the distinction between family festivities and Royalty becomes ever more apparent.

 

With the paparazzi hounding her, her job on the line and some rather frustrating royal training, Kumari feels panic set in.

 

Does loving Prince Charming mean she'll get her fairy tale ending - and on her own terms?

 

 

 

 

Unwrap Me by Jack Harbon

 

When college sophomore Danny Simmons returned home for the holidays, he'd expected to find his mother with a tray of goodies and his siblings bickering just like old times. He'd even been prepared for his father's obnoxious and mildly-offensive jokes.

 

What he couldn't have predicted was the gorgeous Trevor Gutierrez spending the holiday break with his family.

 

With his deep laugh, scruffy exterior, silky voice, and smile that could melt the snow in the front yard, Danny finds it impossible to resist his father's coworker. Luckily, he doesn't have to, because it seems all Trevor wants for Christmas is Danny, and Danny is more than happy to give him that gift.

 

 

 

A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas by Jackie Lau

 

Greg Wong hates when things don’t go according to plan, so he definitely doesn’t appreciate it when his mother insists he drive Tasha Edwards back to Mosquito Bay for the Christmas holidays. He likes peace and quiet when he’s in the car, and that’s the opposite of what he’ll get with Tasha, his high school sweetheart. The first woman he ever loved.

 

Not that he has feelings for her now. Of course not. Though while he’s trying not to smile at her laughter and terrible singing, he can’t help noticing how beautiful she is.

 

And then his plans veer further off course when a snowstorm forces them to spend the night in an unheated motel room with only one bed…

 

 

One Christmas Song by AC Arthur

 

When a vibrant singing career brings her back to Temptation, R&B singer Cordelia “CeCe” Lennox, is secretly happy to be back in her hometown, where life moves at a slower pace.

 

Property manager, Rick Stewart is elated to learn that his newly renovated Holidays Inn, was selected as the location for the filming of a music video. Knowing that the video will bring home his high school crush, is going to be Rick’s best gift ever—especially since he’d never stopped loving her.

 

But when Ms. Millie breaks her leg, Mr. Otis proposes, Cordy finds out that Rick has been lying to her all these years, and a surprise guest shows up at the Inn, the town of Temptation may have its merriest Christmas yet!

 

 

Kwanzaa (26th December 2019 - 1st January 2020)

 

 

 

 

No Ordinary Gift by Farrah Rochon

 

The holidays aren't so festive when you're celebrating by yourself. But with a little luck and a lot of love, three single women find their soulmates and get the holiday weddings of their dreams in the Holiday Brides anthology,

 

Kemah and Tyson come from different sides of the tracks. They had the start of something real, but Tyson got scared.

 

Now that a special Kwanzaa celebration has thrown them together again, he's determined not to let go until she says I do.

 

 

 

 

Kwanzaa Angel by Shirley Hailstock

 

Erin Scott withstood the humiliation of being abandoned at a high school prom by the man of her dreams. Channeling her personal feelings into work, Erin opened a department store which now flourishes and is about to expand. Just as her family gathers for the Kwanzaa celebration, her nemesis returns to town, opening old wounds and throwing her life in to passionate chaos.

 

Raimi Price regretted his decision almost as soon as he made it, but he couldn’t undo it. Now sixteen years later he’s back, hoping to stay, but reconciling with Erin Scott is a major priority. When he discovers they are both bidding on the same piece of property his romantic plans stall. Then history threatens to repeat itself complicating matters more.

 

Can these two bridge the gap and find a lasting love?

 

 

Guess Who's Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca

 

Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.

 

Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.

 

 

 

Kiss Me at Kwanzaa by L. L. Bucknor

 

Coworkers and cubicle mates, Ishmael "Ish" Cutter and Adan Flores might come from different backgrounds but they have a good number of things in common. The biggest one?

 

They each have a secret crush on the other.

 

This holiday season they are both single for the first time in thirteen months. No boyfriends or clingy ex issues - maybe it's time for Adan to make his move?

 

He formulates the perfect plan and invites Ish over for his family's Kwanzaa feast...but will he have the courage to make the first move or will this holiday season be one to forget? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday of Love by Kayla Perrin

 

Faced with the devastating news that the family that raised her is not really hers, successful artist Collette Jenkins heads for her childhood home in Miami to uncover the secrets of her past and comes face to face with her now divorced first love, Dexter Harris, a college basketball coach. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year's Eve (31st December 2019)

 

 

Dance All Night by Alexis Daria

 

Broadway hotshot Nik Kovalenko is a confirmed bachelor.

 

Ballroom champion Jess Davenport is a bona fide Scrooge.

 

Last year, they shared a midnight kiss at a New Year’s Eve party that made both of them believe—briefly—in the magic of the holiday season. The magic was cut short when Nik went on tour the next day, but he never stopped thinking about that kiss—or Jess.

 

When the holidays roll back around, Nik runs into Jess again. He doesn’t want to spend another year pining for the Scrooge who got away, so he tells Jess he’ll stay if she’ll give him a shot at being her Christmas Present.

 

Jess thinks he’s full of it, but she agrees to three dates. If Nik can make her believe in holiday magic in a place as un-wintery as Los Angeles—and convince her that he’s ready to stick around—she’ll give him a chance. But he won’t know until New Year’s Eve. If she kisses him at midnight, he’ll have his answer…

 

 

 

Tow Trucks & New Year's Kisses by Lila Leigh Hunter

 

A Jag with out-of-state plates is the last car Scott DeLaney expected to find when answering a tow call as a favor to his drunken godson. But, the tall man in the fedora seems like a nice reward until Scott finds out the stranger's destination. Yes, he'd take care of the brooding man, but he has a selfish reason for it.

 

Finding himself in a ditch after dodging a deer is the least of Patrick Samuels's problems when his rescuer arrives, wearing a tuxedo and driving a hot pink flatbed. Perhaps his older brother’s scheme will benefit Patrick after all.

 

Who knew that a New Year’s kiss is far more efficient than any boardroom strategy to seal a deal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Year Marriage Proposal by Kate Hardy

 

When millionaire Quinn O’Neill’s neighbour Carissa asks for his help, he’s soon caught up in the work – and the beautiful yet guarded woman behind it.

 

Now Quinn’s determined to prove that romance isn’t just for Christmas… but for a lifetime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Days Later by CM Corett

 

Nate Beckett doesn’t expect much from life, and he definitely doesn’t believe in New Year’s celebrations or resolutions. A happy New Year? Not likely. As the manager of McGee’s bar, the best he can hope for is a drama-free night. One glance at the sexy young man on the dance floor and that hope is long gone. Once again, his young neighbor Justin is back to tempt and torment him. Despite the undeniable attraction, Nate knows he’s too old and jaded for someone like him, so the time has come to reject Justin. It’s for his own good!

 

Justin may be young and inexperienced, but he knows what he needs. His New Year’s resolution—to tempt and win Nate over. One lame seduction attempt later, and he’s on his way home in a cab. Alone. But later that night, Justin wakes up battered and bruised on Nate’s doorstep, and Nate insists that Justin stay with him. The big, beautiful man’s protective and caring instincts are definitely kicking in.

 

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance for a happy New Year after all!