For the Imp’s birthday my sister bought her a counting primer, and she quite honestly couldn’t have found a better one. Just look at it!
I got myself a whole slew of Christmas novels and novellas that I figured I’d read and review for the holidays. That hasn’t worked out so well, I’m only halfway through my second one, so at this rate I’ll still be reading Christmas stories in April!
Still, I wanted to ask – does anyone have any recommendations for good holiday romances? Do you like holiday romances?
I did read a few last year, so I will give my notes on those (and the one I finished this year) for now.
Unwrapping Her Perfect Match by Kat Latham
This holiday romance starts with Gwen who’s at a charity auction to bid on her sister’s boyfriend (on her sister’s behalf), but after a conversation with another handsome rugby player ends up bidding on him instead. At 6’1”, Gwen has always felt like a giant, but “Little” John Sheldon makes her feel all woman.
I did like the chemistry between the two main characters in this book. Gwen has some baggage from something that happened to her in her youth, and it threatens to derail any relationship she’s ever had as an adult. John is quite understanding about the situation, and tries his best to help. Which doesn’t always work. I liked that when he acted like an ass, whether intentional or not, he did usually realise and would try to fix his behaviour.
There were a few things in the novella I liked less, but I can’t go into it without possible spoilers. Still good enough to read once, and you don’t have to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one.
MILF on the Shelf by Nico Rosso
This is an erotic novella so it contains explicit language, in case that’s not your thing. It’s about a middle aged woman who takes the chance to feel something again with a younger man. I wouldn’t say it’s a love story per se, but more about finding a way back to yourself.
I liked that it has a Chinese-American heroine and an African-American hero. It’s also refreshing to read about an older woman/younger man rather than the other way around. I’d say it’s definitely worth the read as long as you don’t mind explicit language.
Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter
This was a sweet romance where Harley, still recovering from the loss of her husband and children, takes a temporary job over the holidays at a ranch to get away from all of the memories for Christmas. The owner of the ranch, Brock, is a gruff widower, and is out of the house most of the time – which suits her perfectly. Things change when Brock’s twins unexpectedly arrive home from school, something Harley didn’t sign up for.
When she realises that the twins have never celebrated Christmas, she makes it her mission to make sure that they do. To Brock’s initial dismay. (I personally got a bit of a von Trapp feeling early on, but it plays out quite well.)
The book is sweet, and it deals with the personal loss of both main characters quite well. However, I was very thrown when the book turned very Christian towards the end. I hadn’t realised that this was a spiritual romance, and it seemed to come out of nowhere, since there had been no real references of it up until that point. That did sort of ruin the book for me a bit, mainly because I didn’t expect it.
Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan
Ski Pro Brenna has been in love with ex-skiing champion Tyler for years, so she knows all about unrequited love. When an overbooked skii resort forces them to share a chalet for the holidays, they are both forced to look at their relationship in a new light.
I quite enjoyed this book, there’s a fair amount of unresolved sexual tension (though any actual sex scenes take place behind closed doors), and both main characters seemed realistic and interesting. Tyler is a single dad, which is quite new to him (the daughter has lived with her mom up until recently), and the feelings involved in having to now take care of his daughter seemed real.
This was possibly one of my favourite Christmas romances so far.
I read a few others, but they can’t have been very good, because I have little to no memory of them.
The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation by Erica Ridley
No memory of this whatsoever. I’m sorry.
The Twelve Nights of Christmas by Sarah Morgan
Little to no memory of this. The one thing I can remember is that the couple’s meet-cute is the hero finding the heroine naked on his hotel bed. (As I remember, she lost her job and worked in a hotel – so a friend/colleague told her to stay the night in the suite – then her clothes got wet and she had hung them up to try, only to fall asleep on the bed.)
A Christmas Kiss by Jess Michaels
I remember it being a Regency, and that it felt too short. It suffered from what a lot of novellas do – the lack of time for proper character growth. Everything felt just a little bit too rushed.
I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading lately when I work my waking night shifts. Writing at work has turned out to be difficult since it requires quite a bit of focus, and I need to always be aware of what’s going on. Reading works though, and you won’t hear me complaining about that.
With my newfound reading time, I’m finding new (and old) pet peeves in the books that I’m reading. It should be said that these are all personal views, and doesn’t mean that a story is any better or worse than any other. We all have our own preferences, and something that I enjoy might not be someone else’s cup of tea and vice versa.
Some of my pet peeves:
- Historical Inaccuracy
When reading romance, I will often allow for a little suspension of belief, as long as it’s not asking for too much. You have your couple waltz before it was actually a socially acceptable dance, sure – I’ll let it slide. However, if your hero has a tobacco plantation in the south of England and is a slave trader… Just, no. Slave trading was illegal for Britons after 1807 (the story took place in 1813-1817), and I could be wrong, but I don’t remember reading about British tobacco plantations? (That weren’t located in the West Indies etc.) I’m sure there were people who still worked in the slave trade, but then the author should have made it clear that he was doing something illegal.
Fortunately, this isn’t something that I see a lot of in published books (whether self-published or traditional), but I’ve been reading some stories on Wattpad and Fanfiction sites (I know, I know – but sometimes it’s a lot of fun!). When the writer hops between the points of view of the main characters abruptly, sometimes within the same scene it’s very jarring. Please change chapter or at least a section break to give me a clue that we’re now in someone else’s head!
I’ve mainly seen this in a couple of the very few erotic romances I’ve tried, but I know it sometimes happens in other books as well. It really creeps me out. When the hero is either talking about the heroine in terms that make her sound very young/girlish, or even worse calling her “baby girl”, “little girl”, “young girl” and so on. Extra squick points if he refers to himself as “daddy”. No, just no.
- Dubious consent
The book I’m currently reading has the hero more or less barging into the heroine’s flat at their first physical meeting (they’ve only spoken on the phone previously), and proceeds to spank her and do other sexual things to her, while she’s yelling at him to get out, to stop etc. It just made me very uneasy. Even while knowing that the author was trying to show him as dominating and her as a submissive who had forgotten how to be one (??!), it just didn’t sit right with me. Now, I’m no expert on BDSM, but isn’t the whole thing about consent and trust, in reality? You can’t just barge in and decide that you’re the new dominant without any base rules set? Correct me if I’m wrong.
- Series not advertised as such
This doesn’t really apply to series where each book is its own story with a beginning, middle and end (especially if each book is a new couple). But if you’re selling me a story, and it’s going to end on a cliffhanger – I’d like to know before I purchase the book, please.
These are some of my pet peeves, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.
Do you have any pet peeves in books? What are they?
I love reading, always have, and I would like to think that being an avid reader also makes one a better writer. By reading you expand your vocabulary, you learn the rules of writing and sentence building, and you can get inspiration.
A writer that doesn’t read is missing out on something very vital. You have to study your art if you want to create something. That goes for everything, not just writing.
I don’t read as much as I used to, partly for lack of time and partly for lack of energy, but I do try do read as much as I can. My favourite genre is of course the one that I write myself; Historical Romance, more specifically Regency set romance. I read a lot of other genres as well though, anything from fiction to humour, from horror to fantasy. I won’t lie though, most of what I read will be romances.
Lately I’ve tried to expand my romance reading from nearly exclusively historical romance to contemporary. I don’t like it as much, but I have found quite a few good stories.
Growing up my switch from children’s books to adult books came early. I think I was eleven or so when I could no longer find anything of interest in my bookshelf or the young adult section of the library. Looking at the large amount of books in my mom’s library I asked her for a suggestion. She gave me Stephen King’s The Eyes of the Dragon, and I loved it. That book got me interested in the fantasy genre, as well as the horror genre as I ended up reading most of King’s books.
In the next few years I read nearly all of Stephen Kings books (that had been published up to that point), nearly all of Dean Koontz’ books of the same genre. I also got very interested in fantasy, and devoured the books of David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Tolkien and many others. For a long time, my main discourse when it came to books was horror and fantasy.
I don’t remember who introduced me to romance novels, but it wasn’t until my early to mid-twenties that I truly fell in love with the genre. It was when I found wonderful authors such as Teresa Medeiros, Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn. This was also around the time that I gave up on trying to write a fantasy novel, and instead focused on writing romance. After writing many stories through my life, I realised that no matter the story – I had characters falling in love, whether I had planned it or not. So in the end, I decided that what I should probably be writing, is romance novels!
That is my story both of me as a reader, and as a writer. I do believe that the two are connected, and I will strive to continue reading as much as I possibly can.
What kind of books got you into reading? Are you still reading the same genres? If you’re a writer, do you mainly write in the same genre that you’re reading?