Wednesday, December 12, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is Some Holiday Romance

Sometime just barely after Halloween it begins.

Around the first of November I'm usually trying to nudge myself toward the idea that Thanksgiving is just weeks away and Christmas follows a month later. There are gifts to buy, wrap and, in some cases, mail. There are parties to plan and attend. I have to write a Christmas letter to go into the Christmas cards, which must be addressed and mailed. Stockings must be stuffed and turkey dinners planned. We put up the tree, add lights and ornaments, slap the topper on and hang a wreath on the front door. And oh dear, what did
I get Aunt Nellie last year?

Pretty soon all the shopping and planning and preparing lead to inevitable grumpiness and a
decidedly Grinch-like attitude. Until...

Books with snow and Christmas trees and ornaments on their covers start to appear on the shelf at my favorite booksellers, and pretty soon some of them are on the end table beside the couch where I usually sit and read. Since I started reading romance a few years ago I've come to believe it's not really Christmas until I've read a few holiday romances. It's easier to tackle the shopping crowds with a couple Happily Ever Afters under your belt.

This is a difficult time of year for many people. They've lost loved ones or loved ones are away from home for the holidays. They may be jobless or in dire financial straits. They may be suffering a severe health crisis. But time after time I've heard authors say they've received a letter from a reader who wrote "Your book helped me get through my chemo treatment today" or "After being alone for so many years I'm learning to believe in love again."

Romance gives readers a sense of hope and a moment of escape from their everyday lives. They provide that sense of hope all year long, but reading about finding love under the mistletoe or receiving a toe-curling kiss in the town square with snow falling all around makes it even more magical, and ups the hope factor a couple hundred percent.

What I want from a holiday romance is not only the hope, but the "awwwwww" at the end when the hero and heroine live happily ever after. A couple years ago I bought an anthology with a story by a favorite author. After I read two of the novellas and learned they were about serial killers and dead Santas, I realized that just because it has Santa on the cover, it's not necessarily going to leave me with all sorts of warm, fuzzy feelings. Just setting the story in December with snow falling and a wreath on the front door doesn't cut it.

Debbie Macomber has written some terrific Christmas romances. One of my very favorites is a novella called "Shirley, Goodness and Mercy" about three angels with slightly crooked halos who work a little Christmas magic on a man who has hit rock bottom and doesn't believe in Christmas anymore.

This year's stack on my end table includes an anthology from Harlequin Next called "Christmas Presence." I've only read one story so far but it is definitely a keeper. "You're All I Want for Christmas" by Susan Crosby is the story of divorcee Lauren Wright who decides to escape Christmas memories with a trip to the Bahamas. A storm shuts down all flights and strands her at O'Hare airport. Christmas looks pretty bleak until she meets fellow strandee Joe who makes her see that running away might not be the answer after all.

Yesterday I re-read "'Tis the Silly Season," the Rita award winning novella by Roxanne St. Claire from 2006's "NASCAR Holiday." It is about a single mother who hires on as a sexy race car driver's pretend wife in order to give her kids the perfect Christmas they've never had. Meanwhile, sexy race car driver is trying to paint himself as a stable family kind of guy so he can get picked as a driver for Kincaid Toys' team and get into the NEXTEL series., Add in two adorable little boys and some Christmas magic and you've got a definite "awwwww" inspiring story.

Right now I'm reading "Annie on the Lam: A Christmas Caper" by Jennifer Archer. This is also from Harlequin Next and features forty-year-old Savannah socialite Annie Macy who's left her fiance at the altar and fled the comforts of home for New York City to try and learn the real reasons behind her mother's death twenty-odd years before. At the company Christmas party, Annie steals papers from her boss to try and prove he's laundering money through his restaurant. Consequently she ends up on the lam with cab driver Joe Brady, who's also a PI hired by her father to keep an eye on her. So far we have lots of sexual tension and a bad snowstorm that's probably gonna trap them together somewhere. Oh how I love a hero and heroine trapped in a snowstorm!

Since my shopping is done, my Christmas cards are mailed and my house got a spit-polish last week in preparation for a party last Saturday, I should have plenty of time for the books still in the pile, which includes "The Gift" by Nora Roberts. I know... I should be writing. Let's just say I'm refilling the well that was thoroughly emptied by all the dusting, scrubbing, polishing, vacuuming and mopping I did last week. I'm still having nasty flashbacks when I smell Pledge.

What are you reading this Christmas season? Do you like holiday romances? Do they help make the season merry and bright for you? One lucky commenter will win a Christmas prize package with chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

P.S. Thought you might like to see my Christmas lights.


Jen said...

I tend to go both ways. I do enjoy a holiday romance but sometimes it's just nice to take a breather from the holiday stuff. And sometimes I like to just step away from the romance for a bit and lose myself in a good mystery.

Roxanne St. Claire said...

Thanks for the sweet compliment and the re-read, Marilyn! So glad you enjoyed my Christmas treat. I'm not a huge fan of the holidays for many of the reasons you mentioned, but writing two holiday-themed novellas last year really helped me channel my inner Rudolph and see the light. And speaking of lights, can I borrow your tree trimmer? I'd like to wrap him around my...tree. Yumm-o.

And if anyone is interested in a non-holiday-themed book out this month...there are others. (Ahem.)

Off to shop...


Playground Monitor said...

a review of that (ahem) non-holiday-themed book will be posted on the website at the mid-month update.

And I'm going to see if Mr. Christmas Lights is interested in being an itinerant decorator.


Angel said...

I haven't read a holiday themed romance in quite a while. Can I borrow a few, Marilyn? :)

The last one I read was a gift, Blue Christmas by our own Maven Linda Winstead Jones. Really good!


Barbara Vey said...

I tend to reread Christmas books like A Visit from Sir Nicholas by Victoria Alexander, but your list makes me want to go out read some new ones.

Of course, I could read better if I had more light, so if I could borrow your lights...and the holder, I should be good to go.

Instigator said...

Yummy! I'll take him. Wrapping unnecessary ;-D

You know, I don't tend to pick up holiday themed books. I don't know why, I just don't. Add to the fact that this year I'm writing furiously and not reading much of anything at the moment... As soon as I'm done though I plan to hunker down with a good cup of cocoa and a wonderful book or twenty.


Anonymous said...

I'm anonymous because Blogger seems to have forgotten me. I have to rejoin, I guess. Anyway, thanks for the mention, Marilyn. "You're All I Want for Christmas" is my first novella, and I had a blast writing it. I'd never written anything shorter than 50,000 words before. What fun!

Um, I do want to put my bid on the light man. I'll be happy to keep, um, raising the bid ;-).

Susan Crosby

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Oooh, I want what's under the tree! I've never picked up a holiday romance. Guess I ought to!

I tend to read whatever I usually read, which is romantic suspense. :) Right now, I'm reading a Harl Presents. :)

CrystalGB said...

I do enjoy holiday romance. I read An Enchanted Season recently and enjoyed it. I am currently reading The Price of Pleasure by Connie Mason

Lois said...

Can I have him when you're done? Well, we don't have lights to put up, but that really doesn't need to stop him. :)

And I love Christmas romances. . . I have a mix between some new ones and some from years past. But so far, I really haven't been all that happy with them so far except two big ones -- the new one from this year, Cara Colter's Their Christmas Wish Come True (just loved it!!) and a now tried and true one that I've reread a couple times now, Tis The Season (I think that's the title) by Vicky Lewis Thompson. Love that ever time I reread it! :)

But still have more to go, reread and to read for the first time, hope to have more tried and trues for years to come! :)


Problem Child said...

I'll read just about anything that comes my way, so if PM wants to send some books with the lighting guy...

Smarty Pants said...

I'm with Instigator, I usually don't read Christmas themed books. Not sure why. Probably because by the time they come out, I buy them, and get around to reading them, its Eastertime.

I did read the Sugar and Spice anthology last year with Maven Beverly. Hers was definitely SPICY!

ellie said...

I enjoy a holiday romance during the winter and holiday season. One new one that I will be reading this holiday is Annie on the Lam by Jennifer Archer. I depend upon a family saga or mystery as well for a good mix.

diane said...

I normally read mysteries and suspense romance all year long. The holiday time does not influence my taste and choice of book. That photo is the ultimate.

Maureen said...

This year I've not read any holiday themed books yet. Last year I read a couple of them but I have to be in the mood for them. Once I finish everything I have to do then I will probably start one.

Shari C said...

Oh, I like your holiday lights and also what they hi-lite...hmmm.
I love to read holiday stories; I love everything to do with the holiday season. Books just help create more of the festive mood I wish to have through this great time of the year. Happy Holidays!

ruth said...

My preference is to read non holiday books, especially when there are so many wonderful ones that keep me entertained for hours. BTW your lights are lighting up the scenery rather well.

Caridad Pineiro said...

Where can I get a set of lights like that? LOL!

I like holiday stories and do read them at this time of year since I take some time off and get caught up on the TBR pile.

This year I've got writing deadlines though, so I don't know how much reading I'll get in. Also, I've got a holiday vampire story out. Yes, you read that right -- HOLIDAY WITH A VAMPIRE.

I had a hard time writing it in the midst of a heat spell, but it put me in the holiday mood for months!

robynl said...

I love holiday themed books and right now I have 'A Town Called Christmas' by Carrie Alexander waiting to be read.
If the 'lights' guy doesn't play out I'd like a chance at having him, lol.

Pat L. said...

Send him over to help me do my tree. LOL.

I recently finished Marcia Evanick's Mistletoe Bay, like it very much.

Am currently reading Mistletoe and Molly by Janet Dailey.

Pat L.

Stacy S said...

Can you tell me were I can buy some lights like that??

I just finished Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. I had heard so much about it & when they re issued it got it. Very good. I haven't read alot of Christmas stories. But the ones I have liked. said...

To be honest I've never read a holiday themed book. Maybe because I always have this large tbr pile and the timing is never right.

KimW said...

Wow...those lights are a mess. I can help him untangle those. lol

I haven't read but a few pages so far this month. Too much to do. I have a few Christmas stories set aside. I should be done with all my Christmas stuff this weekend and then I can start reading them. I do think they add to the excitement of the day.

Kimberly L said...

I love the holidays. It's the only time my whole family gets together. I've got alot of books to catch up on. I usually buy books by the author and the cover of the book. I also like CHristmas themed books. It makes reading the holiday books more CHristmasy.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Can you brighten those Christmas lights a little more, Marilyn. :D

Great Christmas post! Thanks for the Christmas romance titles. I looove the awwww factor as well for a Christmas read.

Stay warm!

Hugs, JJ aka Nancy

Anonymous said...

I love holiday books and movies, I recently finished Holiday with a Vampire and Caridad's novella was Great! Im about to start Holidays are Hell, a little dark but fun.