I read a lot of holiday and wintry romances in December – I just wanted to get myself in the festive mood. Some of these you might want to hang on to for November and December, but others are more general winter and snow focused that are still appropriate for the coming months. Here’s what I read in December…
The Holiday is one of my favorite movies, and this book is like an updated, queer version. Two people – Greta, from a tiny town in Maine, and Truman, living in New Orleans, both are feeling frustrated with their lives and families, and just want to get away, ASAP. While they’ve never met, they both happen to text a mutual friend with their frustrations, who suggestions they swap places for one month, and both quickly agree. Greta and Truman each head to the other’s hometown, where they find themselves (and love!) along the way. I really loved that while the romantic journeys were a big part of the book, the journeys to being comfortable with themselves, and their own insecurities, were equally important.
This was a sweet holiday rom com with fake dating and a love trapezoid. Ellie was recently let go from her dream job and is working at a coffee shop there while she figures out how to move on with her life. After a drunken night out with Andrew, the shop’s landlord, she agrees to pretend to be his fiancée and go home with him for the holidays to fulfill a stipulation of his inheritance… only to find out that his sister is the woman that Ellie spent a perfect day and night with last year. And there seems to be something going on between Andrew and his sister’s best friend, too. Lots of miscommunications and Taylor Swift lyrics throughout!
This is not a holiday read, but instead a fantasy story that’s kind of reminiscent of The Hunger Games. Lightlark is an island the appears every 100 years, when the rulers of the realms gather there to try to break an ancient curse – a curse that requires one ruler to die to be broken. Isla is one such ruler – of the Wildlings – and this is her first time at Lightlark. Lies and secrets abound, sparks fly, and Isla must do her best to figure out who is her ally, who is telling the truth, and how to survive. I read this after seeing it all over Instagram and TikTok, and it didn’t disappoint!
This is a modern re-telling of Much Ado About Nothing, and I loved this romance with disabled/neurodivergent characters! Bea and Jamie are set up by their sister and best friend, respectively, and while they claim to have no interest in one another, agree to fake date to get their friends and family off their backs. But fake dating still requires you to spend a lot of time together, and unsurprisingly, Bea and Jamie start to find that maybe there is something there after all. There’s excellent disability / neurodivergent representation in the characters, and I especially loved this line, from Jamie to Bea after she explains that she’s Autistic: “I don’t see you differently. I see you better.”
I listened to this in the car during our drive to DC, and then finished it at the hotel – it really helped set the cozy mood! Stella owns a Christmas tree farm in a small town, but is at the end of her financial rope. To try to help keep the farm running, she enters an Instagram contest run by an influencer… but on her application, she says that she co-owns the farm with her boyfriend, which is not the case. So when she finds out her farm is a finalist, she asks her best friend (and years-long crush) Luka to be her pretend boyfriend. But the lines begin to blur between best friend, pretend boyfriend, and real boyfriend! It was really cute and I kept sneaking my headphones in for “just a few minutes” in the hotel, much to the annoyance of my family who kept trying to talk to me / interrupt my reading.
This was like a modern day version of You’ve Got Mail, and such a fun, cute holiday read. Gabby works at a local bookstore along with her nemesis, Jonathan. The bookstore is going through financial struggles and it looks like only one of them will be able to keep their job in the new year unless something changes. So Gabby suggests a contest – whoever makes the most sales in December will be the one to keep their job. As Gabby deals with this stress, she also has to deal with the fact that her online friend (and maybe more than friends…), who she met through Reddit, suggests they stop talking for a few weeks until they can meet in person, to lower any expectations. Since I’ve made some amazing friends through Reddit, so I loved this little detail. Of course, there’s lots of holiday magic in December that bring Gabby and Jonathan closer together while they fight for sales. Now that I know Chloe Liese is a Pittsburgh author, I imaged this all taking place in a local bookstore, which was an added level of fun for me!
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