Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating! I hope you have a holiday filled with love and laughter.
Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating! I hope you have a holiday filled with love and laughter.
I thought I'd share some favorite holiday romances with you, though I'm getting to it later than I meant. Every December almost everything I read is a holiday romance—I like to wallow in the warm, happy feelings that holiday romance especially provides. This year has been no different, though I've been busy and I haven't gotten as much reading in as I hoped. I'll keep reading holiday romances through New Year's, so I hope to get in a few more. This list includes a few that I read for the first time this year and some old favorites that I tend to reread over and over.
Mr. Winterbourne's Christmas by Joanna Chambers: I loved this sequel to Introducing Mr. Winterbourne. It really gave us a solid HEA for these two during a snowy Christmas.
The Magician's Angel by Jordan L Hawk: I've read a few of the books in the multi-author Christmas Angel series, and this is my favorite so far. Of course, there is a murder mystery running through the story (it's Jordan L Hawk!), but the romance was just lovely too.
Love Around the Corner by Sally Malcolm: This book managed to be both friends to lovers and enemies to lovers at the same time. Two men are falling for each other online without realizing that they don't get along at all in real life. A really enjoyable Christmas romance.
And some old favorites (that I'm sure I've talked about in previous book posts somewhere):
Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles by Eli Easton (librarian heroes!)
Holly & Oak by R. Cooper
The Winter Spirit by Indra Vaughn
The Holly Growth Green by Amy Rae Durresson (and her other Christmas stories)
The North Pole City Tales by Charlie Cochet (fun fantasy romances about elves at the North Pole)
Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert
Icecapade by Josh Lanyon (probably my favorite of Lanyon's holiday stories, but Lone Star is great too)
Do you have any favorite holiday romances?
Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating! I hope your holiday is filled with laughter and love, family, friends, and good food.
I'm celebrating with family today (and there will be lots of food!) after spending the last week baking cookies and wrapping gifts, listening to Christmas music, and reading lots of holiday romances. Well, I've been reading those all month, and I'll continue reading them straight to New Year's. I've posted some favorites before (check my November reading post for links), but here are a few I've enjoyed since, if you need some more holiday reading:
The Glow of Luminiferous Aether on Tinsel by Jana Denardo: I don't think I've ever read a steampunk holiday story before, so this felt really original.
Eight Nights in December by Keira Andrews: This is a revised version of a previously released novella, which I didn't read so I can't tell you how different it is, but I enjoyed this one.
The Holly Growth Green by Amy Rae Durreson: This was lovely. If you like a little magic with your holiday stories, read this one.
Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt: Part of the Maiden Lane series, but you don't have to have read them all to enjoy this. (It's a great series though!)
Poison Marked by TJ Nichol: A bit different, as it's set in a fantasy world, and just so good. I think this would work for you even if holiday romances aren't your thing.
Miracle on Ladies' Mile by Joanna Shupe: I enjoyed this Guilded Age novella so much. The characters pulled me right in.
A Holiday Crush by CJane Elliot: For those who like a little politics with their holiday romance, try this short.
New Game, Start by CS Poe: So adorable and sweet!
Ok, that was a bit more than a few! Enjoy your holiday, everyone!
Today I needed a little cheer so I decorated the Christmas tree. I meant to do it last weekend right after Thanksgiving, but I didn't get to it. But it's decorated now, and I'm not horribly traumatized by the trip up into the attic (The big spiders live up there. I try to stay out as much as possible.). I've shared some of my interesting ornaments with you in previous years, but I got a couple new ones this year. My parents brought me back a cable car from San Francisco, and I was so excited to a Fox Robin Hood and Maid Marian ornament. And other Fox Robin Hood fans here?
Of course, I spent the day decorating and didn't get any writing done. But now I get to do that tonight near the Christmas tree. Soon the holiday baking will begin too...
I feel a bit like the holiday season snuck up on me this year, and in truth, I'm struggling some for the holiday spirit—the past couple of months have not been the best for any of us. But I'm trying because I really do love the holidays, and I love the feeling of joy and wonder and peace and hope that they bring. I could do with some of all of that.
The tree has been up since the Saturday after Thanksgiving and everything is decorated, gifts have been bought and wrapped...and I'm still baking and will be probably right up until Christmas Eve morning. I've made so many batches of Christmas cookies, from old family recipes and newer ones that I've found myself and made into new traditions. Somewhere in there, I've made time for reading (often curled up near the tree with a cup of hot chocolate, which is often spike with peppermint schnapps). You may recall that I love holiday romances. I told you a bunch of my favorites in a blog post last December, and I thought I'd do another this year to tell you about some good ones that I've read since that post that I haven't mentioned elsewhere.
Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown - This is a Thanksgiving to Christmas novella in which one of our main characters decides she needs to bring a fake girlfriend to Thanksgiving to annoy her aunt and cousins. Only she starts falling for the fake girlfriend. There's also an adorable dog.
Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins - The story of two grumpy loners who don't realize how lonely they are until they're thrown together and begin to fall in love. It's a lovely Christmas romance.
Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert - Oh my gosh, I loved this book. It gave me all the warm, happy feelings I want from a holiday romance. Christmas reminds Hollis too much of his parents' deaths a few years ago, so he tries not to participate in the season, but Sawyer, whose brother is married to Hollis's sister, makes it his mission to give Christmas back to Hollis. I only read it a couple weeks ago and I already want to reread.
Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles by Eli Easton - A Christmas romance between librarians. I loved this, and I loved Sean Miggles.
The Ugliest Sweater by Gillian St. Kevern - This was a very cute, sweet short story in which an ugly Christmas sweater brings two people together. I only wish it had been longer, but then I tend to prefer longer reads so that might just be me. If you're looking for light and short, this might be perfect.
Of Christmas Past by Teryn Day - This is a lovely, poignant Christmas story. Jon can see ghosts, and Cecil is one of the ghosts haunting an old mansion that belongs to Jon's family. I loved learning Jon's and Cecil's stories and watching them grow closer. My one issue with this story is that asexuality seems to be equated with having a low sex drive, which is not the same thing.
The Mistletoe Effect by Cate Ashwood - I just finished this one, and it was warm and sweet and all the good things about holiday romance. Danny and Merrick are just such good guys, and the snowy little Colorado town was the perfect setting for a Christmas romance.
I'll stop there, even though I could probably list a bunch more. I tend to binge read holiday romances this time of year anyway, but 2016 has left me especially needing the particular joy a holiday romance brings. I'm not even finished with my stack of new stories to read and old favorites to reread. I think I may be reading them through New Year's this year. I'll tell you about everything else I read in this month's regularly scheduled reading post.
Do you have favorite holiday romances? Or any wonderful ones that you've just discovered? Tell me (because apparently I can never have enough holiday romances to read!).
And, just for laughs, have a picture of me wearing reindeer antlers while I helped decorate my parents' tree.
A very merry Christmas to all who are celebrating, and a very happy Friday to everyone who isn't! It's far too warm here now for it to really feel like Christmas. No chance of a white Christmas this year, sadly, not with record highs on Christmas Eve, but I'm doing my best to stay in the Christmas spirit anyway. I've been shopping and decorating and baking and wrapping and listening to Christmas music and reading holiday romances for weeks now. Christmas is a big holiday in my family, and is actually my favorite holiday. We celebrate and get together with family on both Christmas Eve and Christmas. My family is Italian so we have the feast of the seven fishes on Christmas Eve, an Italian tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve. We ate several different fish dishes, which might be my favorite holiday meal, but the fun is always getting everyone together. We'll still be cooking, frying fish and shrimp and calamari, when everyone arrives and we'll all gather in the kitchen, drinking wine and laughing while we cook. After a massive meal, there's midnight mass. Then back home to sleep so Santa can come.
Today I'm with family again, opening presents in the morning and having a big breakfast, then spending more time cooking before family begins to arrive again for dinner. The meal is a long one in several courses - beginning with my sister's crab cakes moving on to a pasta course then some sort of meat course (cornish hens this year) and finally fruit, chestnuts, dessert (all those Christmas cookies I've been baking since last week!). So much food - we have to warn first time visitors to pace themselves - and there's wine too, don't forget that. There'll probably be board games after dinner. We usually play something, which provokes even more laughter and silliness. It's a holiday tradition I love, going back to when I was a kid. Unfortunately my family members are not Doctor Who fans so I'll be DVRing the Christmas special and watching that tomorrow on my own. Oh well, can't have everything.
Hope everyone has a lovely day!
Christmas is two weeks from today! I'm not entirely sure how that happened - I feel as if I blinked and missed weeks, and I had promised myself I would take the time to enjoy the season too. *Sigh* And if Christmas is two weeks away, The Artist's Masquerade will be out in the world in less than two weeks! I'm very excited for you to get to know Cathal and Flavian. If you'd like to preorder from Dreamspinner (or buy The Prince's Consort), they're having a 25% off sale, but it ends today, so hurry! You can find my books at Dreamspinner here. Also I'll be doing a blog tour for The Artist's Masquerade which will begin on Sunday the 13th. I'll post soon to give you the schedule of where I'll be when and information about the giveaway, so stay tuned for that.
And for even more exciting news, I've signed a contract with Dreamspinner for the third book of the Chronicles of Tournai, The Scholar's Heart, which is Etan and Tristan's story. If you read The Prince's Consort, you probably knew this story was coming, Some of you assumed it would be coming sooner, but Etan and Tristan had to wait a while, and Cathal and Flavian demanded their story first. I hope you'll find it worth the wait.
So since over the next couple of weeks I'll be bombarding you with promo for The Artist's Masquerade, how about something unrelated first? You know by now that I enjoy baking very much, and the holidays are a great time for baking sweet treats to share. Even Santa gets into the act, or at least my Santa baker tree ornament does. (He's not the only food-related ornament on my tree either. I have a little copper colander and a bundt pan and a toaster, among others. They are also not the strangest ornaments on my tree!) So I thought I would share a favorite holiday cookie recipe with you. I shared another one for struffoli on the Dreamspinner blog in early November, when no one was thinking of the holidays, but you can find it here if you'd like to check it out now. Struffoli are a traditional Southern Italian dessert at the holidays, and they're delicious and easy to make.
Today I'm going to share another Italian cookie recipe for cranberry chocolate biscotti, though this one isn't a family recipe. I'm actually not sure where I got the recipe originally, but I've been making it for years. I always make them at the holidays because the cranberry/chocolate combination seems holiday festive to me, but you can make them other times of the year too.
Here's the recipe:
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine flour and the next five ingredients in a large bowl. Combine oil, extracts and eggs. Add to the four mixture, stirring until well-blended (dough will be dry and crumbly). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 7 to 8 times. Divide the dough in half. Shape each portion into an 8 inch long roll. Place rolls 6 inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; flatten each roll to 1 inch thickness.
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet, cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 15 (1/2 inch) slices. Place the slices cut sides down on a baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the cookies over, bake for an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in the center but will harden as they cool). Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.
The recipe makes about 36 cookies. It's a bit of a process, but the results are delicious, and they make great dessert or snacks or something to dunk in your hot beverage of choice.
Now that you have a cookie and a hot beverage, how about a few more holiday reads? Just so you have something to curl up with while you eat your cookies. Because what's better than hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, and a holiday romance while you sit by the tree?
What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote - A sweet, fun friends to lovers romance with snowed in trope and fake boyfriends. Her novella Cold Feet is a good holiday read too.
When Love Flue In by Lillian Francis - A sweet, sexy holiday romance between a newly divorced man and the chimney sweep he's had a crush on for years. Definitely has the warm fuzzy holiday feel.
A Fortunate Blizzard by LC Chase - Another snowed in story (such a great trope!). I really enjoyed this, though it made me cry before it got to the wonderful HEA.
Do you bake around the holidays? Even if you don't, what are your favorite holiday treats?
Antonia is a writer and a reader. She loves books, travel, art, photography, baking, pasta, and shoes.