I’ve already recommended one Christmas book this week, but it’s that time of year – and here are some of my favourite festive reads for this year.
The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery*
This is the first full length novel in Susan Mallery’s new series. I’ve written about the Fools Gold and Happily Inc series here previously and I love the increasingly bonkers concepts of the towns these series are set in: after doing a wedding-themed town, this time she’s come up with a Christmas-themed town. It’s mad but it sort of works and makes sense if you’ve read any/many/much of Mallery’s other series. This has two romances – with sisters each getting their Happily Ever After – one is a second chance with a high school boyfriend, the other gets a rock star. I sort of wish that she had picked just one and focused on that but I understand why it needed to be the way it is because of the time lines. My first Christmas book of the year and it was a good one – even if it’s utterly bonkers escapist wish fulfilment stuff!
A Surprise for Christmas
This is another of the British Library Crime Classics themed collections. They have several around Christmas now as well as others themed around things like trains, the seaside, animals and Sports. I’ve read a couple of the festive ones, and this is a particularly good set – it features some of my favourite Golden Age authors – Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh as well as GK Chesterton and a few others you may not have heard of. Some of the stories are longer than others – and sometimes you’ll wish they were longer (or shorter) than they actually are but I enjoyed reading it – particularly because it had an extra dose of my beloved Roderick Alleyn.
Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant*
This is mostly here because I really liked the short story that makes up the last 30 percent of this. Home for a Cowboy Christmas is a romantic suspense story set on a ranch in Montana with a heroine on the run from the mob. As they spend time together on the ranch, they realise that they might be perfect for each other, if only Emmy can stay alive through the trial. It wraps up a bit quickly at the end and the hero is called Dwight (not a sexy name!) but it’s quite a good read. The short story at the end is a forced proximity, stuck in a snowy cabin story, which is exactly what I like for Christmas. The heroine is a big city laywer reeling from a breakup, the hero has some trust issues. Very little peril but a sweet story. I read it on the beach, but it would be lovely to curl up in front of a fire to as well.
If the Fates Allow by Rainbow Rowell
Reagan has actually quite enjoyed all the social distancing – she likes watching people from afar, not up close. But she’s heading to her grandfather’s for Christmas because she doesn’t want him to be alone any more than he already has been. Then she runs into the boy next door (from a distance) when she’s out on the garden and.. well. You need to read it. This is another short story – and it’s just a short story, not a collection and is really quite short. But it is charming so I’m giving it a place here – it’s in Kindle Unlimited so if you’re a member it’s not going to cost you anything either.
Her Pretend Christmas Date
This is Jackie Lau’s Christmas offering from *last* year – and features a blind date that goes really badly, but that somehow turns into a fake relationship to try and get the heroine’s family off her back. I liked the dynamic between Julie and Tom – and I particularly like the competitive Christmas activities they ended up doing against her sister and parents. At just over 100 pages it’s into novella territory rather than short story, but it’s lots of fun and very, very festive – gingerbread! Snow Angels! Skating! It’s also just been released bundled with two of Jackie Lau’s other Christmas novellas – One Bed for Christmas and Second-Chance Road Trip in an anthology called There’s Only One Bed at Christmas – so you might sense a bit of a theme going on there too…
That’s it – for now at least. Who knows, I may go wild and read a bunch more Christmas books this week that I just have to tell you about, but knowing me I might also decide that I’m too cold and over reading about non-covid Christmases and just read nothing but summer holiday romances! It has been known… But if you need more Christmas reading ideas, here is the 2020 post, the two 2019 posts – old books and new books, the 2018 post and both 2017 posts – new and not new.