Thanksgiving is over. It’s time to break out the mistletoe and hot cocoa! We are embracing our inner Christmassy selves this holiday season. The best way to do that is to immerse yourself in love stories only Mr. Claus could love. As the Fall season winds down into Winter, curl up with a fuzzy blanket, a steaming mug, and one of these brand-new books to celebrate the holidays.
1. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss
Elinor Noel—Nory for short—is quite content running her secondhand bookshop in London. Forever torn between her working-class upbringing and her classmates’ extravagant lifestyles at the posh private school she attended on scholarship, Nory has finally figured out how to keep both at equal distance. So when two of her oldest friends invite their whole gang to spend the time leading up to their wedding together at the castle near their old school, Nory must prepare herself for an emotionally complicated few days.
The reunion brings back fond memories, but also requires Nory to dodge an ill-advised former fling. When she falls quite literally into the arms of Isaac, the castle’s head gardener, who has nothing but contempt for the “snobby prep school kids,” the attraction between them is undeniable. And as Nory spends more time with Isaac during the wedding festivities, she finds herself falling hard for the boy she used to consider an enemy. Nory and Isaac explore their common ground, but pressures mount on all sides, and Nory must decide what kind of life she wants to live and what sort of love is worth the risk . . .
2. A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone
Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.
Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.
But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.
And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.
3. One Last Gift by Emily Stone
Sometimes the best gifts in life are the ones you don’t expect.
Cassie and Tom lost their parents at a young age and relied on each other–as well as a community of friends–to get through it. Especially Tom’s best friend, Sam, who always made sure Tom and Cassie were surrounded with love. But now, twenty years later, Cassie has lost Tom as well. And in a way, she’s also lost Sam; over the years they’ve drifted apart, and now the man she always had a crush on is someone she doesn’t even recognize anymore.
She’s never felt more alone.
Then she finds an envelope with her name on it, written in Tom’s terrible handwriting, and she knows immediately what it is. It’s the first clue in the Christmas scavenger hunt Tom made for her every year; he’d promised her for months that this year’s would be the grandest one yet. At first, she’s too scared to open it–what if she can’t figure out the clues without his help? Or what if she does figure them all out, and her last connection to Tom is gone?
Tom’s clues set Cassie on a heart-wrenching and beautiful journey that will change her life–if she lets them. And as she travels from London to the Welsh mountains to the French countryside, she reconnects with old friends, rekindles a lost love, and most importantly, rediscovers herself. But once she’s solved the final clue, will she be brave enough to accept the gift her brother has given her–and the love it’s led her to?
4. You’re a Mean One, Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky
Bring a little joy to the world?
Not today, Santa.
Matthew Prince is young, rich, and thoroughly spoiled. So what if his parents barely remember he exists and the press is totally obsessed with him? He’s on top of the world. But one major PR misstep later, and Matthew is cut off and shipped away to spend the holidays in his grandparents’ charming small town hellscape. Population: who cares?
It’s bad enough he’s stuck in some festive winter wonderland—it’s even worse that he has to share space with Hector Martinez, an obnoxiously attractive local who’s unimpressed with anything and everything Matthew does.
Just when it looks like the holiday season is bringing nothing but heated squabbles, the charity gala loses its coordinator and Matthew steps in as a saintly act to get home early on good behavior…with Hector as his maddening plus-one. But even a Grinch can’t resist the unexpected joy of found family, and in the end, the forced proximity and infectious holiday cheer might be enough to make a lonely Prince’s heart grow three sizes this year.
5. Meet me in Los Feliz by Kelly Reynolds
A California Christmas is all Nora’s ever known. She’s got everything she needs in Los Angeles – a part-time nannying gig, roommates who might as well be her family, and an acting career in the making. The last thing she’s looking for is a relationship. So why does this redheaded Brit suddenly have her tinsel in a twist?
Bowie has a nasty habit of falling too hard, too quickly. When he finds himself suddenly single (yet again) just before the holidays, he decides to take his friends’ advice and try something new: a holiday fling. Seems easy enough until he meets Nora, the hypnotic, purple-haired goddess with curves for days, who just so happens to be his ex’s sister’s roommate.
She just wants something casual for Christmas.
He doesn’t think he’ll be able to let her go come Boxing Day.
Can they turn their naughty month together into something nice forever?
6. A Cat Café Christmas by Codi Gary
Veterinarian and animal lover Kara Ingalls needs a Christmas miracle. Opening the Meow and Furrever Cat Café to find loving homes for adorable, adoptable cats was a dream come true—but with more cats than customers, it’s quickly turning into a nightmare. If Kara can’t figure out some way to get the café out of the red, it won’t last past the holidays.
Marketing guru Ben Reese may be annoyingly smart and frustratingly bossy, but when he hatches a plan to put the café in the “green” by Christmas, Kara realizes that she’d be a fool to turn down his help. And so what if he turns out to be an excellent problem solver and nerdy-hot—he can’t even handle fostering one little kitten. She needs to keep their relationship professional and focus on saving the cafe.
But if Ben and Kara can set aside their differences—and find homes for all the cats by Christmas—they might discover that, by risking their hearts, they’ll have their own purr-fect holiday . . . together.
7. Christmas in Mistletoe by Clare Lydon
What happens if you hate Christmas, but get stranded in Mistletoe?
Fran Bell is a music exec who’s welded to her career. Even when her parents move to a sleepy village called Mistletoe, she still vows to work through Christmas. When she tells the locals, their shock is palpable.
One particular local stands out. Ruby O’Connell, a dazzling singer, and the last person Fran expects to find as her parents’ neighbour. They’ve crossed paths before in London. It wasn’t pretty.
When they’re thrown together to organise a Christmas festival, their relationship starts to thaw. But when old tensions boil up, can Fran and Ruby make the Mistletoe magic stick?
Best-selling author Clare Lydon brings you a festive story to pep up your year, set in a twinkly village with a cast of laugh-out-loud characters. If you love Hallmark Christmas movies but have been longing for one with two female leads, it’s time to get swept up in this Christmas cracker of a romance!
8. Season of Love by Helena Greer
Miriam Blum has no choice but to face the past she thought she’d left behind when she inherits her great-aunt’s Christmas tree farm in this witty, glittering, heart-filled romcom.
Thanks to her thriving art career, Miriam Blum finally has her decoupaged glitter ducks in a row—until devastating news forces her to a very unwanted family reunion. Her beloved great-aunt Cass has passed and left Miriam part-owner of Carrigan’s, her (ironically) Jewish-run Christmas tree farm.
But Miriam’s plans to sit shiva, avoid her parents, then put Carrigan’s in her rearview mirror are spoiled when she learns the business is at risk of going under. To have any chance at turning things around, she’ll need to work with the farm’s grumpy manager—as long as the attraction sparking between them doesn’t set all their trees on fire first.
Noelle Northwood wants Miriam Blum gone—even if her ingenious ideas and sensitive soul keep showing Noelle there’s more to Cass’s niece than meets the eye. But saving Carrigan’s requires trust, love, and risking it all—for the chance to make their wildest dreams come true.
9. How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow
It all starts when Shani runs into May. Like, literally. With her mom’s Subaru.
Attempted vehicular manslaughter was not part of Shani’s plan. She was supposed to be focusing on her monthlong paleoichthyology internship. She was going to spend all her time thinking about dead fish and not at all about how she was unceremoniously dumped days before winter break.
It could be going better.
But when a dog-walking gig puts her back in May’s path, the fossils she’s meant to be diligently studying are pushed to the side—along with the breakup.
Then they’re snowed in together on Christmas Eve. As things start to feel more serious, though, Shani’s hurt over her ex-girlfriend’s rejection comes rushing back. Is she ready to try a committed relationship again, or is she okay with this just being a passing winter fling?
10. Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun
One year ago, recent Portland transplant Ellie Oliver had her dream job in animation and a Christmas Eve meet-cute with a woman at a bookstore that led her to fall in love over the course of a single night. But after a betrayal the next morning and the loss of her job soon after, she finds herself adrift, alone, and desperate for money.
Finding work at a local coffee shop, she’s just getting through the days—until Andrew, the shop’s landlord, proposes a shocking, drunken plan: a marriage of convenience that will give him his recent inheritance and alleviate Ellie’s financial woes and isolation. They make a plan to spend the holidays together at his family cabin to keep up the ruse. But when Andrew introduces his new fiancée to his sister, Ellie is shocked to discover it’s Jack—the mysterious woman she fell for over the course of one magical Christmas Eve the year before. Now, Ellie must choose between the safety of a fake relationship and the risk of something real.
11. The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
Oy! to the world
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.
But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.
Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.