I’m not much of a seasonal reader but the holiday romances have really worked for me this particular holiday season! Having spent the majority of my life living in the tropics, with a few years here and there in countries with four seasons, I actually do miss the cold weather and these reads have allowed me to immerse myself in both holiday cheer and snowy settings.
Dipped in Holly by Dana Isaly
Goodreads: Dipped in Holly Publication Date: 17 December 2021 Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Holly was just dumped. Less than a week before Christmas. In public. Dressed as a slutty Mrs. Claus. All she wants is to hide in the bathroom and have a breakdown in peace. But the Silver Fox who owns the bar has other plans.
The moment Nick takes in Holly’s grey eyes and sassy attitude, he’s hooked. There’s no denying the attraction that has sparked between them. And when that tension finally snaps, he finds himself taking Holly to bed. A kinky one night stand later, and they’re left questioning if it was enough.
Clark Griswold was onto something, at least with his annual holiday meltdown. And since the last three weeks of my life have been riddled with humbug—another breakup, a broken toe, an office promotion I deserved and didn’t get—I’m not at all in the mood to celebrate nor have the happ, happ, happiest Christmas EVER.
When Mom insisted that we all gather at my Grandparent’s ancient cabin for an old school family Christmas, I fully intended to get into the holiday spirit with the help of the three wise men, Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam. But those boys did absolutely nothing to offset the shock or temper the sting of seeing my EX on our doorstep the first day of our holiday soiree.
Apparently, Santa missed the memo, and this elf is pissed. Stuck for a week with the man who obliterated my heart nearly two decades ago, I did the only thing I could do and put on my game face, thankful for the home advantage.
I knew better than to drink that last cup of eggnog. I knew better than to get tongue tangled beneath the mistletoe with the only man to ever break my heart. I knew better than to sleep with Satan’s wingman on the eve of the Lord’s birthday.
I could blame the nog. I could blame the deceitful light blue eyes, thick, angelic hair, and panty evaporating smirk…but mostly, I blame Eli because he always knew exactly which of my buttons to push.
I foolishly thought a family Christmas filled with nostalgia was going to turn my inner Scrooge around, but this year’s festivities went up in flames. Leave it to the ghost of my Christmas past to be the one to light the match.
Fa la la la la, la FML.
TL;DR: It admittedly took me a little while to get into the story but I ended up really enjoying the Christmas vibes, the Collins family, the sibling relationships, and following along with Eli and Whitney’s second-chance romance after a gut-wrenching heartbreak and 17 years apart. This ended up being a bit more serious than I expected (CW/TW below) but the story was well-balanced with light-hearted moments of cheeky banter, swoony romance and steamy moments.
CW/TW: recounting of terminal illness (cancer), parental death, anxiety
Rex “TW” McMurtry’s perpetual single-hood wouldn’t bother him so much if all his ex-girlfriends didn’t keep marrying the very next person they dated, especially when so many of those grooms are his closest friends. He may be a pro-football defensive end for the Chicago Squalls, but the press only wants to talk about how he’s always a groomsman and never a groom. Rex is sick of being the guy before the husband, and he’s most definitely sick of being the best man at all their weddings.
Bartender Abigail McNerny is the gal-pal, the wing-woman, the she-BFF. She’s dated. Once. And once was more than enough. Privy to all the sad stories of her customers, ‘contentment over commitment’ is her motto, and Abby is convinced no one on earth could ever entice her into a romantic relationship . . . except that one guy she’s loved since preschool.
The guy who just walked into her bar. The guy who doesn’t recognize her. The guy who is drunk and needs a ride home. The guy who has a proposition she should definitely refuse.
TL;DR: This was a delightfully binge-able fake-dating/marriage romance that I had a really hard time putting down. Abby and Rex stole my heart and their romance made me swoon and sigh with happiness! I’m eagerly anticipating the next two books in the series, which I’m assuming will be about Cyrus and Alaric(?) and I absolutely cannot wait 😍
Yay for more holiday tags to add a little change of scenery on this blog! 😂 I saw this fun tag on Georgia @ Lost in Neverland‘s blog and decided to give it a go myself—and what better time to do a Christmas tag on Christmas itself? 😉
Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?
I actually don’t have a lot of books on my 2022 list yet and haven’t taken a proper look at all the lists I’ve seen floating around… But from what I’ve added to my smol list on Goodreads, I reckon I’m most excited for Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly!
Recently divorced and on the verge of bankruptcy, Dahlia Woodson is ready to reinvent herself on the popular reality competition show Chef’s Special. Too bad the first memorable move she makes is falling flat on her face, sending fish tacos flying—not quite the fresh start she was hoping for. Still, she’s focused on winning, until she meets someone she might want a future with more than she needs the prize money.Read more…
Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing it’s praises?
There are actually two books that immediately came to mind right now. Both have been loved this year, though one has been more hyped than the other, but both were five star reads and I haven’t had much opportunity to gush about them, but they’re *chefs kiss* perfection. The books are: Battle Royal by Lucy Parker and The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. Seriously, I love these couples. Their chemistry, their banter, the slow burn!I’m not much of a re-reader but I know I won’t be able to resist with these gems 😍
Ready… Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess. Read more…
When a fake relationship between scientists meets the irresistible force of attraction, it throws one woman’s carefully calculated theories on love into chaos. As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive on her way to a happily ever after was always going to be tough, scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting woman, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.Read more…
Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?
The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse is one of the few fantasies I’ve read this year but the world building was immaculate. This is a slow burn fantasy but it’s so worth the ride because aside from amazing world building, the writing is stunning!
My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur. All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.
I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path… Read more…
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s. Read more…
Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas
Ana Dakkar is a freshman at Harding-Pencroft Academy, a five-year high school that graduates the best marine scientists, naval warriors, navigators, and underwater explorers in the world. Ana’s parents died while on a scientific expedition two years ago, and the only family’s she’s got left is her older brother, Dev, also a student at HP. Ana’s freshman year culminates with the class’s weekend trial at sea, the details of which have been kept secret. She only hopes she has what it’ll take to succeed. All her worries are blown out of the water when, on the bus ride to the ship, Ana and her schoolmates witness a terrible tragedy that will change the trajectory of their lives.Read more…
Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling?
With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo wormed its way into my heart so quickly that I devoured this book in one sitting. It’s got delicious food/recipes, a wonderful protagonist, great supporting characters, and it’s simply a heartwarming story all around!
Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Read more…
Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favorite book covers?
There are too many to list so I decided to share one of my personal favourite bookstagram posts from when I used to post back in the day! 😆 It took me a while to lay it all out to make it look *seamless* but I had such a fun time making this photo and it displays some of the gorgeous book covers on my shelf!
Christmas Joy: What are some of your favorite things about Christmas And/Or some of your favorite Christmas memories?
My family and I don’t actually celebrate Christmas but I’ve spent a few Christmases with ex-partners and their families and some friends who really celebrate and I absolutely love the festive atmosphere. The cold weather (hey, I live in the tropics lol), the warm drinks, the delicious foods, the music (yes, yes) and of course the spirit of being with family and being thankful and sharing gifts (who doesn’t like getting gifts? But also getting someone a gift they love is such a great feeling 😍)!
And that’s it from me! I won’t be tagging anyone so if you see this and wanna do it, go wild (feel free to tag me so I can see your answers, too)! 😍 I hope everyone has had a good Christmas despite the panorama.
It’s been a while since I did a tag and after seeing a few holiday-themed ones floating around the blogosphere lately, I thought I’d jump on them too, even though I haven’t been tagged! 😂 I decided to go with the Baby, It’s Cold Outside tag cos I saw it on three blogs in one day and took that as a sign that I should kick off the holiday tags with this one. Now without further ado…
Thank the person who tagged you and link to their post.
Ugly Sweaters – What’s a book with the ugliest cover?
I… Actually can’t think of any books I own with ugly covers? I’m only choosing The Existence of Amy one because it is the plainest cover I own. Probably. 😕 BUT it’s a fantastic book about living with anxiety that had me wrapped up in my emotions cos relatable!
Snow Day – What’s your “comfort” book?
I’ve gained a few new comfort books lately so I’m sharing my latest: The Love Hypothesis. This romance was just… Everything! I love Olive and Adam and their romance gave me all the heartwarming comfort feels and I missed them the minute the book ended and I can’t wait to read it again. ❤️
Movie Marathon – What’s the last book you binge read?
It was actually a series. The Bridge Kingdom Series by Danielle L. Jensen. I buddy read this with Julie and we finished both books in 3 days? It was unputdownable and so worth the post-binge zombie vibes 😮💨 If you like your fantasy with a heavy dose of steamy romance and angst, I would highly recommend you check this one out ASAP!
Letter to Santa – What’s a book that’s on your wish list this year?
SO MANY books on my wishlist! But Iron Widow is currently holding the top spot on my wishlist and I hope that I can get my hands on it sooner rather than later 🙂
And that’s it from me dear friends! I won’t be tagging anyone specifically but if you see this and want to do it, feel free to (and tag me so I can check out your answers)! 😍 Hope everyone has a happy holiday season despite the madness of the world!
I’m not much of a seasonal reader but apparently, this is the year when holiday romances are my jam and I’m having a blast with them! I binged the Holiday Brothers series by Willa Nash in two days and they were delightfully festive holiday novellas that I have no doubt will put many in a merry mood!
One week with one little girl—an angel, according to my staffing agency. Acting as the short-term nanny for a single dad should have been an easy way to make some extra cash. Until I show up for my first day and face off with a demon disguised as a seven-year-old girl wearing a red tutu and matching glitter slippers.
Oh, and her father? My temporary boss? Maddox Holiday. The same Maddox Holiday I crushed on in high school. The same Maddox Holiday who didn’t even know I existed. And the same Maddox Holiday who hasn’t set foot in Montana for years because he’s been too busy running his billionaire empire.
Enduring seven days is going to feel like scaling the Himalayas in six-inch heels. Toss in the Holiday family’s annual soiree, and Christmas Eve nightmares really do come true. But I can do anything for a week, especially for this paycheck, even if it means wrangling the naughty, impressing the nice, and playing the nanny.
This little novella was a fun and quirky holiday romance with characters that had great chemistry and a story with a good dose of touching family moments. While ultimately the romance ended up being very insta-love, it didn’t feel like it initially as Natalie and Maddox built up a good foundation of trust and respect through their bond with Violet. This was a novella, so of course, I kind of expected the insta aspect of the romance, but I also thought it was handled well enough that it didn’t bother me overly much.
I really liked Natalie—she has such a good heart and I loved how she understood and came through for Violet when her mother was inattentive and constantly let her down. Nat was so bubbly and passionate about the children she took care of and it shone through. I also really enjoyed her more comedic monologue as she reflected on how high-school Nat would feel about working closely with Maddox and having flirty interactions with him—she was a really fun heroine and so easy to root for! Maddox was your slightly typical hot billionaire single-dad who doted on his little girl. I really liked how much he adored Violet and wanted to change his lifestyle to be better for her. He was a sweet guy and I’m glad that this was told in alternating POVs so we get a good insight into both their mindsets. The chemistry and pull between Mad and Nat was undeniable and was built up really well! It’s mildly steamy but the main sex scenes are fade-to-black, so if on-page sex isn’t your jam in romances, you’ll be okay with this one!
I pride myself in being grounded. Sure, I’ve had my share of childhood fantasies. Winning an Oscar. Winning the lottery. Winning an Olympic medal for an athletic talent I have yet to discover. But the only fantasy I ever thought might actually happen was winning my brother’s best friend.
Heath Holiday. My crush on him has ebbed and flowed over the years, but the day I started working for his construction company was the day I smothered it for good. Sort of. Mostly. It was on my to-do list. Making it a priority would have been easier had he not arrived at his family’s annual Christmas party looking ridiculously handsome in a suit.
Then he kissed me. We stepped into an alternate universe and he kissed me. I assumed the next day I’d just be Guy’s little sister again. The office newbie. Our kiss forgotten. Except he keeps showing up at my house. With gifts.
A gold bracelet carrying three jingling bells. Two dainty jeweled earrings, each shaped as a bow. And finally, he brought himself. One brother’s best friend, asking if I can keep a secret
If you read the first book in the Holiday Brothers series then you’ll probably remember the first cheeky glimpse we get into the blossoming romance between Stella and Heath, and if you were like me, you probably also couldn’t wait to find out how they got to that point! I ended up really enjoying the romance between these two and so far, this is my favourite book in this series. There were definitely some not-so-great moments that had me cringing and also shaking my fist in rage (on Stella’s behalf) but ultimately, these two had a wonderful connection that gave me the warm fuzzies and I was here for their happiness!
Again, because this is a novella, things move pretty quickly on the romantic front; however, I thought their connection as a result of their lifelong friendship and the mutual attraction they felt (and that they kept secret from each other) was established well enough that the fast pace didn’t feel unnatural. I’m not one for pining and angst but this had some great mutual pining that had me giggling because I just wanted them to get together already! I thought they suited each other really well and I loved how both of them were all-in from the beginning; despite the pretty uncool and bumbling secret-keeping fiascos instigated by Heath once they got together! I really liked them individually as well. Stella was a bit of a typical quirky heroine but I can’t lie, I loved the way she twisted aphorisms (and ngl, most of her twists make so much more sense)! 😂 I also loved the way she became an adorably *awkward* mess whenever she’d meet Heath—it’s just so relatable! Despite a few fumbles himself with the secret-keeping, Heath was a pretty good guy. He was a player in his younger days but I never got those vibes from him, even when we met him in book one, and his steady and hard-working presence was only proven in this story. I wished we got a little bit more character depth from both of them but I thought they were decently developed for a novella-length romance!
There are a lot of places I’d rather spend Christmas Eve morning than on a cold, snowy sidewalk outside someone else’s home. I’d kill to be sitting beside a fireplace, drinking cocoa, wearing flannel pajamas and reading a book.
Instead, I’m here, standing in front of my one-night stand’s house, working up the courage to ring the doorbell and tell him I’m pregnant.
I hate that term—one-night stand. It sounds so cheap and sleezy. Tobias Holiday is neither of those things. He’s handsome and caring. Witty and charismatic. And once, a long time ago, he was mine.
Our one-night reunion was only supposed to be a hookup. A fling with an old lover. A parting farewell before I moved to London and put my feelings for him an ocean away. How exactly am I supposed to explain that to Tobias that I’m having a baby? His baby? Maybe I could sing it. He always loved the silly songs I made up in the shower.
Three French hens, two turtle doves.
And a partridge and a pregnancy.
In the previous two books, we briefly learn about Tobias and the surprise pregnancy with his ex, Eva, but of the three brothers, he’s the one who has been around the least. It was great to finally meet him and get his story, but out of the three Holiday Brothers books, this one was probably my least favourite! I’d seen some mixed reviews and wasn’t even sure that I wanted to read it anymore cos I thought I’d end up annoyed but I’m glad I did and finished the series. It wasn’t that the story or writing was bad, I just didn’t connect with the characters.
From the reviews I’d seen, I had expected to find myself hating the heroine, but I felt more indifferent than anything. I mean, I didn’t particularly like or understand her, but I also empathised with her situation. With a job that has her frequently relocating on little notice, she lives a pretty lonely life and with her next big move already in the works, and now a surprise baby on the way, I think her being thrown for a loop was realistic. I would also probably be freaking out in this situation! But I did think she was a little selfish and I never really understood her desire to not stay when it was clear as day that Montana was home to her—what point was she trying to prove and to whom? (view spoiler)
That said, they also never properly discussed the situation because she either ran away as she doesn’t like confronting problems, or Tobias would get frustrated and say hurtful things, or both of them would get overwhelmed by the sexual tension and instead of talking, they’d have sex (which happened a few times). Tobias definitely could’ve been more communicative too and said what was on his mind—well, actually, they both definitely should’ve used their words and been y’know, adults about the situation (lol), but after being unceremoniously rejected by Eva at the end of their college years, I get why he felt that way and why he believed she didn’t want to stay.
Overall though, while they did have the chemistry of old lovers and their steamy moments were hot, I just never really felt invested in their story because it was just overly dramatic and I didn’t feel like it was for any good reason (or at least not a reason that I understood or that I felt was clearly explained). Obviously, their HEA was nice and I’m glad that they both found their happy place together, I just think their journey would’ve been better had they actually talked.
Have you read the Holiday Brothers series or is it on your TBR?
Goodreads: Window Shopping Published: 19 October 2021 Genre: Contemporary Romance
A sizzling, standalone, feel-good holiday romance from Tessa Bailey, New York Times bestselling author of It Happened One Summer. Two weeks before Christmas and all through Manhattan, shop windows are decorated in red and green satin. I’m standing alone in front of the famous Vivant department store, when a charming man named Aiden asks my opinion of the décor.
It’s a tragedy in tinsel, I say, unable to lie. He asks for a better idea with a twinkle in his eye. Did I know he owned the place? No. He put me on the spot. Now I’m working for that man, trying to ignore that he’s hot. But as a down on her luck girl with a difficult past, I know an opportunity when I see one—and I have to make it last.
I’ll put my heart and soul into dressing his holiday windows. I’ll work without stopping. And when we lose the battle with temptation, I’ll try and remember I’m just window shopping.
TL;DR: This reverse grumpy-sunshine romance was incredibly adorable, delightful, and so full of positive and festive holiday vibes! I think this is also the first romance/book I’ve read that directly references the pandemic, and while it was admittedly a little jarring to see things being so ‘normal’ when it’s still so not normal (and the pandemic so far from over) IRL, it was also nice and hopeful! I loved Stella and Aiden and despite the insta-love moments of their romance, I was sold on their connection and sizzling chemistry and they more than deserved their HEA!
Goodreads: In a Holidaze Publisher: Gallery Books Published: 06 October 2020 Genre: Contemporary Romance
One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.
But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.
The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.
TL;DR: It has been a long time since I’ve read a CLo book and now I’m wondering why! This book was such a fun and wonderfully festive holiday romance and it served a good dose of feel-good family vibes, a swoony albeit slightly cheesy romance, and likeable characters that you can’t help but root for and wish you were friends with, too! If you’re looking for a holiday read to lose yourself in for a little while, I would definitely recommend this one.
I was a little undecided about what to do for this freebie so I went the easy route and decided to share the holiday romances that I want to read this month! I’m not a big seasonal reader but in the last two years my list has (unsurprisingly) grown considerably 😂 I still don’t manage to read many of them each year but I try(!) and this year, these are the themed romances I’m hoping to read.
So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Books to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc.).
I wasn’t quite feeling this week’s topic because I’m not all that great at recommending anything to others whether it’s books, shows, movies, etc. I wasn’t sure what I would’ve gone with either but as I’m currently reading a romance series set in a small town, I thought why not just share a list of my favourite small-town romances? I know this is a pretty specific sub-genre but I love a good small-town romance especially when the town feels like its own character. There’s so much family and friendship history in these romances, plus, there are meddling townspeople that are usually well-meaning and endearing! With all the history there’s always lots of friends-to-lovers, second chances, enemies-to-lovers, and marriages of convenience—all of which are some of my favourite romance tropes!