Monday, December 17, 2012

Short On Time, Long On Christmas

In a comment in a previous post, Ruth asked what some of my favorite Christmas reads were.  It's pretty obvious by reading this blog that I do enjoy reading "short."  I like short stories, novellas, and I love category romance.  Well during the month of December?  I really, really like reading "short."  With added things on my to-do list, along with the normal every-day stuff I have to do on top of that?  Yeah, my minuscule attention span snaps at the thought of any book over 300 pages. 

I went over my reading lists for the previous several years, and also dug around in the keeper stash.  Here is a short list of titles I came up with to satisfy Ruth's curiosity.  All category romance, and all reads I really enjoyed.

First, let's kick things off with the Harlequin Historical western anthologies.  Because, you know, I'm a ho for Harlequin Historical and westerns:

Title links take you to full reviews:

Western Winter Wonderland by Cheryl St. John, Jenna Kernan and Pam Crooks - The St. John story is a real gem about an Old Maid heroine (33!) falling for the new town doctor (a younger man!) with two small children.  The Kernan story is a cabin romance featuring a bounty hunter hero and the Crooks story features a heroine with a very unusual job (she trains carrier pigeons for the Army!).

The Magic of Christmas by Carolyn Davidson, Victoria Bylin and Cheryl St. John - I'll be honest, the Davidson story didn't work for me at all, but the Bylin and St. John stories saved the day.  The Bylin story features a former snooty rich girl turned fallen woman.  The St. John story features a heroine trying to track down her wayward sister, only to come across her newborn twin nephews instead.

Snowflakes and Stetsons by Jillian Hart, Carol Finch and Cheryl St. John - The Hart story features an, actually!, plausible secret baby plot, the Finch story adds a dollop of humor after the Hart angst and the St. John story features a hero and heroine trapped on a stranded Pullman train car together....with two orphans, naturally.

Now, on to the full length category romances!

Title links will take you to full reviews.

The Christmas Stranger by Beth Cornelison - For those of you who want some suspense tossed in with your holidays.  A widowed heroine whose husband was murdered and a seriously down-on-his-luck hero.  The suspense wasn't a mind-bender, but this was a solid read and the first in a trilogy.

Under the Boss's Mistletoe by Jessica Hart - This is the book that introduced me to Jessica Hart, who has quickly become one of my favorite category writers.  Hero inherits stately English manor and decides renting it out for occasions is the only way to keep it afloat.  The heroine is a wedding planner.  The Christmas theme is very different here.  It doesn't take place over Christmas!  Instead the hero and heroine need to get the house ready for a Christmas-themed magazine photo shoot, months before the holidays.

Dear Santa by Karen Templeton - Reserved cold fish hero finds himself a full-time single father to a four-year-old after his ex-wife dies in a car accident.  Completely out of his depth he reaches out to the heroine, his dead ex's BFF.  It's a great read, and the first book in a trilogy.

Sleigh Ride With a Rancher by Donna Alward - Alward likes to slather on the angst in her Harlequin Romance books and I am a major ho for angst.  This story features a running scared heroine paired with a wounded, scarred hero who likes to "fix" people.

Sorry, no full-length reviews for these two!

The Nights Before Christmas by Vicki Lewis Thompson - Thompson is the ultimate hit or miss author for me, but this story was a hit for me when it read it years ago.  Blue-collar hero who is a handyman for an apartment complex.  Heroine who has the hots for him and hears through the grapevine that he fixes more than leaky pipes for the single ladies in the building.  A great read from the dearly departed Temptation line.

The Man Who Loved Christmas by Kathryn Shay - The second book in Shay's America's Bravest series for SuperRomance is an opposites attract storyline.  Firefighter hero that loves Christmas so much he plays Santa Claus every year.  The heroine lost her husband and child one Christmas, so needless to say she's not a huge fan of the holiday.  On top of that?  He's a risk-taker and she's by-the-book - and oh yeah, they're training recruits together. (Note: I'm not finding a stand-alone digital copy of this title available.  You can purchase it in a bundle though with the other three books in the series - which is where the title link will take you).

And that, as they say, is that.  This very likely just the tip of the iceberg, given that I lost a lot of my past reading records in the Great Computer Meltdown Of 2008 (whimper).  But hey, this is a good jumping off point and I freakin' love Christmas romances.  Suggestions welcome in the comments!


Brie said...

Good lord! I've only read two of the books on the list *runs away before the need to one-click everything takes over*

I'm fine with any length: short, category, novella, etc. But the shorter the length, the harder to pull off a convincing romance, so those author who make it work, are usually keepers.

My favorite shorter stories of the year (including novellas and category) were Ride with Me by Ruthie Knox, Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun, everything Charlotte Stein published (except Sheltered), and The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan. If you read m/m, Blind Eye Books' anthology, Irregulars, was amazing. I also read a bunch of great Superromances, but those are getting longer and longer.

Now I'm off to buy some books!

Anita - Assistente Administrativa said...

I have to thank Ruth for prompting you to write this post. As a lover of Christmas stories (short or long) I am always looking for more recommendations.

I have read 2 books from your list - Western Winter Wonderland and The Man Who Loved Christmas - and I will definitely check out the others...

Anonymous said...

Have you read Christmas with Her Boss? Category. Pretty much my favorite Christmas romance novel ever.

Wendy said...

Brie: Yeah, Supers are back to the longer word count, which honestly makes me happy. Those stories just work better longer.

I have the Ruthie Knox....uh somewhere. Picked it up at RWA. I need to try the Calhoun and I need to get caught up on review books so I can indulge in more Charlotte Stein!

Wendy said...

Ana: Every year at this time my credit card starts weeping if I head on over to Harlequin's web site. Every other book seems to be a Christmas one - and I'm a total sucker for them!

Wendy said...

Beth: Just checked it out on GoodReads! One of my category reading twins also really liked it - so I'm definitely sold now. Will have to check it out.