I enjoy romance novels year-round, but something about the holiday season just gives me a hankering for themed romance books. I’ve read some great ones, like His Road Home by Anna Richland (a Thanksgiving novella about a disabled war veteran and a doctor) or Season for Surrender by Theresa Romain (a bookish historical about a two-week Christmas party), but this year I’ve hit several duds in a row.
How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie by Gina Henning was the most disappointing. Christmas romances are everywhere, but what about Thanksgiving? I went on a searching spree and eventually decided on this one, which seemed to be the most popular Thanksgiving romance going. I kept reading long after I’d usually quit, waiting for it to get good, but it was just boring. The whole first 20% is just the main character describing herself and her incredibly grating family. Nothing interesting happens. At all. I tried skipping ahead to the meets cute (which should NOT be that far into a romance book!) and there was no chemistry because the writing was still just tedious description. This has some big fans on Goodreads, so your mileage may vary, but still. Disappointed.
Holiday Hideout, or specifically “Thanksgiving Fix” by Vicki Lewis Thompson, was chosen because I was having trouble finding Thanksgiving stuff. It’s the first novella in a set of three, by various authors, set at the same cabin at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, and bound in Holiday Hideout. I didn’t make it through it and didn’t bother reading the other two (although that’s probably not fair since they are different authors). It was just. so. heteronormative. The whole setup is the women literally making a list of all her reasons why she doesn’t need a man, but it’s very much a “protesting too much” vibe, and since the two are obviously going to get together, well…
One Snowy Night by Jill Shalvis was pretty similar as far as writing goes. I confess, this choice was based mostly on my library’s ebook availability, so I guess the lack of demand for this title should’ve told me something, but still. It’s about a man and a woman who dislike each other getting stuck in his truck during a snowstorm on the way to their hometown for Christmas. It sounds like a good novella concept, and there’s a dog. I like dogs. But it was melodramatic, the writing was repetitive, and I just didn’t care after the secrets turned out to be boring secrets.
I know I don’t usually like contemporary romance, so we can chalk these failures up to that I suppose, but a lot of holiday stuff seems to be contemporary. I’ve still got a few Christmas books to read in the next two weeks, but only one romance… It’s the fourth and last book in that Theresa Romain series, actually, so next year I won’t even have one of those to read, and that’s a Christmas tradition! Any recommendations, for this year or to bank for next year? Other winter holiday themes are welcome too, of course!