On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a stack of historical romances filled with mistletoe and hot lords a-leaping, all of them conveniently looking for love. Isn’t it nice that there are so many eligible aristocrats around at Christmastime?
In all seriousness, holiday romances are some of my favorites, and there’s something about a historical setting that really adds to the magic. One of the reasons I love a holiday romance is that they seem to encourage me to suspend my disbelief even more than usual – in the most delightful way. The second chances are even more rewarding, the meet cutes are even cuter, and the insta love practically sparkles with opportunity
Holiday romances work on my cynical, inner Scrooge like nothing else. When there’s a holly jolly setting, anything is possible!
Here are five historical romances to cozy up with this holiday season:
The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
Coming around the halfway point of Willig’s Pink Carnation series, The Mischief of the Mistletoe is an absolute romp. This positively adorable story features a romance between a handsome, good-natured bumbler and an intelligent wallflower who comes into her own as the book progresses. The romance is sweet, the side characters are a hoot, and there’s a bit of a mystery plot (involving a Christmas pudding, naturally). And as this book does not feature the modern storyline that ties the rest of the series together, it can easily be enjoyed out of order on its own.
With a hero nicknamed “Turnip” (it’s a long story) and cameos from a fictionalized Jane Austen, what more could a fun-loving historical romance reader want?
A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
This book has everything I want in a holiday romance. The quiet longing. The yearning. MY GOD THE YEARNING. Beginning with a broken engagement of convenience, this novella follows the genteelly raised Sophie Appersett as she tries one more time to get to know her would-be fiancé, wealthy merchant Edward Sharpe. What better way to try to get to know the real man behind the inscrutable and restrained exterior than to invite him to a holiday house party? People, I love me a reserved honorable man for my hero, and Edward is bringing that energy in spades.
Side note: Both the 1854 novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell and the spectacular BBC miniseries (featuring Richard Armitage as the ultimate Victorian thirst trap) are two of my favorite things, and this story is giving off some serious Christmas themed North and South vibes. AND I’M NOT MAD ABOUT IT.
Her Every Wish by Courtney Milan
I love a Christmas novella – they manage to pack just the right amount of romance in an easily digestible package. When other responsibilities of the season start to pile up, it’s nice to have something that you can consume and swoon over in one sitting. Courtney Milan certainly delivers with Her Every Wish.
Crash and Daisy are two entrepreneurs trying to get their respective businesses off the ground. Daisy has pinned her hopes on the local parish Christmas charity bequest, the winner being given funds to start a small business. With a past history that did not end well, Crash seems like an unlikely person to offer Daisy help as she prepares to compete for the cash prize. Or maybe SPOILER ALERT, he’s exactly who Daisy needs.
If you like a second chance romance and a historical setting that doesn’t feature the typical upper class aristocrats, this is the book for you!
How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Christmas Romance Anthology by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, and Joanna Shupe
One thing I really enjoy (and admire as a collaborative effort!) is a novella anthology, particularly those where the stories are somewhat connected or thematically tied together. The common thread in How the Dukes Stole Christmas is a supposedly enchanted shortbread, guaranteed to find you love. IT’S CHRISTMAS JUST GO WITH IT.
Between all the stories in this anthology you have insta love, enemies-to-lovers, second chance romance, childhood sweethearts, forced proximity, and pretty much every trope a romance lover could want.
Will you find romance this holiday season? Pass the shortbread, please.
The Holiday Pleasures series by Theresa Romain
My last suggestion is a bit of a cheat, since it’s actually four suggestions in one. The more the merrier, right? It’s not unusual for an author to make one of the novels in a romance series Christmas themed or set during the winter season, but Theresa Romain went one further and created an entire romance series where each of the four books is set during the holiday season.
While the books are connected, you can easily grab the one that looks most appealing to you and dive right in without being lost. My personal favorite is probably the final book Season for Desire. It’s a road trip romance, with some forced proximity thrown in for good measure.
One thing about a winter romance – you can always count on a snowstorm and a country inn to come to your rescue, right when you need it.