I don’t know how the weather is by you, but here in my neck of the woods, it’s hot and muggy. It’s so humid, the local news shares its Muggy Meter each night to help you plan morning runs and dog walking. Here in the south, this sticky, muggy, oppressively hot weather won’t let up until we get closer to the end of the year. The knowledge that we are in the thick of muggy weather for the foreseeable future makes me long for Christmas in July! Lucky for me, I have a stack of holiday-themed books and some iced coffee just waiting for my attention.
A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
This book snuck up on me! I was not prepared to love it as much as I did. In fact, I enjoyed A Princess for Christmas so much, when I finished it my face morphed into the swoony heart-eyed emoji, and I immediately flipped back to the beginning to reread it. That is no joke, it is the perfect holiday read. It’s a bit like being in a Hallmark movie but with hot sexy, and dirty talking! And the first kiss doesn’t happen as the closing credits roll!
Leo Ricci is an absolutely delicious hero. His parents tragically died a few years earlier, causing him to abandon his college dreams of being an architect to return home to the Bronx to care for his younger sister. Gaby is fourteen years younger, and at a tender 11, she’s dealing with the trials and tribulations of middle school drama. Leo is a touch out of his depth, but he’s a great big brother, he listens to Gaby and does his best to guide her and help her find her own happiness. He juggles working two jobs, a building superintendent and a NYC cab driver, and still manages to be present for her school plays and events.
Princess Marie of Eldovia is in NYC speaking at the UN about the refuge crisis. The recent death of her mother has sent her father, the King, into a downward spiral of sadness, so Marie has taken on a more significant role within the royal family. With the fate of her small Alpine country resting on her shoulders, Marie ends up needing to hail a cab to get to an important meeting that could secure Eldovia’s financial future. Gruff cabbie Leo shows her more kindness than she’s experienced in a very long time. His protective instincts, coupled with his ridiculous good looks and smart assed charm, ignite sparks that can not be denied.
After a week of driving her around NYC, Princess Marie invites Leo and his little sister to spend the holidays in the picturesque country of Eldovia. In a nod to the insanity of his circumstances, Leo often refers to the country, and the entire situation as something akin to a Hallmark movie come to life. Marie is fond of not being treated like a princess, especially when Leo’s dirty talk is involved. And once Leo encourages her to vocalize her wants and desires, both in bed and out, Marie’s world blossoms in a way she never imagined possible. This super sweet but far from chaste book releases in October. Go ahead and pre-order it, you can thank me later! Everything about this book is just perfect.
The Merriest Magnolia by Michelle Major
The second book in Major’s Magnolia Sisters series hits the ground running and doesn’t disappoint. Set in Magnolia, North Carolina, its southern setting had me at hello! Carrie Reed discovered her half-sisters, Avery and Meredith, in the first books, but if you haven’t read it, you can start here.
Carrie’s first love, first broken heart, first everything, Dylan Scott is back in town and planning his next real estate development project. A lot is going on behind Dylan’s eyes that Carrie is not aware of. His deep sense of never being good enough come rushing to the surface when he returns to his hometown. Facing down the girl her left behind all those years ago stirs up unresolved feelings he’s tried to tamp down since he left. As the new guardian of a grieving teenager, he needs to make something of himself for more than his own self-interest. Carrie’s old wounds are ripped right open when she squares off with her lost love. Will they get a shot at a second chance? You’ll have to read it for yourself when it releases in October. It’s a great addition to the most wonderful time of the year, filled with small-town Christmas traditions, The Merriest Magnolia is a keeper.
Her Christmas Cowboy by Jessica Clare
I discovered Clare’s The Wyoming Cowboy series last year while searching for Christmas books. Her book, A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe, was the gateway I needed to fall in love with cowboys. Until then, I’d never been a big fan of cowboy-themed books. The earnestness of that book’s hero and the introduction of three massive, heavily bearded backcountry Alaskan cowboy transplants won me over. Color me giddy when I discovered we’d get another Christmas themed book this year!
Caleb Watson is our hero in book #5. He’s the quiet one who struggles to talk to women, especially one woman, particularly Amy, the town’s new elementary school teacher. And when I say struggles to talk, that is not hyperbole – Caleb can’t string two coherent words together, much less a complete sentence when Amy is within earshot! You can’t help but find Caleb endearing when he has to write himself notecards to read from when speaking to the woman he’s decided is the love of his life. His desire to be close to her leads him to volunteer as the town Santa to her Mrs. Claus during the school’s festivities. After several painful experiences, Amy and Caleb end up trapped in a closet. When the lights go out, Caleb’s tongue unties itself, and suddenly his heart and brain communicate his feeling to Amy. It’s a glorious revelation to witness! Caleb has the best words, and once they start flowing, Amy is helpless to his charms.
Amy deserves a break. Recently divorced from a hyper-controlling ex-husband, she’s determined to make a new life for herself. She’s used to a living a life of luxury, but after years of emotional abuse, she’s more than ready to shed all of the trappings of her old life…too bad her ex-husband doesn’t want to give her up. I was so excited to watch Amy finally find love with a man that appreciates and cherishes her. Caleb is a fantastic hero, and he might be my favorite of the three gruff Alaskan brothers, simply because he had to overcome so much to get his happily ever after. Her Christmas Cowboy releases in October. That gives you ample time to catch up on the series even though each book can easily be read as a standalone.
And speaking of cowboy/westerner/rancher holiday-themed books, there’s always a plethora of titles to choose from! While researching this article, I came across so many it seemed criminal to not list them for you! These books release late September through October of this year.
The Last Christmas Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Smoking Hot Cowboy Christmas by Kim Redford
Blue Sky Cowboy Christmas by Joanne Kennedy
I’ve mentioned my love of cozy mysteries in the past, so it feels right to drop a few holiday-themed ideas for you to consider. Plus, the titles are too good to ignore! Check these out.
Christmas Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Murders by Liz Ireland
Gingerdead Man by Maya Corrigan