22 Christmas Romance Books That Will Put You in the Holiday Spirit
Grab a cup of hot cocoa and read these heartwarming Christmas romance books by the light of the tree
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Merry and bright Christmas romance books
For many of us, the day after Thanksgiving marks the much-anticipated start of the Christmas season. It’s the time of year to cast aside moody reads and reach for all things sweet and cozy (Hallmark Christmas movies, anyone?). And what’s more merry and magical than a stack of new Christmas romance books? Whether you prefer sparkly small-town love stories or magical meet-cutes in the city, we’ve got the perfect sweet (and sometimes spicy!) yuletide romances for you.
To kick-start your holiday season, we curated a list of the best books for December that combine all the joy and warmth of your favorite Christmas books with the swoonworthy relationship drama of a romance. Here, you’ll find novels by debut authors and bestselling writers alike, along with a few YA holiday romances to round out the bunch.
Grab a mug of hot chocolate, settle in by a roaring fire and pick up one of these most-anticipated books of the holiday season.
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1. The Christmas Wager by Holly Cassidy
Release date: Sept. 26, 2023
The Christmas Wager is one of those Christmas romance books that opens like your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie: Bella is a cutthroat Los Angeles businesswoman who needs to clinch the deal with a Colorado shop owner by Christmas. Jesse is a small-town handyman whose love for the holiday season is matched only by his love for his grandpa, the business owner in question. And he steps in just in time to save his grandpa from signing over his business for a shockingly low price. So the two icy strangers make a deal: They’ll compete in the town’s annual holiday games. Whoever wins gets to set the price. Get ready for a hilarious, wholesome face-off between strangers who have every reason to hate each other—but can’t deny a seed of attraction.
2. A December to Remember by Jenny Bayliss
Release date: Sept. 26, 2023
When I first started reading A December to Remember, I wasn’t sure why it had been marketed as a holiday romance novel. The prologue involves an eccentric older man writing a letter before riding off into the sunset in a camper van. But the real story begins several years later, as the man’s three daughters come together for his funeral on a dreary November day. The half sisters receive a set of strange instructions to unlock their inheritances. As the Winter Solstice approaches, the trio’s bond deepens, and their individual romances sparkle and shine in new ways.
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3. Wrapped with a Beau by Lillie Vale
Release date: Sept. 26, 2023
I expected another sweet, wholesome Christmas romance when I picked up a copy of Wrapped with a Beau. While this small-town enemies-to-lovers story has plenty of sugar, it was also loaded with enough spice to make me blush (or maybe it was just the crackling warmth of the fire?). In the book, Elisha Rowe is a Piney Peaks native determined to make her town famous again by finagling the filming of a sequel to a 50-year-old Christmas classic shot in the house across the street. The only problem? The house was just inherited by city slicker Ves Hollins, who is equally determined to sell the place so he can get back to his life. Of course, sparks fly.
4. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
Release date: Oct. 1, 2019
Although Royal Holiday is the fourth book in Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date romance book series, you can enjoy it as a stand-alone holiday read. Vivian Forest is thrilled when her daughter invites her on a whirlwind Christmas work trip to style one of the British royals. As the tag-along family member, she’s prepared to stay out of the way while exploring as much of London as possible. But then she meets the royals’ private secretary. A little flirtation never hurt anyone, right? Readers who love London, the royals and midlife romance will fall head over heels for this one.
5. Flying Home for Christmas by Helen Whitaker
Release date: Oct. 12, 2023
Flying Home for Christmas begins with one of the sweetest meet-cutes I’ve ever read or witnessed in a romantic Christmas movie or book. It’s Christmas Eve, and a gnarly snowstorm has frozen operations at Portland International Airport. No one’s flying in or out until early Christmas morning. Miraculously, Londoner Thea snags the last hotel room left in the airport region. But when she arrives, the manager miserably tells Thea and a tall, handsome stranger that the reservation system had a glitch and double-booked them into the same room. Two perfect strangers stuck together on a snowy Christmas Eve: It’s the perfect setup for what turned out to be one of my favorite Christmas romance books on the list.
6. The Wake-Up Call by Beth O’Leary
Release date: Sept. 26, 2023
This enemies-to-lovers romance belongs in your stack of festive feel-good books made for the holiday season. The Wake-Up Call will transport you to the front desk of the impossibly cozy Forest Manor Hotel, where Izzy and Lucas must survive the holiday shift together despite her bitterness over being rejected by him the year before. When Izzy finds some wedding rings in the lost-and-found closet, the two compete to be the first to find the rings’ owners—and earn enough reward money to save the hotel. Throw in a little grumpy/sunshine banter and a light mystery subplot, and you’ve got one of the best Christmas romance books for winter vacation. “Beth O’Leary earned a major fan when I read her 2019 debut, The Flatshare,” writes one Reader’s Digest editor. “And while that’s still my favorite of her books, I can say The Wake-Up Call does not disappoint. The romance is fun and funny, and the side characters shine.”
7. Love in Winter Wonderland by Abiola Bello
Release date: Oct. 3, 2023
Brimming with heart-swelling chemistry and witty bookworm banter, Love in Winter Wonderland is the story of two college students working at the local Black-owned independent bookshop, Wonderland. While the two don’t get along initially, the news that their beloved bookstore is in financial trouble gives them sudden and disorienting common ground. As the two race to raise enough money to keep Wonderland open past Christmas Eve, their fledgling friendship develops into deeper feelings of admiration and, yes, maybe even love. It’s a charming young adult book that will give you all the warm fuzzies.
8. Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle
Release date: Oct. 24, 2022
Looking for an escapist read as the holiday season nears? Pick up a copy of Just Like Magic. When it begins, main character Bettie is fretting over how to measure up to her family’s expectations this holiday season. And then she accidentally summons an actual Christmas spirit named Hall. (Yes, as in “deck the halls.”) He’s handsome, sweet and the perfect fake fiance to get Bettie through Christmas. “This is so over the top, and yet I was laughing the entire way through,” says a Reader’s Digest editor who recommended the book. “It’s a sweet, light escape in the way the best holiday romances always are.” If you’re a fan of fantasy romance but want something grounded in our world for the Christmas season, this ridiculous (and ridiculously hilarious) read is for you.
9. One Day in December by Josie Silver
Release date: Oct. 16, 2018
One day in December, Laurie is minding her own business on the bus home when she locks eyes with a stranger outside. Her world is turned upside-down in just a few seconds—could love at first sight be real? She spends the next year scouring the streets and bus stops nearby for her missed connection. The plot thickens when, a year later, Laurie meets her best friend’s boyfriend at a holiday party. You’ve guessed it: It’s the guy from the bus! Thus begins a yearslong tale of December filled with all the darkness and light of friendship and love. Brimming with sentimentality that borders on angst, One Day in December is the sort of holiday story you’d expect from a comforting Lifetime Christmas movie.
10. You’re a Mean One, Matthew Prince by Timothy Janovsky
Release date: Oct. 4, 2022
Fancy a small-town holiday fling with Schitt’s Creek vibes? Look no further than You’re a Mean One, Matthew Prince. Matthew is young, hot and rich. In other words: spoiled. So he’s predictably pouty after getting stranded in his grandparents’ small town for Christmas. But when he gets the opportunity to leave town early if he takes over the local charity gala, he jumps at the chance. He’ll just have to keep his eye on the prize (freedom!) instead of on Hector Martinez, the impossibly sexy local with an attitude.
“It’s hard to root for a spoiled-brat character, but Timothy Janovsky manages to make Matthew Prince likable,” writes a Reader’s Digest editor who read this book. “The story has the best of both Christmas and rom-coms: A festive scene of baking cookies? Check. Enough banter to keep you laughing from start to finish? Double check.” This LGBTQ+ read is as frothy and sweet as a cup of Christmas eggnog.
11. In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Release date: Oct. 6, 2020
I read In a Holidaze on a cold, rainy weekend that called for a comfort read. The story of two old friends finally getting a chance under the mistletoe, thanks to a Groundhog Day–style time loop, was such a treat. Maelyn Jones is stuck in a rut. She’s living with her parents and hates her job. And she just found out that the cabin where she and family friends have spent every Christmas together since childhood is about to be sold—all before she’s had the guts to tell one of those friends that she’s been in love with him for years. But when a post-Christmas car accident knocks her back a week, she gets to fix a few things. This fast-paced read is a fun blend of a time-travel book and a classic Christmas rom-com.
12. The Christmas Spirit by Debbie Macomber
Release date: Oct. 18, 2022
No list of Christmas romance books is complete without Debbie Macomber. This prolific author has churned out more than 150 cozy fiction books, several of which have been turned into Hallmark Christmas movies. Her most recent holiday love story, The Christmas Spirit, focuses on best friends Peter Armstrong and Hank Colfax. Peter is the local pastor, while Hank is the local bartender. When the two decide to swap jobs until Christmas, hilarity, holiday magic and—of course—some holiday romances unfold.
13. The Wishing Bridge by Viola Shipman
Release date: Nov. 7, 2023
Big-city dreams and small-town life collide in the latest heart-warmer from bestselling author Viola Shipman. When The Wishing Bridge opens, Henri Wegner has one goal: close a big deal that’ll keep her job secure. All she has to do is convince her parents to sell their Christmas store to a big corporation. But her cutthroat plan starts to crumble as she spends time in her hometown, which isn’t quite as awful as she remembers. This women’s fiction title has it all: family drama, holiday cheer and a strong emotional heart.
14. In the Event of Love by Courtney Kae
Release date: Aug. 30, 2022
If a slow-burning sapphic love story between two friends with history sounds like a treat, In the Event of Love belongs at the top of your Christmas reading list. Even New York Times bestselling romance author Helen Hoang called this one “perfect for the holidays.” After a professional nightmare lands her in the tabloids, event planner Morgan Ross decides the only way to lick her wounds in peace is to head home for the holidays. Once there, she discovers the Christmas tree farm owned by the family of her childhood best friend, Rachel, is in trouble. She tells herself she can step in if she doesn’t let old feelings for Rachel get in the way. But the most wonderful time of the year sure is ripe for romance …
15. Amor Actually: A Holiday Romance Anthology edited by Mackenzie Walton
Release date: Dec. 3, 2021
Short stories are easy to squeeze into the gaps of a busy December. You can get a quick hit of festive romance while waiting in the school pickup line or enjoy a satisfying narrative arc in that 30 minutes of reading before bed. Amor Actually is a holiday anthology with nine love stories from Latinx authors. Each is a happily-ever-after tale taking place on Christmas Eve in New York City. Consider it a holly, jolly version of the Amazon Studios feel-good Modern Love series. Fair warning, readers: Spice level varies by story, so stay alert if you’re not one for steamy romances.
16. Two Christmases by Suleena Bibra
Release date: Oct. 25, 2022
Would you rather spend the holidays in New York City or the countryside of South Carolina? That’s one of the central questions in this city-meets-country Christmas love story. Sonia Gupta and Beau Abbot are total opposites. She’s a lively New York art lover. He’s a Southerner in town on business. Despite their differences, sparks fly, and the pair agree to give each other’s favorite holiday setting a shot. But what’s the end game if you fall for a person but not their home? Two Christmases is the perfect holiday romance for Hallmark Christmas fans who crave more diversity (and a little steaminess).
17. The Christmas Clash by Suzanne Park
Release date: Oct. 4, 2022
If you love Romeo and Juliet retellings, add The Christmas Clash to your stack of Christmas romance books. Between being in different crowds at school and their families owning rival restaurants in the Riverwood Mall food court, Chloe Kwon and Peter Li were never meant to be friends. But then comes the news that the mall is closing. As Chloe and Peter band together to brainstorm how to save Riverwood before the new year, they bond over food, family ties and more than a little flirtation. It’s a sweet, festive love story with strong Asian American representation.
18. The Christmas Café by Eliza Evans
Release date: Oct. 31, 2023
Welcome to Silver Bells, Wisconsin. It’s a town so cozy the Holiday Channel has sent an all-star cast there to film its next December romance movie. That’s good news for the Christmas Café, the town’s happy little hideaway teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Resident baker Sylvie West knows that if she can entice the crew to film a scene inside the cafe, the resulting fame might keep the business from sinking. Getting the attention of lead actor Royce might be a ticket to a different kind of happily-ever-after in this wonderfully festive book.
19. Mistletoe in Juneau by Dahlia Rose
Release date: Oct. 19, 2021
Mistletoe in Juneau is the kind of wholesome holiday love story you’d see on the Hallmark Channel. It was published by Hallmark Publishing, after all. Meet Danni, a social media influencer escaping to Juneau, Alaska, for Christmas. Her trip is meant to be a temporary break from city life, but meeting the town’s handsome ex-military state trooper might have her second-guessing her life’s trajectory. This one is perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber who are looking for more diversity in their fiction or who want to read romance books by Black authors.
20. Kiss Her Once for Me by Alison Cochrun
Release date: Nov. 1, 2022
Alison Cochrun has made a name for herself as the author of three queer love stories. In Kiss Her Once for Me, she takes on the festive season with the tale of Ellie, a down-on-her-luck barista who agrees to marry her boss so that he can claim his inheritance and split it with her. When they travel to meet his family for Christmas, she realizes she’s met his sister, Jack, before. One year ago, on Christmas Eve, the two shared a magical evening that started at a bookstore and ended with a broken promise to meet again. So, what will it be: Destroy the ruse for a chance at real love? Or get Jack to stay quiet so Ellie can get the money she desperately needs?
21. A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
Release date: Nov. 2008
A Virgin River Christmas, Robyn Carr’s fourth installment in the Virgin River book series, is a stand-alone novel about Marcie Sullivan, a widow who arrives in town to find one of her late husband’s fellow marine combatants. At first, Ian’s gruff exterior intimidates her. But as she pushes her way into his daily life by becoming part of the Virgin River community, he can’t help but take notice. Can two stubborn, wounded hearts help each other learn to trust—maybe even love—again? But of course!
22. Second Chances in New Port Stephen by TJ Alexander
Release date: Dec. 5, 2024
Readers on the hunt for fresh queer rom-coms will want to add Second Chances in New Port Stephen to their must-read list. Meet Eli Ward, a trans man who is fresh off a scandal that threatens to end his career as a TV writer and comedian. After dragging his feet home for the holidays, he runs into his ex-boyfriend, Nick. Nick, who is now divorced. Nick, who is a single father. Nick, who is so much hotter than Eli remembers. They’re both dealing with a lot—Eli, his career; Nick, his daughter—but they just might be the best thing for each other. The book is a funny, steamy and tender read.
Other holiday romances to read
Despite the profusion of red and green and Santa themes, we know there’s more to the festive season than Christmas. And that means there are other types of winter holiday romances to read. Check out these happily-ever-afters for settings that involve Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Diwali.
- Three Holidays and a Wedding by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley
- A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli
- The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
- Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell
- Kwanzaa by Kismet by Layne Daniels
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