Santa, Baby by Eliza McLane
Santa, Baby (Holiday Nights #1)
Pub Date: 12 November 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance
She’s the intriguing and utterly lust-worthy little sister of his best friend. He’s the adorably hot guy she’s crushed on for a decade. They’ve never crossed that line, but now they’re snowed in together on an adult film set–and the cameras are rolling.
Nick has always wanted to check playing Santa off his struggling actor bucket list. But when he arrives at the gig to find people, well, filling each other’s stockings, it’s obvious he missed the small print: the job is Christmas porn, and he’s the grand finale. And his director and co-star? The off-limits sister of his best friend.
Holly lives a double life: quiet and conservative at home, brassy and bossy at her secret work in adult films. When Nick shows up on set she expects disaster, but there’s a hunger in his eyes as he watches her take charge on set, and they’re both eager to let their attraction take fire–for the sake of work, of course.
When an approaching snowstorm sends the crew home, it’s up to Nick and Holly to save her movie, and they agree to indulge for just one night. But when dirty talk and a decade of longing lead to deeper conversations and cozy cuddling, they’ll start to wonder if the Christmas miracle they make together can last all year long.
Author’s note: Santa, Baby is a steamy and sweet novella (about half the length of a typical romance) full of big feelings and filthy, dirty-talking sex. In its pages you’ll find a brother’s-best-friend romance full of sex-positivity, a totally besotted hero, and lots of sparkling Christmas spirit–all with an empowering HEA.
⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS
Toxic family relationships (controlling and close-minded parents), parental abandonment recounted, parent with depression and addiction
This was a cute, sexy and sex-positive holiday romance with plenty of fun tropes including brother’s best friend romance, grumpy/sunshine, getting snowed-in and staying stuck together (oop, we love it)! 😉 It was a take on romance featuring the adult entertainment industry that I’ve never read before and I found that refreshing. If you’re looking for a steamy read to add to your holiday romance list, this should definitely get on there!
I thought the story was well-written and the characters were well-developed for a novella. Nick is the happy-go-lucky Christmas-loving guy spreading holiday cheer everywhere he goes and in contrast, Holly is a bit of a quiet grinch who dislikes the holiday because of her toxic relationship with her close-minded and controlling family. There has always been an attraction between them that they’ve never acted upon as her brother is Nick’s bestie, so it’s a major shock that the quiet girl he’s always been curious about is directing the adult film he’s been hired for. It’s clear that their perceptions of each other are so different to what they’re like IRL and I loved seeing Nick and Holly get to know each other away from the connection that ties them together, Holly’s douchenugget of a brother. He is so encouraging and supportive of Holly and I loved how he showed her that she deserves to be surrounded by people who appreciate her and make her happy. The way he gave her the kind of Christmas she’s always dreamed of was so swoony and their steamy scenes were fire—there was definitely no lack of chemistry between them! But mixed in with the dirty-talking sex scenes were plenty of heartfelt and intimate moments that were very sweet and balanced the romance nicely!
Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison
Lovelight Farms (Lovelight #1)
Pub Date: 10 November 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Where the lovelight gleams…
A pasture of dead trees. A hostile takeover of the Santa barn by a family of raccoons. And shipments that have mysteriously gone missing. Lovelight Farms is not the magical winter wonderland of Stella Bloom’s dreams.
In an effort to save the Christmas tree farm she’s loved since she was a kid, she enters a contest with instafamous influencer Evelyn St. James. With the added publicity and the $100,000 cash prize, she might just be able to save the farm from its financial woes. There’s just one problem. To make the farm seem like a romantic destination for the holidays, she lied on the application and said she owns Lovelight Farms with her boyfriend. Only… there is no boyfriend.
Enter best friend Luka Peters. He just came home for some hot chocolate, and somehow got a farm and a serious girlfriend in the process.
⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS
Parental abandonment, parental infidelity recounted, alcohol abuse mentioned, grief & loss depiction, death of a parent recounted
This would be a great addition to your holiday romance reading lists because it’s perfectly atmospheric and the romance is sweet with a little bit of steam. This is for those who enjoy soft friends-to-lovers romances with cute heart-fluttering fake-dating moments! Though I didn’t end up loving this as much as I thought I would, I still thought this was a solid debut from Borison and I get why it’s so well-loved. 😍
The small-town and Lovelight Farms setting was great and the atmosphere perfectly captured the transition from fall to Thanksgiving to full-blown winter! Borison also did a great job of capturing little bits of small-town life full of nosy but well-meaning neighbourhood friendlies and though I wanted a bit more of it, I still really enjoyed the interactions we got between them and our MCs! I adored the side characters and what they brought to the story, especially Beckett, Layla and Dane. I think the difficulty I had was that I didn’t fully connect with either Stella or Luka and I didn’t feel the stakes of their fake-dating romance. The story is told from one POV, which already isn’t my favourite, but I was also pretty on the fence about Stella. She’s hardworking and ambitious but she’s also incredibly stubborn, gets in her own way and made frustrating decisions. I understood her fears but she also kept putting herself back in toxic situations, and not to sound too harsh, but I thought a lot of the sadness she felt was of her own making. This was especially true when it came to Luka and the “conflict” really frustrated me! 🤦🏻♀️ Sadly, while I thought Luka was adorable, and I loved his gleeful geekiness and how he would do practically anything for Stella, he felt flat and it made me wish even more that we got his POV!
The Geek Who Saved Christmas by Annabeth Albert
The Geek Who Saved Christmas
Pub Date: 09 November 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance/LGBTQIA+
His grumpy neighbor needs some holiday sunshine…
Gideon Holiday is the perfect neighbor. Need a cup of sugar? Spare folding chair? Extra batteries? He’s always ready to help. And he’s waited years for his hot, grumpy, silver fox neighbor, Paul, to need him. For anything. But this December, Gideon would be happy if he could just get the Scrooge-like Paul on board with the neighborhood holiday lights fundraiser.
Paul Frost has no intention of decking his halls or blazing any Yule logs. Even if his spunky bowtie-clad neighbor does look perfect for unwrapping, Paul would prefer to hide away until December is done. But when his beloved younger brother announces an unexpected visit, Paul needs all the trimmings for a festive homecoming—and fast.
Luckily, Gideon is there with a color-coded plan to save Christmas. Soon Paul’s hanging lights, trimming trees, and rolling out cookies. And steaming up his new flannel sheets with Gideon. How did that happen?
It’ll take some winter magic to preserve their happiness and keep these rival neighbors together longer than one holiday season.
The Geek Who Saved Christmas is a low-angst m/m holiday romance with a guaranteed happy ending. This grumpy/sunshine, neighbors-to-lovers, found family tale features two heroes in their forties figuring out that maybe their sexily-ever-after was right next door the whole time. It stands alone and is not connected to any of the author’s other universes. However, it does contain a heaping helping of the same emotions and steamy moments readers have come to expect!
⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS
Death of parents recounted, off-page, childhood family trauma recounted, toxic family relationships
This was a cute, sweet and festive grumpy-sunshine MM romance and it was absolutely full of holiday activities and spirit! There’s so much shopping, sentimental talks about holiday memories, and of course, all the Christmas decorating! As much as I enjoyed this one though, I didn’t feel particularly strongly about much of it—it was well-written and enjoyable, and I liked our MCs but I also didn’t feel an abundance of chemistry and at times felt a bit bored, which made the book seem very long.
I loved that Gideon and Paul are in their 40s and that the story delves into the aspects that make it a tough time of year for both of them. I think it’s a good reminder that not everyone has good memories and experiences of the holiday season for various reasons, but it’s also a heartwarming story about finding happiness and showing appreciation for your loved ones. Despite their personality differences, Gideon is the sunshine to Paul’s grump they’re both lonely and don’t have big or caring families to spend the holidays with. Both of their stories broke my heart but it was put back together again by seeing them allow each other into their lives by being emotionally vulnerable. I think one of my main grips would be the communication aspect. They eventually get it together, and I appreciate that there was no major blowout (this is a low-angst romance after all!), but they were so open with everything else and I wished they’d been straight about their feelings too. This book was like a Hallmark romance but with steam (not overly explicit) and the HEA was sweet and satisfying!
Do you read holiday romances and have you read any of these or are they on your TBR? If you have any holiday romance reccos, please share!