It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I am firmly of the belief that Thanksgiving is the green light to put my Christmas tree and lights up, and bust out the Michael Buble, which of course is the perfect soundtrack to holiday themed books!
Here are two that I would recommend:
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
Royal Holiday is the fourth companion novel in The Wedding Date series. Even if you haven’t read the other three, don’t worry because this one can be enjoyed by itself with no prior knowledge of the series. The story begins when Vivian Forest gets the chance to go to England with her daughter Maddie, who we met in The Wedding Party. Maddie is styling a royal family member. There, she develops an attraction and flirtation with Malcolm Hudson, the private secretary to the Queen.
I loved Royal Holiday because The book takes place right around Christmas time so there are a ton of festive themes and a wintery setting. When I read it, the weather around here was just about getting chillier, which in Northern California means getting the scarves and boots out, and wearing coats in the morning. Vivian is a middle-aged Black woman and mother, from the Bay Area of California, and all of these roles and demographics play into shaping the woman she is. Malcolm is the first Black man to work for the royal family, something that he takes pride in because of its implications in terms of respect and racial history. The more physically intimate scenes are pretty fade-to-black but I didn’t mind because it suited the lighthearted and almost whimsical tone. My favorite part was their kiss under the mistletoe (not a spoiler because it’s in the blurb!), which made it truly the perfect holiday romance.
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
Seven Days of Us is also set in England, and follows the Birch family, who are dysfunctional, off-kilter, and plenty wealthy. Phoebe and Olivia, the two daughters, cannot be any more different. Phoebe is slightly spoiled, living at home, and Olivia is off working as a doctor in Liberia. This holiday season, however, she has been exposed to an epidemic illness and has been ordered, along with her family, to be quarantined together for a week, hence the title. Their mother Emma has been diagnosed with cancer but is trying to avoid telling the family until after the quarantine is over. Andrew, her husband, is a snobby food critic and is somewhat emotionally unavailable.
As a mother, I loved Emma and found her the most sympathetic because she was secretly so excited to spend a week with her family and being close with her daughters. Everyone was a little frustrating and self-absorbed, in that they refused to see why their other family members’ issues were important. They all refused to communicate with each other at one point or another. However, I think these two points provided the main challenges and tension in the plot, which is quintessentially a holiday book trope. This novel read like a Hallmark or Disney channel movie – quick to get through and somewhat formulaic and predictable but hit all the feels. Don’t expect any major plot twists and turns, but do expect to feel warm and cozy.