We’re basking in the aftermath of the giving holidays and with New Year’s Eve on the way, this week offers one more chance to crack open a feel-good, seasonal novel with sparks of romance. December in New England is equally beautiful and brisk, so here are eight winter romance novels with local ties to bring the heat into New Year’s. Heat up your cocoa and don fuzzy socks to get the full experience.
“Eight Nights of Flirting” by Hannah Reynolds
Young adult romance author Hannah Reynolds calls Cambridge home. For her romance novel “Eight Nights of Flirting,” Reynolds’s protagonist Shira is determined to get a boyfriend before Hanukkah. She already has the perfect person in her sights. However, her plans are derailed when she is snowed in with her former crush, now nemesis Tyler. They begrudgingly strike a deal, with Shira receiving flirting advice from Tyler and Tyler benefitting from Shira’s connections. As she gets to know Tyler, Shira’s past feelings bubble to the surface, threatening her and Tyler’s holiday agreement.
“A Merry Little Meet Cute” by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone
Known for her best-selling novel “Dumplin’,” Julie Murphy was born in Connecticut before eventually relocating to North Texas. In collaboration with author Sierra Simone, the writers published their steamy, winter rom-com this past September. The book follows plus-size, adult-film star Bee as she adjusts to being cast in a family-friendly Christmas special. Filming in a quaint (fictional) Vermont town, Bee begins a fling with her childhood crush, a former boy band member, complicating production’s efforts to conceal her previous career.
“Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor” by Lisa Kleypas
A Wellesley alumna and former Miss Massachusetts, Lisa Kleypas, juxtaposes seasonal cheer with three lost souls searching for companionship in her 2010 novel. Six-year-old Holly has just lost her mother, loner Mark Nolan never imagined taking in an orphan, and widow Maggie Collins is overwhelmed by grief. Nevertheless, the three cross paths and form a bond that will last through the holiday season and beyond.
“Faking Under the Mistletoe” by Ashley Shepherd
Massachusetts-based writer Ashley Shepherd’s 2019 trope-heavy romance follows “human embodiment of Christmas cheer,” Olivia Langley. Dubbed the organizer of holiday festivities for her company, Olivia puts her all into bringing her co-workers together. Circumstances become more complicated when she kisses her boss, Asher, in front of his ex-girlfriend, at a tree-lighting ceremony. After realizing Asher’s lack of holiday joy, Olivia resolves to get him in the spirit, by any means necessary.
“Five Tuesdays in Winter” by Lily King
Award-winning novelist Lily King, who lives in Maine, is known for her faceted protagonists and insightful premises and “Five Tuesdays in Winter” is no exception. The collection of 10 short stories guides readers through the pain and triumph of everyday life and love of every kind. From a bookstore clerk’s secret flame for his employee to a grandfather sitting at his granddaughter’s bedside, King depicts the everlasting search for love despite immense heartache.
“Nantucket White Christmas” by Pamela M. Kelley
Author Pamela Kelley found inspiration close to home in her third book of seven set in the fictional community of Beach Plum Cove. In this one, protagonist Angela Stark was born on Christmas and has always despised the holiday. When she is fired and evicted during the holiday season, her distaste only grows. To complicate matters, Angela is notified that her grandmother, whom she didn’t know she had, has died, leaving Angela her Nantucket cottage. Angela doesn’t expect to like it in Beach Plum Cove, but then she finds her grandmother’s old diary and sparks fly when she meets film producer Philippe.
“Royal Holiday” by Jasmine Guillory
In Wellesley College alumna Jasmine Guillory’s “Royal Holiday,” Vivian Forest visits the United Kingdom for the first time, tagging along with her daughter Maddie. Maddie has a job styling a member of the royal family, and the two women are thrust into the day-to-day operations of the English monarchy. Sparks fly when Vivian meets the Queen’s personal secretary Malcolm Hudson. After a kiss under the mistletoe, Vivian and Malcolm start a secret fling with a New Year’s Day expiration date.
“Winter Street” by Elin Hilderbrand
A native of Nantucket, Elin Hilderbrand is known for her domestic fiction novels set on the island. “Winter Street” is no different. Father of four Kelley Quinn is the owner of the Winter Street Inn. His children have their own ventures and extracurriculars: Patrick makes his fortune as hedge fund manager, bartender Kevin is having an affair with a French housekeeper, teacher Ava is struggling to take the next step with her boyfriend, and Bart has joined the Marines. When all of the Quinns reunite under one roof, it takes only a spark to set their holiday plans aflame.
Isa Luzarraga is a writer studying journalism at Emerson College. You can follow her on Twitter @IsaLuzarraga.