You could say I've been in the Christmas spirit as far as my spicy romance reading goes since California Dreams Christmas Romance Collection released in October. 📚🎄 Below you'll find brief reviews – mostly festive and naughty Christmas romance books and novellas but not only. (Reviews also shared on BookBub.)
Here's the legend:
🌶 = steamy
👵🏼 = later-in-life / seasoned / mature / Gen X / over 40-romance
Nutcracker with Benefits by Liz Alden 🌶🎄
Oh, Nash. I think you might just be my new favoritest book boyfriend. 💕 The opening was very funny and reminded me, in a "this might not going where you assume it is" way, of the opening in This Bird Has Flown. I loved the day Nash arranges, although misunderstood at first – so, so sweet – and the amazing chemistry between him and Clara as they steal some alone (wink) time together. It was fun to get an insider view of travel blogging (from Clara) and of NYC (from Nash). From the book's dedication, the family dynamics, the travel, to Clara's "pitch," I really enjoyed this one and will read more of the author's work.
There is Also A Dog by Kayley Loring 🌶🎄
You know that phrase you see a lot, "laugh out loud funny"? Well, this short novella really is. Good, fast pacing and well-done scenes of steaming up the windows. I loved Mitchell's exchange with his mother and (swoon 💕) Agnes! Fun read. Pairs well with a light dusting of snow and peppermint bark cookies.
Waiting for Christmas by Cynthia Eden 🌶🎄
I’ve been wanting to read Cynthia Eden's work for a while and as soon as I saw this one—love the cover!—I scooped it right up. Forced proximity, brother’s best friend, suspense that was just my speed, i.e. without unrealistic, convoluted twists and without my heart racing uncomfortably fast (a little fast is good). I especially liked how the last scene in the book was written. Touching happy-ever-after and, overall, great writing, steaming-hot chemistry, and a quickly-moving plot that make this a satisfying and spicy "read it now" Christmas romance.
The Naughty List (Santa's Shorts) by Poppy Flynn 🌶🎄
This was such a fun read! The author’s writing style gave it a unique tone that was perfect (perfect!) for a holiday romance set in a Christmas village. I’m excited to read more of Poppy Flynn’s work for this reason alone but there are other reasons also: humor, worldbuilding, the reverse-harem trope, well-crafted super-steamy times, more humor, the characters, the happy ending. This book makes the naughty list look...not so bad. 😉
California Dreams Christmas Romance Collection by Talya Blaine 🌶🎄👵🏼
Am I allowed to add my own short-story collection to the list? Since I don't review my own books, I'll include a few snippets of (much appreciated!🙏) reader reviews, from NetGalley, Goodreads and BookBub:
"I loved that these characters were older"
"feel-good Hallmark worthy shorties"
"Entertaining and fast, and great to while away an hour or two."
"Truly wonderful little vignettes of Christmas stories"
"[a] swexy little book"
"Great steamy holiday later in life anthology."
And now on to any-time-of-year steamy and erotic romances...
Dirty Little Midlife Crisis by Lilian Monroe 🌶👵🏼
My TBR (to be read) pile is about to topple over, and yet this book got me to do something I rarely do: As soon as I finished it, I went back to the beginning and started to read it over again. I was that immersed. Excellent writing. LOL humor. Interesting and imperfect characters over 40. Great worldbuilding around a small California coastal resort town. Well-crafted steamy times and a sexy hero dealing with serious stuff in a (relatively) mature way. (Swoon.) Who also knows how to design and build a cable network design show-worthy kitchen. (Double swoon.)
TBH, if I had known beforehand about two important and unexpected (!) events in the story, I might have wondered, How can an author pull that off without it veering into over-the-top territory? But it would have been a pointless question. The story worked for me. (See above about starting it again because I had such a good time.) I also liked reading the other characters' perspectives. Not typical in romance, but again, it worked well for me. Can’t wait to read the rest of Lilian Monroe’s Heart’s Cove Hotties series, and others – and ogle the gorgeous HCH
menfloral covers—I meant floral covers!
Last but not least...
It Happened One Weekend by collected authors 🌶
LOVE this premise. A wedding, a championship baseball game, and a romance writers conference (!) all take place over one weekend at the same luxury hotel. Upon opening the book, I beelined for "Elevator Pitch" (🌶👵🏼) by L.B. Dunbar because the stuck in an elevator / forced proximity trope is one of my faves. And the smaller the elevator the better, IMO. Hilarious meet-cute. Chaste and sexy (yes, both) story. Can't wait for the full book next year and to continue reading the collection.
🛍️ Still in holiday shopping mode? Visit my Bookshop.org store, where I've compiled a list of some of these and additional Christmas and holiday romances. It's a work in progress; check back for new titles. (As an affiliate, I receive a small percentage of the sale, although you don't pay anything additional.)
Even if don’t order from Bookshop.org, check out my and others’ lists – I find these curated lists, including on the home page, a fabulous way to learn about new-to-me books!
What are you reading right now?
Found any steamy, later-in-life 🌶👵🏼 books you really like? Drop me a note 📝 (using the contact form on the "connect" page or, if you're a newsletter subscriber, that email address ); I'm always looking for recommendations.
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