December is here! The nights are getting longer, the temperature colder, and Hanukkah is fast approaching. Although there are plenty of traditional options to keep folks warm and happy during those eight nights—like candles, songs, and sufganiyot—there’s also the cozy feeling of curling up on the couch to read a good romance book by the light of the shamash.
As part of this year’s celebration, I went looking for some recent contemporary romances featuring Jewish heroes or heroines and was recommended some fabulous new-to-me authors, Emma Barry and Allison Parr. Both authors write modern, Jewish characters whose personal identities and social lives are, in some part, influenced by their faith.
In Barry’s Private Politics (The Easy Part series), the hero, Liam Nussbaum, identifies as culturally Jewish, but in his thoughts, his conversations with his mother, and later on in his relationship with WASP Alyse Philips, his cultural identity is overtly, specifically discussed in the book, and is a part of the characterization and plot as much as many of the other events that happen in the story. Political blogger Liam is a smart-but-schlubby guy whom nonprofit director Alyse hadn’t really considered before an investigation throws them together. The story is very engaging—suspenseful at times but primarily a romance about confidence, goals, and love. It’s the perfect book for holding in one hand to read while the other forks bites of latkes into your mouth.