There's something so well-matched about romance and Christmas—a season all about love and a genre that celebrates it. I like my Christmas romances especially hot, and in a year that seems to be somewhat underpublished in Christmas romances, here are my very favorite erotic contemporary Christmas collections.
For the past three years, Carina Press has been offering Christmas collections of stories grouped by genres. I've enjoyed all of those that I've read, but the one erotic contemporary Christmas anthology I love best is Naughty and Nice. This collection features an all-star line up of authors Shannon Stacey, Jaci Burton, Megan Hart, and Lauren Dane, with Stacey and Burton offering the “Nice” stories and Hart and Dane bringing the “Naughty” ones. Whatever you prefer, sweet or heat, it's here. Burton's story, “All She Wants for Christmas” begins her Kent series with the story of a female country singer who returns to her hometown to rekindle the flame with her first love.
When it comes to Christmas stories, I want nothing left to the imagination, and Hart's and Dane's stories follow up with fan favorite couples from previous works of theirs, so it was perfect for me. Dane's story “Believe” gives a glimpse of Jude and Rory from Second Chances, whose intense BDSM relationship, full of ups and downs, is one of the best, most realistic romances I have ever read. And Hart's return to Brandon and Leah from Taking Care of Business and No Reservations (also a spicy Christmas read) is another delightful look at beyond the happily ever after. Their romance has a slight twist in that Leah is a bit of a female dom, but Brandon is all man.
Unspoken, she'd made rules he had to follow. Brandon bit the inside of his cheek against his grin. He could do that. No problem.
Tick, tock. Press, release. Over and over, Brandon pushed his knuckles against her.
Her lips parted. Just slightly. She didn't say anything, didn't look at him.
It was enough to tell him he was on the right path.
Leah let out a tiny cry when the sleigh started up again, and it sounded like it could've been because she was startled by the sudden jerk. But Brandon knew better. He didn't change the pressure, though, or the pace. They passed by the Santa and on to the next display, but he kept up the same steady tick-tock of his knuckles against her.
The ride was, as the driver had predicted, closer to an hour than forty-five minutes. By the end of it, Leah's eyelashes had begun to flutter in a familiar way and, when she forced herself to focus, her eyes had a certain glaze in them that Brandon loved. She stumbled getting out of the sleigh, and he caught her, but he was pretty sure this time it had nothing to do with her sore ankle.
“Get me home,” she muttered into his ear as he helped her stand upright. “As fast as possible.”
These final two stories from Naughty and Nice will be more fulfilling if you've read Jude and Rory's and Brandon and Leah's back stories, but they are stand-alone reads and offer all the holiday spice you could ever want. I don't re-read very often, but this is the one anthology I come back to again and again.
A great erotic Christmas anthology not to be missed is Red Hot Holidays featuring another round of delicious Christmas cheer. Shelby Reed's story “Holiday Inn” tells a surprisingly emotional, deep story of two strangers, Jesse and Anna, who are fatefully brought together through the magic of Christmas at a time when they need each other more than they ever could have realized. By the time we get to the flash-forward ending, this story has built an incredible amount of heart that will warm the most skeptical of believers.
Lacey Alexander's story “Unwrapped” combines what I've come to love from her books: true, real romance with unbelievable kink. Simon and Emily are in love and committed, but as much as she loves him, Emily struggles with a repressed sexuality from years ago growing up, and she just can't let go. Emily's sexual journey and reformation and Simon's unwavering sexy support make for a deeply romantic story, and they do things with candy canes that you'd never imagine.
Maybe she could be what Simon needed her to be, what she needed her to be. Hell, maybe she could even do it by Christmas if she worked really hard.
And as she got in the car and pulled away, heading home, she had a feeling she knew what to get Simon for Christmas now.
Another Christmas favorite of mine is Holiday Seduction from Jaci Burton and Lauren Dane. Burton's story “Unwrapped” tells the story of an older woman/younger man, boss/employee and features a menage as Amy and Justin learn how to lose their inhibitions and stop fighting what they feel for each other. These are themes and elements I'm usually not fond of in my romance, but this story won me over and offers a glorious Hawaiian setting for a change of the typical Christmas pace.
Dane's story “To Do List,” on the other hand, is one of my favorite themes: brother's best friend/younger sister. Rafe and Belle sizzle from the moment she comes back home for Christmas, and they're finally ready to give in to what they've been fighting for years.
This was so not how she'd envisioned her life would be after the back-breaking universe of law school and then clawing her way up and into a junior partner spot at Hansen, Petelman and Gruber.
Making matters worse, the freaking blowout had happened. She'd sat on the side of the road for ten minutes, finally giving in to tears she'd been saving up for many frustrated months.
No doubt about it, her life was a mess and she hated her job. The real question was what she would do.
“I should have sex with Rafe, that's what I should do.” Instead, she got out of bed and began to make a list.
This is a sexy, lovable story that shows the joy that family and small towns bring at Christmas. And even better, there's a follow-up from both authors returning to their respective worlds in the sequel Holiday Heat, also Christmas- and erotic contemporary-themed.
The Naughty List is a heartwarming anthology with three lovely, yummy stories told with lots of Christmas spirit. The best is “All I Want for Christmas” by Cynthia Eden, which is the story of toymaker Christie and police offer Jonas. He is her brother's best friend; she is the younger sister tired of just being the brainy good girl, and Christmas is the perfect time for them to finally come together. This is a fun story, bolstered by “Naughty but Nice” from Donna Kauffman and “Tattoos and Mistletoe” by Susan Fox.
Finally, I love Wrapped in Seduction from Lisa Renee Jones, Cathryn Fox, and Jodi Lynn Copeland, where they team up to write a connected anthology about three sisters. The three stories flow seamlessly, and each one offers hope and heat and the beauty of love and family at Christmas. My favorite is Copeland's story, “Mistletoe Bliss,” a tale of reunited lovers. Youngest sister Tori wants a stringless fling with a familiar former love and believes she can enter into a lusty, casual affair with Travis, but he wants a lot more and is determined to prove that to her. This story is sizzling and is a high point in a solid erotic contemporary collection that celebrates the love and hope of Christmas.
What heated holiday stories are warming up your December?
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.