Dec 22 2014 2:00pm

Good Things Come in Small Packages: 2014 Christmas Novellas from Shalvis, Burton, and More!

Merry Christmas, Baby by Jill ShalvisWith just days until Christmas, it can be difficult to find the time we might wish for to devote to our favorite pastime. Thankfully, this holiday season has seen an influx of festive short stories, perfect for the reader strapped for time but looking for spirit. And with this group of holiday novellas—from returns to fan favorite series and stories we've been waiting for to sexy historicals set in more obscure eras to an m/m/m menage paranormal—there's a little something for everybody.

First up is a gift to all long-time fans of Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor series, Merry Christmas, Baby, a return glimpse into the lives of Sawyer and Chloe, and a short but sweet, multi-layered look at an unexpected pregnancy for a happily married couple. Chloe's pregnancy brain and neuroses and Sawyer's quiet but steady commitment make for a fun, heartwarming cap to their story, complete with a Christmas surprise. 

There's something about historicals and Christmas stories that go especially well hand in hand. With Her Christmas Earl, Anna Campbell weaves a unique story about a rake and a maiden caught in that compromising-position-of-doom, but it's an unusual one. It's once the hero and heroine really begin getting to know one another, along with a delicious look at their spicy life once the marriage-of-convenience vows are taken, where this story really begins to shine.

“Aren't we going to bed?”

He laughed. “What a hussy I married.”

She blushed. Twelve months of dedicated carnal education hadn't cured her of the habit. “You don't seem to mind.”

Even in the early months of dazzling sensual discovery, she'd been sensible enough to wonder whether his interest would wane once her novelty faded. But he'd never shown any restlessness. At first that had astonished her. But eventually she'd come to accept that she'd captured that rarest of beasts, the reformed rake. And the rake showed every sign of being content in his captivity.

“It's Christmas Eve. Time for good little boys to get what they've asked for.”

Three the Hard Way marks a long-awaited return to Sydney Croft's (aka Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler) ACRO series, with one big difference: it's a m/m/m menage. The focus here is on the relationship between three men, with varying degrees of messy pasts and emotion between them, as well as a healthy dose of mistrust. They themselves are unsure who's the good guy and who's the bad, but they come together in the isolated Alaskan wilderness, inhibited by a massive snow storm and awaiting an ACRO vs. Itor organization stand-off, and none of them very eager to celebrate Christmas. It's more the anatomy of a relationship than a romantic suspense exposition, but with such complicated history, it's easy to see why. And hopefully it's the launching pad to a whole new saga of ACRO stories and the special operatives we love so much. 

An Heiress for All Seasons by Sophie JordanSophie Jordan began her Debutante Files series this year with a stepbrother/stepsister historical romance. Now she follows up with a holiday novella, An Heiress for All Seasons, about an American heiress, a brooding earl, and meddling mothers determined to make a marriage before the end of the Christmas season, notable for its old-school historical romance feel. Grand emotions, memorable characters, and a snowed-in cottage ravishment all lend to this lush quality, and it's filled with plenty of delightful Christmas detail to brighten the proceedings. This is the perfect Christmas story about a couple who have to work for their marriage, which makes it all the more worth it. 

For the contemporary romance sports fans, Jaci Burton brings us Holiday on Ice, which is exciting for the fact that the alluded-to-but-never-seen fling between Trick and Stella from Melting the Ice gets center stage here. Their hook-up earlier in the Play-by-Play series was never supposed to be anything more than temporary and casual, and Stella isn't much of a believer in love. Perfect then that Trick is determined to show her differently at Christmas time. It's a great addition to the series and a real present to get the story of a couple that made us take notice and demanded their own story and happy ending.

“I saw it and thought of you and thought she'd be perfect for the tree.”

Her heart was crumbling at his feet. Goddamn him for doing this to her, for making her feel things she hadn't wanted to feel for a man. Not ever again.

Hell, she'd never felt this way about any man before.

She lifted her gaze to his. “It's beautiful. Thank you for thinking of me.”

“You're welcome. Now, that wasn't too painful, was it?”

He had no idea. “I guess not. Are you sure your friends won't make fun of you when they see it?”

He laughed. “They probably will, but I think I can take the heat.”

She stared up at the dancing angel again. “I love her.”

He wasn't looking at the angel, but at her. “So do I.”

And for a collection of Christmas novellas, Wanton Christmas Wishes is an anthology of erotic historical romances by the top names in the exclusive genre, and what makes it really memorable is the way in which every manner of relationship and elusive historical period is covered here, from a mature hero and heroine who receive a long-awaited Christmas reunion to estranged spouses finding their way back together again during the warmth of the season, a duke's mistress longing to become wife to m/m/f menages of male lovers looking for their perfect female partner. Samantha Kane offers a story set on the Russian battlefield of the Crimean War, while Kate Pearce's story brings together a handicapped soldier from the peninsular wars and a bold courtesan. There's scandal and romance and everything in between, and this is for the historical romance reader looking for something more exotic in their holiday fare. 

What short holiday stories are you reading? 


Learn more about the books mentioned in this post:

Merry Christmas, Baby by Jill Shalvis  
Her Christmas Earl by Anna Campbell  
Three the Hard Way by Sydney Croft  
An Heiress for All Seasons by Sophie Jordan  
Holiday on Ice by Jaci Burton  
Wanton Christmas Wishes Anthology  







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.

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