Continuing from yesterday, where I talked about some books I think you’d like if you enjoyed “Rear Admiral,” I’m going to put my bookseller hat back on and make some recommendations the way I used to, and hopefully connect you with some new (or new-to-you) books to check out.
The idea behind these posts is pretty simple. Back in the bookstore days, we’d often set up displays where it was “Hey, you liked this book? Try these books!” I’m not a bookseller any more, and I don’t have a bookstore to put displays up in any more, but I have read some great books this year.
If You Liked Faux Ho Ho…
“Faux Ho Ho” was my second holiday novella, and it’s a fake-relationship queer holiday story. It follows up from “Handmade Holidays,” involves a nerdy gamer geek, a physical trainer, a little lie about dating, and the changes it makes when someone gets to spend time with a queer found family instead of their less-than-great biological family. It also breaks some of the “rules” you often hear bandied about in writerly circles, most specifically “don’t put politics into your romance” which, I mean, as a queer writer how can I not?
Silas Waite doesn’t want his big-C Conservative Alberta family to know he’s barely making rent. They’d see it as yet another sign that he’s not living up to the Waite family potential and muscle in on his life. When Silas unexpectedly needs a new roommate, he ends up with the gregarious (and gorgeous) personal trainer Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou.
Silas’s parents try to brow-beat him into visiting for Thanksgiving, where they’ll put him on display as an example of how they’re so “tolerant,” for Silas’s brother’s political campaign, but Dino pretends to be his boyfriend to get him out of it, citing a prior commitment. The ruse works—until they receive an invitation to Silas’s sister’s last-minute wedding.
Silas loves his sister, Dino wouldn’t mind a chalet Christmas, and together, they could turn a family obligation into something fun. But after nine months of being roommates, then friends, and now “boyfriends,” Silas finds being with Dino way too easy, and being the son that his parents barely tolerate too hard. Something has to give, but luckily, it’s the season for giving—and maybe what Silas has to give is worth the biggest risk of all.
Okay, first up? I’ve got a three-for-one with this suggestion, and although only the first of them is a fake relationship trope like “Faux Ho Ho,” trust me when I say I loved all three of these novellas. All I Want for Christmas has three holiday novellas, including Georgia Beers’s “Triple Dog Dare” (the aforementioned fauxmance story) and it’s got a perfectly paced “we’ll fake it,” falling into “um, I think I like you,” falling into “oh crap, what do we do?” That you also get two fantastic other novellas alongside his fauxmance? Consider that a bonus (and you can check out my reviews of each under this tag).
In Triple Dog Dare by Georgia Beers, Sasha Wolfe has been talking up her new girlfriend to her overbearing mother for months, and when her skeptical sister dares her to invite this new squeeze over for family Christmas, Sasha accepts the challenge. After all, how hard can it be to bring your nonexistent girlfriend home for the holidays.
In Hustle & Bustle by Maggie Cummings, Hannah Monroe is ready to dazzle customers with her pop-up shop at NYC’s winter holiday market. NYPD beat cop Toby Beckett, who just wants to protect and serve, barely notices the spirit of the season until events keep pushing her into Hannah’s path.
In A Christmas Miracle by Fiona Riley, Mira Donahue’s bar, Mirage, is the hottest Christmas party venue in Boston, despite Mira’s secret: she hates Christmas. When self-described Queen of Carols Courtney Rivers books Mirage for her company’s holiday party, she clashes with Mira over the plans. Then a freak storm strands them in the bar, and more than miracles abound.
Oh how I loved Xeni. Okay, this relationship is freaking awesome. Well, it’s not a fake relationship exactly, it’s a fake marriage. Wait. I mean, everyone is in on it: both Xeni and Duncan know this is so beyond the pale, but their sham marriage is the only way to inherit, and even the person they’re inheriting from—who put the stipulation of their marriage in their will—knows they’ve never met. Yet. It’s one way to get what you want, though, right? Not only does this story do friendship groups perfectly (and you should read all the other books it intersects), it also handles so many variances on Family Drama (capitals not accidental) I cannot even begin to tell you. (Oh, and while “Faux Ho Ho” isn’t erotic, I should probably mention this book is, like, five-alarm hot. Like, hottest pegging scene ever, hot.)
She just wanted to claim her inheritance. What she got was a husband…
Xeni Everly-Wilkins has ten days to clean out her recently departed aunt’s massive colonial in Upstate New York. With the feud between her mom and her sisters still raging even in death, she knows this will be no easy task, but when the will is read Xeni quickly discovers the decades old drama between the former R&B singers is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Secrets, lies, and a crap ton of cash spilled on her lawyer’s conference room table all come with terms and conditions. Xeni must marry before she can claim the estate that will set her up for life and her aunt has just the groom in mind. The ruggedly handsome and deliciously thicc Scotsman who showed up at her aunt’s memorial, bagpipes at the ready.
When his dear friend and mentor Sable Everly passed away, Mason McInroy knew she would leave a sizable hole in his heart. He never imagined she’d leave him more than enough money to settle the debt that’s keeping him from returning home to Scotland. He also never imagined that Sable would use her dying breaths to play match-maker, trapping Mason and her beautiful niece in a marriage scheme that comes with more complications than either of them need.
With no choice but to say I do, the unlikely pair try to make the best of a messy situation. They had no plans to actually fall in love.