While I didn’t do a full-on winter holiday romance list for 2018, I thought I might start off 2019 with a New Years Romance recs list. It definitely shows my bias towards contemporary romance, but there is a smattering of romsusp and historical romance too.
I read a bunch of holiday romances to get to this list. Most of these are novella length or shorter, which is one of the things I appreciate most about holiday romances–most are shorter, which is often more accessible for me to read. I am grouping them by theme. Most could belong in more than one category. I link to reviews where I have written them; that’s the place to find trigger warnings.
I’m listing marginalized rep at the end of my descriptions. If you spot something incorrect, please do feel free to let me know. Also, I am not intending to out anyone; I get author info from the web and the book bio. If an author would like me to remove any info listed, please do let me know. I want to note that I use the word fat as a neutral descriptor when listing rep, and use the word queer when a character or author identify that way or when I am unclear about their identity but know they fall under the LGBTQIAP+ umbrella.
For folks looking for romance with no on-the-page sex, I am putting three asterisks*** at the end of the description.
Bringing the Heat
- Forbidden Rendezvous by Mel Blue (contemp m/f romance novella) I read this on New Years Eve and really enjoyed this erotic romance between characters who have a lot of emotional armor and get under each other’s skins as they have what’s intended to be casual anonymous sex, but clearly is anything but. Plus a heroine who works at a sex hotel? How could I resist. (Rep: Black woman author.)
- Ménage à Troys by Holley Trent (contemp m/m/f romance novella) This takes place at the same sex hotel in Forbidden Rendezvous and is a love triangle turned triad erotic romance where a couple in a marriage of convenience try to save that marriage through a threesome but end up in a much more complicated situation. (Black woman heroine. Bisexual men MCs. Black woman author.)
- Ring in the True by Kris Ripper (contemporary m/f romance with trans leads and open polyamory) This is one of many New Years novellas set inside the Scientific Method series, that take a secondary character in the main series and tell a story of New Years at the beach house from their POV (including lots of kink and group sex). It cannot really stand alone. This book centers a trans m/trans f polyamorous couple, and is told from the POV of a trans man, Evan. Overall, I appreciated the trans representation in this story, and found the sex and kink to be realistic and resonant. (Rep: Trans man MC. Trans woman love interest. Queer secondary characters. Genderqueer author.)
- Fireworks by Marian Tee (contemporary m/f romance short story) This was a deeply compelling whirlwind of a childhood crush romance that began with the heroine praying to the gods at temple on Lunar New Year to send her a sign of who could be her first boyfriend and ended with sexytimes with a (not clearly negotiated) D/s edge to them in a car right outside that same temple a few hours later. It caught me a bit off guard but I was along for the ride. (Rep: Filipinx woman author.)
- Broken Resolutions by Olivia Dade (contemporary m/f romance novella) This is my favorite of the Lovestruck Librarians series that I’ve read so far, it’s got fun and heat and hilarious secondary characters.
- Mrs. Gomez’s New Year’s Surprise by Lydia San Andres (historical m/f romance short story) I really liked this romance between a widow who runs a boarding house and one of her boarders. I liked the way he was so gone for her and she was irritated by him at first, and they have some lovely chemistry. (Rep: Latinx older bisexual woman MC. Older man MC. Latinx woman author.)
- Midnight Kiss, New Year Wish by Shirley Jump*** (contemporary m/f romance novel) This is a very classic holiday category small town second chance foodie romance. It really hits the mark for a Hallmark holiday romance movie-like reading experience, with all the beats you might want or expect. Just the kind of comfort read needed on a cold day.
- Dance All Night by Alexis Daria (contemporary m/f romance novella) I loved the premise and set-up for this story, it’s a classic set of tropes, and perfect for a holiday novella. Daria delivers on tropetastic goodness in so many ways, and this story has wonderful pacing, complex nuanced characterization, MCs I fell hard for, and an approach to holiday romance that I really appreciated. (Rep: Immigrant man MC. Black woman MC. Puerto Rican woman author.)
- Tow Trucks and New Years Kisses by Lila Leigh Hunter (contemporary m/m romance novella) Enemies to lovers m/m meet cute when a pansexual CEO covers for his godson on a snowy New Year’s Eve to help a grumpy man needing a tow. (Rep: Older Pansexual MC. Gay LI. Puerto Rican author.)
- Status Update by Annabeth Albert (contemporary m/m romance novel) This holiday romance begins right before Thanksgiving and culminates on New Years. It’s one of my favorite comfort reads on audio, the performances are amazing and it grapples with being closeted in a Christian university setting in a nuanced way. That said, it does have an out for you arc, though it’s one of the few of those that feels complex enough that I like it anyway. Also there are adorable dogs. (Rep: Jewish gay man MC. Gay man MC. Bisexual woman author.)
- A Tale of Two Cities: A New Year Novella by Alexandra Warren (contemporary m/f romance novella) I really enjoyed this! It cracked me up multiple times and delivered serious heat. This was my first read by this author and I definitely will be checking out her backlist. (Rep: Black MCs. Black woman author.)
Relative’s Best Friend
- Red Envelope by Atom Yang (contemporary m/m romance novella) I enjoyed his Lunar New Year romance where the MC had a one night stand with his cousin’s BFF last Lunar New Year and now is meeting him again and has to contend with what that means. (Rep: Queer Chinese American MC. Queer trauma survivor MC. Chinese American man author.)
- Stroke of Midnight by Andie J. Christopher (contemporary m/f romance novel) I enjoyed this very hot brother’s best friend one night stand to fling to lovers romance. The characters are compelling and complex and have amazing chemistry. The light kink in this story is delicious, and I liked how the heroine was extremely competent. (Rep: Latinx woman MC. Latinx woman author.)
- A Midnight Kiss by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner*** (historical m/f romance novella) This sister’s best friend romance was my favorite New Years Eve romance that I read in 2018. Such a satisfying arc, lovely swoony moments and a heroine I completely adored.
- The Year of the Crocodile by Courtney Milan (contemporary m/f romance novella) I really enjoy Blake and Tina in this story, and the family gathering/clashing for Lunar New Year has some of the best dialogue ever. Also, the cake decorating scene is amazing. This is best read after Trade Me, but I think it might work as a standalone. (Rep: Hero with an ED. Chinese American immigrant heroine. Chinese American immigrant secondary characters. Bisexual hapa woman author.)
- One Night in Vegas by CM Stone (contemporary m/f romance novella) This was such a cute childhood crush/brother’s best friend romance! It centers a New Years Eve date, and I enjoyed that aspect of the story.
- Year of the Kiss by Giselle Fox (contemporary f/f romance novella) This reminded me of the lesbian romance and erotica I read in the early-mid 90s, without the level of cissexism, gender binarism and bi antagonism that I often encountered back then. The sex scene leaned towards funny with all the pastry references. The MCs stop in the middle of sex to process their relationship, which I found endearing. There is a stalker/sexual harasser and an evil ex, both of which I could have done without; the book treats these plot elements very lightly, edging towards farce, and keeps its focus on the romance arc and the new life the MC is building for herself in the new year. (Rep: Lesbian MCs. Lesbian author.)
- Hooked by Cathy Yardley (contemporary m/f romance novella) I enjoyed this workplace whirlwind romance about a woman with overprotective controlling family who is learning to trust herself and go after what she wants. This has workplace romance and fake relationship tropes and I thought it was fun and cute. (Rep: Biracial Asian American woman author.)
- Forever Yours This New Year’s Night by L.A. Sartor*** (contemporary m/f romance novel) This feels very much like a classic category holiday romance. Two cybersecurity experts who started off enemies fall hard and fast but can she trust him since divorce ruined her childhood and he had a quickie marriage and divorce? I really enjoyed the geeky cybersecurity aspects, and liked the way the characterization unfolded over time.
- Endings and Beginnings by Celestine Trinidad*** (contemporary m/f romance short story) I enjoyed this hospital-set romance between a doctor and the intern that’s about to transfer to another department after the New Year. It’s a whirlwind of ER duty on New Year’s Eve, with a party going on, and ER duty to manage, and our very competent doctor heroine is really going to miss this one intern…(Rep: Filipino MCs. Filipino woman author.)
- New Year, New We by Katrina Jackson (contemporary polyamorous romance novella) We see Lane, Kierra and Monica doing their best spy work, this time posing as two queer couples with another agent, which becomes a foursome when the job is done! This is one of my most favorite polyamorous romances ever. It made my queer polyamorous heart sing! It great to revisit characters I adored, & this book was so resonant w/my own experience of polyamory, in a way I rarely find in polyamorous romance. (Rep: Bisexual Puerto Rican woman MC. Bisexual Black woman MC. Bisexual Black man MC. Bisexual man MC. Black queer woman author.)