Now is the time of the year to go to my shelves and pick out a book to curl on the sofa with. Not surprisingly, many of my choices for December are holiday romances. I treat them like I do lebkuchen: If I start consuming them too early (like in September, when they appear on the supermarket shelves), I am satiated by mid-November. If, however, I restrain myself until the beginning of December, they enrich Advent and the Christmas holidays enormously.

My favorite Christmas romances, the ones I pick up again and again, tend to come in two disparate groups- comedies, and redemption stories. Either I want lots of frivolous fun, or stories with such depth of despair and bliss that they move me to tears. Go figure.

Of the comedies, many of my favorites are house party stories. They form the perfect backdrop to flirtations, to games and excursions, to little misunderstandings and reconciliations. Nothing too heavy, though!

Winter Wedding by Joan Smith is such a house party romance, in which a young lady – one of those common-sensical Smith heroines – hopes to meet a former suitor and is horrified when he arrives with another woman on his arm. I am also very fond of Mona Gedney’s Frost Fair Fiancé, which, strictly speaking, is not a Christmas but a winter story. This is a delightful comedy of manners about a young girl who can’t make up her mind whom to fall in love with and finally settles on the most unlikely candidate. Among this year’s new publications there is a true find in The Mistletoe Wager by Christine Merrill, a story of almost Noel Cowardesque charm about four people at hair-raising cross-purposes. My absolute favorite frivolous Christmas story is not a romance proper, but a cozy mystery: Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod. If you ever get annoyed with your neighbor’s wildly colorful Christmas decorations or the muzak from some distant loudspeakers filling the winter air, this is the book for you. It also contains a delightful love story.

And tomorrow, I’ll have more Christmas reading for you – this time from the list of redemption stories. So, what are your favorite light holiday reads and why do you like them so?

-Rike Horstmann

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I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.