Imagine there was a Santa of Romance. He’ll need more time for preparation than Santa Claus, so his gifts probably won’t be in this year’s stockings. But you might stumble across them on a review site in May, on a bookstore’s shelves in August, or perhaps on a friend’s blog in November. Imagine he and his elves (those that have ink-stained fingers) would do their best to fulfill your wishes…. Here are some of the AAR staff’s wishes for the Santa of Romance.

Dear Santa of Romance,
Could I please have some heroes that break the mold? Short heroes, blond heroes, heroes with a profession, chubby heroes, non-aristocratic heroes, less-than-rich heroes — any of these would be deeply appreciated. A combination of the above would even be better!


Not that there’s anything wrong with Regency England, I like it very much, but Edwardian England was an interesting and glittering time too. How about setting some more romances in Newport in the Gilded Age, or even pre-revolutionary Russia? How about the court at Versailles, or the Habsburg empire?

Could you please arrange to have some romances — contemporary romances with not a trace of suspense — set in some different parts of the world? I’d love to see a romance set on Santorini or Crete. And how about one set on Malta? What about Berlin or Amsterdam? Oh, and Mexico City might be nice as well. But please, Santa of Romance, in addition to no suspense, could these books also include no billionaires, no secret babies, and no sheiks?


Could you make it so that Susan Johnson would wake up one morning and say, “My goodness it’s been many years since I wrote a book with footnotes! I shall return to the thrilling days of yesteryear and write a gorgeous, long, wonderful romance featuring really adult characters and lots and lots of footnotes!” It would also be nice if somehow you could make it possible for Judith Ivory to write again.


Could you please give current romance authors amnesia regarding Regency England and make them forget it existed for a couple of years? Instead give them an inexplicable urge to write books set in Eastern Europe and Russia. Also, could you convince publishers that the earlier 20th century would be a great time period to promote?

Santa, I’ve been pining for a good Alpha Jerk hero, à la Sebastian Verlaine, for so long. Would you grant my Christmas wish?

Finally, and I don’t mean to be greedy or overtax your powers, but if you can’t make the Curtises write Cat’s story, could you direct their muse to some other deserving and talented author? This character deserves to be set free this Christmas, to live and have his own adventure.

Thank you so much,

Could you please ask authors to be more creative and think of better plots instead of relying on pages and pages of lovemaking — tell them to get back to the story!
Could certain authors (not naming names, but you know who you are) think back to the type of books that made you famous and write something similar instead of the books you have been producing for years that have taken you off so many readers’ auto-buy lists?


I’ve missed beloved authors who have seemed to disappear or who I no longer recognize. Could you please return, in their original form, Penelope Williamson, Laura Leone, Josie Litton, Gaelen Foley, Patricia Gaffney, and Judith McNaught?

And Santa, you must know how much my heart delights in a meaty, character driven contemporary romance (without a bit of suspense) such as Remember The Time by Annette Reynolds. Can you convince more romance authors to take the challenge of writing in-depth characters in realistic settings wherein the leads have a lot of interaction?

And those European historicals — can I have a few more that feature no dukes, viscounts, earls, lords, or barons and give me more like Jack Devlin from Lisa Kleypas’s Suddenly You? Or how about an even earlier time with hard working heroes such as Rhys from Madeline Hunter’s By Design?


Could you please bring me romances that feature heroines who aren’t saintly, but smart and likable and heroes who are dark, yet truly heroic? I would like characters with depth, situations that are realistic, and strong romantic tension.
I don’t want to be too greedy, but I would also like to see a variety of settings – Medieval England or France, Colonial America, Egypt, late 19th and early 20th century anywhere. And like Rachel, I wouldn’t mind an alpha jerk or two.

Thank you Santa,

I have been so good this year, and weren’t the cookies I made for you delicious? So I have just a few small favors to ask.
Can your elves abandon the fifty million paranormal shapeshifting vampire werewolf stories they are working on? Can they just bag any story with back cover copy that starts: “They were called…THE OTHERS”?

Also, small towns, their sheriffs, and the heroine who made it big but now must return have had a great run. Let’s give them a rest and give us more romances in the city.
Please also fill my stocking with good, juicy American Historical romances. Colonial. Revolutionary. Civil War. I have visions of wagon trains dancing in my head.

And one final request: I don’t give a &%$# if heroes say “Jesus,” but for the love of all that is holy, please don’t have anyone ever spell it “Jeezus” or “Jaysus” ever, ever again.


I’d really like some sweeping historicals that intelligently combine adventure, intrigue, and romance, in the vein of the Outlander series. Some likeable heroines would also be nice. And if you could somehow produce a couple of great paranormal authors, I’d be most appreciative. Actually, I’m not picky about genre as long as a book is really well-written, so if you could just gift a few lucky authors with a nice dose of intelligence, I’d be quite happy.

Wishing you a safe flight,

I would love to see some historical settings besides Regency and Victorian England. I would especially like to see Russia, continental Europe, colonial America, Australia, South America — there is a whole wide world out there. And does everything have to be a series? I would love to read more stand-alone books – especially paranormals. Also, could you make the titles and covers a little less ridiculous? I’d love to be able to buy books in an actual store without worrying about running into my clients!


What’s your letter to the Santa of Romance?

-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.