For December, Forget Wrapping Presents And Treat Yourself To These 3 Romances Escape from the holiday whirl with three tasty romances, featuring a duke with an epic library, a young girl finding herself in the big city and a proper lady finding love where she least expects it.
NPR logo For December, Forget Wrapping Presents And Treat Yourself To These 3 Romances

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For December, Forget Wrapping Presents And Treat Yourself To These 3 Romances

If you need an escape from the holiday whirlwind, these three romance novels — featuring a duke with an epic library, a young girl finding herself in the big city and a proper lady finding love where she least expects it — won't disappoint. Forget the shopping and holiday prep and treat yourself to these happily-ever-afters.

Those who prefer their historical romances to sound and feel historical will savor No Other Duke Will Do by Grace Burrows. Julian St. David, Duke of Haverford, is up to his eyeballs in debt, thanks to ancestors who spent the family fortune acquiring a library of 30,000 books. He ought to wed an heiress, and his sister requires a match as well, so they host a house party at their castle in Wales. As one does. It is here that he meets Elizabeth Windham — a kind, intelligent, passionate and managing woman a bit too long on the shelf. She is the duchess he needs and the duchess he wants, but barriers to their match seem insurmountable — namely, his integrity and stubborn refusal to let her pay his debts to a nefarious neighbor (who Elizabeth fabulously and politely puts in his place); he believes she can do better than a penniless husband. While Elizabeth and the duke realize their love and passion for each other relatively early in the house party — and thoroughly enjoy their time together — you wonder just what sacrifices they'll have to make in order to live happily ever after (and also what fate will befall those 30,000 books!).

A marriage of convenience is one of the classic tropes of Regency romance, but in Roomies, by the duo who write as Christina Lauren, this familiar plot is set in modern-day Manhattan. 25-year-old Holland Bakker has a major crush a hot subway busker, a Juilliard-trained guitar player named Calvin. When her uncle, the composer for Broadway's hottest show, desperately needs a new lead musician, she knows just the guy. One problem — Calvin is Irish, in the country illegally and can't do the gig. Holland's brilliant idea: Fake marriage! She'll get to save the show for her favorite uncle and get Calvin the gig of a lifetime, all while admiring her hunky crush wandering around shirtless in her apartment. They hit it off and start really falling for each other — or is it just an act for the authorities? While I was annoyed that the heroine only seemed to have marriage to offer the plot, the great writing and well-turned plot twists kept me hooked. This contemporary romance doesn't disappoint: Holland's journey ultimately isn't so much about getting the guy, but becoming an interesting, independent and lovable person she can love (and Calvin, too, of course).

For a short and sexy Regency romance, look no further than Nicola Davidson's My Lady's Lover. Beatrice Irving is devoted to two things: her friends at the Surrey Sexual Freedom Society and Amelia Garrick, her employer. Amelia is trapped in a terrible marriage but unexpectedly finds the tenderness and passion she craves with Beatrice. The stakes are high for these two heroines in furthering their relationship — Amelia risks abandonment, Beatrice risks unemployment, and they could both become outcasts — but their love is worth the risk. There is also quite the plot twist that allows them to find their (historically plausible) happy ending. My Lady's Lover is a quick read — but also the perfect starter novella for readers interested trying a gay historical romance. Because 'tis always the season for love and happily-ever-after for all.