Cosy nights in by a roaring fire, smooches under the mistletoe — there’s something about this time of year that puts us in the mood for romance.
And while we can’t promise any long-lost lovers will find their way into your stocking on Christmas Day, we can at least recommend some literary companions to snuggle up with on the sofa.
From happy endings to hot Brazilians, here are our top picks of this year’s festive — and fabulously predictable — romance novels.
Under The Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft
Divorcee Laurel returns to the sleepy village where she grew up and bumps into an old flame, Grady. The question is, will they rekindle their romance in time for a Christmas snog?
Of course they will — the man lives in Mistletoe Cottage, for pity’s sake.
However, it’s not all a walk in the snow as they’ve got personal demons to contend with.
Both have struggled with infertility, Laurel has an agoraphobic sister and a bullied niece, and the truth about the assault she suffered as a teenager will send shock waves around Middledip.
Mushiest line: ‘Let’s not waste this mistletoe.’
Verdict: There’s a little bit of bite to this Christmas pud but it’s still nice and gooey.
The Winter Of Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss
Another Christmas book, another divorcee. After catching her husband spreading the festive cheer a little too liberally with one of the waitresses at their restaurant, Annie moves to a sleepy village!
Taking up residency at an old beach house, she throws herself into sleepy village life and even reopens a café.
Sparks begin to fly between her and her elderly landlady’s nephew but the sudden reappearance of her grovelling ex means this seasonal romance is far from smooth sailing.
Mushiest line: ‘Tell me it’s insane but you love me, too.’
Verdict: No tissues necessary but there’s enough spice to heat up a cool winter’s day.
One More Christmas At The Castle by Trisha Ashley
Recent widow (so not quite a divorcee) Sabine hires domestic goddess Dido to help prepare for a splendid last Christmas in her late husband’s ancestral home before she hands it down to one of his many relatives.
Dido promptly bumps into her teenage crush (here we go), who just so happens to be Sabine’s godson.
It all muddles along nicely until his teenage crush also shows up. But that’s the least of their troubles as there are some mysteries to solve.
Mushiest line: ‘Everything would soon be back to the way it was before Christmas except, of course, that nothing would ever be quite the same again!’
Verdict: The regal setting and lots of delicious description make this family affair a real delight. Gobble it up before the big day to get in the festive spirit.
The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
Poor Carmen can’t catch a break. She’s out of a job, living with her parents and just can’t match up to her big sister.
But luckily, that big sister is the charitable sort and lands Carmen the seemingly impossible job of turning around the fortunes of an old bookshop by Christmas.
If she fails, then the elderly owner will be penniless and Carmen will never redeem herself in the eyes of her family. Big odds for a Christmas story, no?
Now throw a sexy Brazilian stranger into the mix and you’re in for a real Christmas cracker.
Mushiest line: ‘Are your lips cold?’
Verdict: A snowy Scottish city, a quaint bookshop, a new baby, sisterly love and a steamy Latin lover. That will keep me going until February!
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