Winter holiday novels with contemporary romance


Ella Pinkert, Associate News Editor

Whether the winter holiday you most enjoy has passed, is in progress, or is still to come, tis’ the season to read some atmospheric, colorful romances. These are all contemporary, rom-com types of romances, so if you are looking for excellent literature or steamy scenes, look elsewhere. If you are more interested in a fun, fluffy, somewhat funny read that is basically a Hallmark movie, look no further.

“The Matzah Ball” by Jean Meltzer

Rachel, the main character in “The Matzah Ball” and the daughter of a rabbi, loves Christmas. She has a room dedicated to the holiday and writes Christmas romances under a pen name. She does not feel like she can tell anyone for fear of getting ridiculed and disowned. When her publisher asks her to write a Hanukkah romance, Rachel eventually says yes. At the same time, her own love life starts heating up (when an old crush comes into town and throws a ball), and writing a love story no longer seems so difficult.

I, as a part of the Jewish community, thought this book was hilarious. However, and although they were gentle, someone who is less comfortable with stereotypes may not enjoy this book as much. Hebrew terms showed up a lot too, which although they were explained, might take more thought for someone who did not grow up with the tradition. 

In addition to the fantastic comedy, the main love interest was hot, and the plot was interesting which can be hard to find in a rom-com. Lastly, this book was a very quick read. If you have always wanted a Hanukkah Hallmark movie, this may be the book for you.

“A Holly Jolly Diwali” by Sonya Lalli

“A Holly Jolly Diwali” features Niki, who very early in the story gets fired from her job and goes on a date her parents set up for her with Raj, love interest number one. Since she no longer has an obligation to work, it means she could now travel to Mumbai for her best friend’s huge wedding. At the wedding, she meets Sam and ultimately has to decide whether to stay with him or if their relationship is just a fling.

This book could be described as colorful. Not only were the scenes colorful, but the characters were funny and full of, well, character. The big-family energy was fantastic and despite the long list of characters, they were all unique and fun to read about. Again, like The Matzah Ball, it was a fast read. However, the plot was not nearly as interesting, as the conflict did not give me the “must keep reading” energy I was looking for.

I may have gotten tired of the plot, but that did not detract from it being a generally light read, with no taxing conflict or real suspense. Which sometimes, is what one needs.

“The Holiday Swap” by Maggie Knox

Charlie and Cass are twin sisters who bake, and as children, would swap places with each other. So, when Charlie, who judges a cooking show, hits her head and loses her sense of taste and smell, she switches places with Cass, taking over her hometown bakery. Each character has problems at their homes that their sister takes on with varying degrees of success. And they meet hot men. Lots of hot men.

This was the book where I was most disappointed with the lack of steaminess. I was in love with Jake and Miguel, the hot firefighter and doctor, and all I wanted was a sex scene with each. Is that too much to ask?

I was shocked that this was my favorite book out of the three, due to my appreciation of the unique representation the other books held. But this book was the quickest and most engaging read of the bunch. I cannot say that it was suspenseful, but I wanted to keep reading to see what happened, which I can’t say for the other books. “The Holiday Swap” was not cringey, which was also neat because sometimes the “switch” trope can get there.

Overall, this book was so fast and fun, and although I would recommend all of these books to some extent, this was definitely my favorite.

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