A few years ago, I stumbled down the rabbit hole of a Goodreads list devoted to Christmas-themed Chick Lit Novels. I am a sucker for a good romance, and anything British, so I ordered a good four or five novels from The Book Depository to be sent over here to my American doorstep (Many of those novels were not published in paperback here in the US.)
I spent many a magical evening soaking up these whimsical, spirited stories. I especially loved the ones set in small towns or villages. I was going through a pretty rough depression at the time, too, so these comforting reads not only put me in the season but also lifted my mood. They were even better than Love Actually because I could savor them slowly, and there was an almost endless supply. Even after Christmas was over, I kept an eagle eye watching Book Depository for sales on Christmas-themed chick lit and also possible new Christmas chick lit published in 2016.
Now here we are, with December right around the corner, and I’ve got the best of the best holiday chick lit novels for you with buying options in the US and international. I write to you with a cat to the left of me and the Christmas tree illuminating the room. So make yourself a mug of peppermint-flavored hot chocolate, put on “The Nutcracker” soundtrack, and snuggle in by the fire. You’re in for a cozy Christmas with these holiday chick lit romance novels.
(note: this article has updated links, and more titles will be posted over the month!)
“Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop” and “The Christmas Surprise” by Jenny Colgan
(Plus “Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe”)
“Christmas at Rosie Hopkins Sweet Shop” was the first Christmas women’s fiction novel I read, and it totally blew me away. Although this is the second novel in a series, you need not have read the first one to understand what’s going on. The ingredients that make this culinary-themed holiday novel and its sequel, “The Christmas Surprise,” delicious include a plucky, bold, and humble heroine you root for from the beginning; a quirky sweets shop revived to sell old-timey treats and candy; a brooding, handsome, and swoon-worthy local teacher/love interest; a feisty but adorable elderly aunt; recipes galore of things you’d actually want to make; and a secretly enjoyable claustrophobic small village. The Rosie Hopkins series fills you with warmth, but not in a gooey, overly-sentimental way. When I closed the covers of “Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop” I felt a smile spread across my fate. I said, “I’m ready for Christmas now. I’m ready to heal. I’m ready.”
“Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe,” also by Jenny Colgan, is a similarly lovely story about sweet treats like the titular cupcakes. When I read the first novel in this series, “Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe,” I thought, no, cupcakes, really? I thought that fad was over. But, as with Jenny Colgan’s Rosie Hopkins and “Little Beach Street Bakery” series, the story goes beyond a trendy treat and instead pins point exactly what we love about baking and food—the love that goes into it, the way it can save you and lift your mood, the way it helps you feed others with food that makes them feel better, and the way it is connected to something so instinctual that you feel connected to our earliest mothers to our future sisters…okay I’m getting too abstract now, ha ha. Anyway, add in a dash of romance, a heroine (Issy) who you truly see yourself in, and near-cinematic descriptions of London that make you feel like you’re there, and you’ve got a winning series. “Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe” just takes the warmth and ups it a notch with its holiday theme. I love it because I love hearing about London in Christmas, and I also admire how Issy is self-reliant on so many levels.
Now, Colgan has released another Christmas romance. Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery. For those of us who cannot get enough of Jenny Colgan, this is a gift, one to set you in the Christmas mood.
How to Order…
Many of Jenny Colgan’s novels are now (finally) being released in paperback in the United States. Find some of the first stories in this series on Amazon, like “Sweetshop of Dreams,” the first Rosie Hopkins novel here
“Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop” is available for US readers via ebook on Amazon
“The Christmas Surprise” is available for US readers in via ebook on Amazon
“Christmas at Thornton Hall” by Lynn Marie Hulsman
Have you had enough food-themed festive fiction for 2016? Well if not, here’s one more must-have to add to your list. “Christmas at Thornton Hall” by Lynn Marie Hulsman is the place to start for readers on both sides of the pond. Fresh off the heels of finding a stranger’s rhinestone-studded thong at the flat of her slick and successful lawyer boyfriend, Juliet knows she needs to go elsewhere. How perfect it is that the Thornton Hall estate is seeks her chef services just three days before Christmas. An American, Juliet will have to stake her own claim among the British servants in the Earl of Gloucester’s estate. She throws herself into whipping up the best food ever, and maybe have conjured up some love for herself.
If you’re thinking Downton Abbey upstairs-downstairs dynamics but set in a modern-day holiday setting, you’ve caught on. And oh how delicious this book is for holiday readers. Given that Downton Abbey is about to head into its final season, this is perfect for coping with Downton withdrawal for Christmases to come.
How to Order…
“Christmas at Thornton Hall” is available for US readers via ebook on Amazon
“The Great Christmas Knit-Off” by Alexandra Brown
Even if you’re not a knitter, you will be amazed at the way “The Great Christmas Knit-Off” by Alexandra Brown hooks you in early with a story about recently jilted at the altar Sybil and how her knitting obsession rescues her spirit at Christmas. When I say this story is cozy I don’t mean in the cozy mystery sense where everything seems so tame and gentle. I mean it’s cozy like sitting in front of the fireplace with a warm blanket draped over you, possibly a glass of wine or your grandma’s favorite tea in a mug nearby. The fire pops and cackles, sparks flying just beyond your realm of vision as you read this festive story about how Sybil seeks refuge in the quaint village of Tinsdale.
Among the most eccentric villagers she meets is feisty and fabulous octogenarian Hettie, owner of Hettie’s House of Haberdashery. Hettie is overwhelmed by the store, struggling to meet the bills and under threat of closure. Is Sybil too hardened and stiff after she got dumped that she cannot even find it in her to help Hettie? Can she help sprinkle some magic in those tired window displays, maybe introduce some modern thinking? And will she find someone who can stitch her broken heart and make her stomach tie in knots? As the nights get colder and Christmas draws ever closer, you’re welcome on the delightful treat that is this comforting Christmas novel.
How to Order…
“A Christmas Cracker” by Trisha Ashley
“A Christmas Cracker” is a big, epic Christmas themed chick lit novel you can really sink your teeth into over a few days, much like lingering over a candy cane, making it last as long as possible. You’ll want to spend more time in the company of Tabby, a young woman who took the fall for a crime and is just now getting out of jail, and Randal, the journalist who was partially responsible for sending her to jail…but now feels imprisoned by attraction to her. Randal’s grandmother is the lovable Mercy, owner of a Christmas cracker factory desperately in need of some TLC.
Tabby ends up helping out Mercy in her Christmas cracker factory, which sends her into frequent contact with the aloof-interested-yet-feeling-guilty Randal. It’s clear that they’re meant to be together, but how can they resolve their issues and start a romance given their past? Is the magical festive feel of the holiday season going to send them colliding into each other, and will they find true love as the soft snow falls on the picturesque village? Find out! Trisha Ashley is a prolific author of women’s fiction so once you’ve read this one you’ll be happy to know there’s a bevvy of treats to choose from all the year round.
How to Order…
“The Winter Wedding” by Abby Clements
Hazel sort of fell into wedding planning when her sister Lila asked her to step in and save the day for her special day when her wedding planner bailed. Now, though, everyone’s getting married, and Hazel is bombarded with work. Meanwhile, who can ever be around a wedding much less two or more without being reminded of one’s own romantic failures and disappointments. Well, this holiday season follow along with Hazel as she plans the happily ever after to several brides’ storybook weddings—and maybe gets one of her own.
“The Winter Wedding” is another warm and fuzzy story that feels like sitting in the fire and warming up after being out in the snowy, bitter cold. I also like that this story features the sibling dynamic. I am close to my brother and we do a lot of Christmas-y things together, like making Christmas cookies and trying to out-do each other with Christmas presents. I think, when it comes down to it, Christmas and the holiday season are both about family, whether it’s a friend family, a family with your partner, your pets, and of course, your home. So “The Winter Wedding” definitely emphasized that for me in a feel-good way.
How to Order…
“Christmas at Lilac Cottage” and “Snowflakes on Silver Cove” by Holly Martin
This is another adorable chick lit romance series you can just devour in a single sitting. “Christmas at Lilac Cottage,” the first book in the series, focuses on Penny Meadows, a brilliant professional ice carver (no, really) looking to rent the annex of her cozy cottage this holiday season. Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive and while Daisy is open and friendly, eager to make Penny’s acquaintance, Henry is more reserved. Penny realizes Henry is holding a lot back, and she strives to make him trust her. In so doing, she feels a strong attraction to this man, as he does to her. The delightful seaside setting of White Cliff Bay paints a lovable backdrop to this Christmas romance.
The second novel in the series, “Snowflakes on Silver Cove,” is also set in seaside White Cliff Bay, is a classic romantic comedy…featuring a romance novel author, Libby Joseph. Even though Libby writes deliciously divine romance, she is having a lot of trouble in that department. Her best friend and neighbor George is also struggling to date post-divorce. Libby’s having a sort of epic writer’s block with her current novel, so she and George hatch a plan: Through dates with each other, Libby will help George succeed in his dating efforts while he agrees to provide the model she needs for her fiction. Their dates together, struck against the stunning, snowy backdrop of White Cliff, prove that Libby and George’s chemistry may go beyond friendship and into romantic attraction. This novel, which you could read before or after “Christmas at Lilac Cottage,” definitely puts me in the mood for a holiday indulgence.
How to Order…