Are you looking for a bit of romance this holiday season? Maybe locked rooms and murder is more your thing? Whether that meet-cute story or a family event at a manor going deadly wrong, here are some compelling holiday stories that will get your blood boiling and tingles up and down your spine. Get your favorite winter drink and reading chair…here are a few romances and mysteries you want to snuggle up with!
A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli
One type-A data analyst discovers her free-spirited side on an impulsive journey from bustling Mumbai to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and finds love waiting for her on Christmas morning.
Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She’s always stuck close to home, in case her family needed her. And she’s always dated guys that seem good on paper, rather than the ones who give her butterflies. When she’s laid off, Niki realizes that practical hasn’t exactly paid off for her. So for the first time ever, she throws caution to the wind and books a last-minute flight for her friend Diya’s wedding.
Niki arrives in India just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, where she meets London musician Sameer Mukherji. Maybe it’s the splendor of Mumbai or the magic of the holiday season, but Niki is immediately drawn to Sam. At the wedding, the champagne flows and their flirtatious banter makes it clear that the attraction is mutual.
When Niki and Sam join Diya, her husband and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper. Free-spirited Sam helps Niki get in touch with her passionate and creative side, and with her Indian roots. When she gets a new job offer back home, Niki must decide what she wants out of the next chapter of her life–to cling to the straight and narrow like always, or to take a leap of faith and live the kind of bold life the old Niki never would have dreamed of. (Credit: Berkley Books)
Love In Winter Wonderland by Abiola Bello
Trey Anderson is popular and handsome, and he works at his family’s beloved Black-owned bookshop, Wonderland. Ariel Spencer is quirky, creative, and in need of a holiday temp job to cover her tuition for The Artists’ Studio. An opening at Wonderland is the answer . . . and the start of a hate-to-love journey for Trey and Ariel. When Trey and Ariel learn that Wonderland is on the brink of shutting down, can they get over their differences and team up to stop the doors from closing before the Christmas Eve deadline ? (Credit: Simon & Schuster UK)
The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.
But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy–Jacob Greenberg.
Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah–and Jacob–in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze. (Credit: Mira Books)
Season of Love by Helena Greer
Thanks to her thriving art career, Miriam Blum finally has her decoupaged glitter ducks in a row–until devastating news forces her to a very unwanted family reunion. Her beloved great-aunt Cass has passed and left Miriam part-owner of Carrigan’s, her (ironically) Jewish-run Christmas tree farm.
But Miriam’s plans to sit shiva, avoid her parents, then put Carrigan’s in her rearview mirror are spoiled when she learns the business is at risk of going under. To have any chance at turning things around, she’ll need to work with the farm’s grumpy manager–as long as the attraction sparking between them doesn’t set all their trees on fire first.
Noelle Northwood wants Miriam Blum gone–even if her ingenious ideas and sensitive soul keep showing Noelle there’s more to Cass’s niece than meets the eye. But saving Carrigan’s requires trust, love, and risking it all–for the chance to make their wildest dreams come true. (Credit: Forever)
The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo
Lila Santos is ready for her last winter break of high school. The snow in her small town of Holly, New York, is plentiful, the mood is as cozy as a fuzzy Christmas sweater, and she’s earning extra cash working at the local inn–AKA the setting of the greatest film of all time, Holiday by the Lake–while moonlighting as an anonymous book blogger.
But her perfect holiday plans crash to a halt when her boss’s frustratingly cute nephew, Teddy Rivera, becomes her coworker. Lila is type A; Teddy is type “Anything but Lila’s Way,” and the two of them can’t stop butting heads over tangled icicle lights and messy gift shop merch. But when they accidentally switch phones one afternoon, they realize they’ve both been hiding things from each other. Will their secrets–and an unexpected snowstorm–bring these rivals together? (Credit: Underlined)
The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls
Vivid and achingly real, Sally Nicholls’s latest historical romance explores the fallout from an unexpected pregnancy during the First World War. It’s Christmastime, 1919. Three years before, seventeen-year-old Margot Allan, a respectable vicar’s daughter, fell passionately in love. But she lost her fiancé, Harry, to the Great War. In turn, she gained a desperate secret, one with the power to ruin her life and her family’s reputation, a secret she guards at all costs. Now Margot’s family is gathering at the vicarage for the first time since the War ended. And Harry, it turns out, isn’t dead. He’s alive and well, and looking for answers. Can their love survive the truth? Based on the author’s family history, this evocative and stirring exploration of the human and emotional side of war is young-adult historical fiction at its finest, written with the immediacy and understanding of the complexities of the human heart that are the hallmark of the author’s work. (Credit: Walker Books US)
Mystery & Thrillers
The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict
The annual Christmas Game is afoot at Endgame House, the Armitages’ grand family home. This year’s prize is to die for–deeds to the house itself–but Lily Armitage has no intention of returning. She hasn’t been back to Endgame since her mother died, twenty-one years ago, and she has no intention of claiming the house that haunts her dreams.
Until, that is, she receives a letter from her aunt promising that the game’s riddles will give her the keys not only to Endgame, but to its darkest secrets, including the identity of her mother’s murderer.
Now, Lily must compete with her estranged cousins for the twelve days of Christmas. The snow is thick, the phone lines are down, and no one is getting in or out. Lily will have to keep her wits about her, because not everyone is playing fair, and there’s no telling how many will die before the winner is declared. (Credit Poisoned Pen Press)
The White Priory Murders: A Mystery For Christmas by Carter Dickson
James Bennett has been invited to stay at White Priory for Christmas among the retinue of the glamorous Hollywood actress Marcia Tait. Her producer, her lover, the playwright for her next hit and her agent are all here, soon to become so many suspects when Tait is found murdered on a cold December morning in the lakeside pavilion. Only the footprints of her discoverer disturb the snow which fell overnight – and which stopped just shortly after Marcia was last seen alive. How did the murderer get in and out of the pavilion without leaving a trace?
When Bennett’s uncle, the cantankerous amateur sleuth Sir Henry Merrivale arrives from London to make sense of this impossible crime, the reader is treated to a feast of the author’s trademark twists, beguiling false answers and one of the most ingenious solutions in the history of the mystery genre. When Henry Merrivale arrives to piece together what appears to be an impossible crime, Carr treats the reader to sensational twists, febrile tension between the closed circle of suspects and one of the most perfect solutions in the history of the genre. (Credit: British Library Publishing)
The Family Game by Catherine Steadman
1. Listen carefully
2. Do your research
3. Trust no one
4. Run for your life
Harriet Reed, a novelist on the brink of literary stardom, is newly engaged to Edward Holbeck, the heir of an extremely powerful family. And even though Edward has long tried to severe ties with them, news of the couple’s marital bliss has the Holbecks inching back into their lives.As Harriet is drawn into their lavish world, the family seems perfectly welcoming. So when Edward’s father, Robert, hands Harriet a tape of a book he’s been working on, she is desperate to listen.But as she presses play, it’s clear that this isn’t just a novel. It’s a confession.A confession to a grisly crime. A murder. And, suddenly, the game is in motion.Feeling isolated and confused, Harriet must work out if this is part of a plan to test her loyalty. Or something far darker. What is it that Robert sees in her? Why give her the power to destroy everything?This might be a game to the Holbeck family–but losing might still prove deadly.
READY OR NOT, HERE THEY COME . . . (Credit Ballantine Books)
Murder On The Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict
Eighteen passengers. Seven stops. One killer.
In the early hours of Christmas Eve, the sleeper train to the Highlands is derailed, along with the festive plans of its travellers. With the train stuck in snow in the middle of nowhere, a killer stalks its carriages, picking off passengers one by one. Those who sleep on the sleeper train may never wake again.
Can former Met detective Roz Parker find the killer before they kill again?
All aboard for . . . Murder on the Christmas Express (Credit: Simon & Schuster UK)
A Murder at Balmoral by Chris McGeorge
The king is dead. The killer is in the family. Solving this murder will be a royal pain.
The royal family has gathered at their Scottish retreat, Balmoral Castle, for a traditional Christmas. As a blizzard gathers outside and a delicious dinner is prepared, the family circles up for a holiday toast. King Eric has something momentous to say–in fact, he is about to name his successor. But as he raises a glass of his favorite whiskey, he drops dead.
The king has been poisoned, someone in the family must have done it, and each one of them had opportunity and motive. Eric’s beloved head chef, Jonathan, must now play detective. Why would one of the king’s own family members want to kill him, and how did they do it? What happens in the castle usually stays in the castle, but this secret might be too big for these battlements. Jon is determined to expose the truth, even if it puts him in a killer’s crosshairs–and shakes the entire monarchy to its core. (Credit:
G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries edited by Otto Penzler
This collection touches on all aspects of the holiday season, and all types of mysteries. They are suspenseful, funny, frightening, and poignant.
Included are puzzles by Mary Higgins Clark, Isaac Asimov, and Ngaio Marsh; uncanny tales in the tradition of A Christmas Carol by Peter Lovesey and Max Allan Collins; O. Henry-like stories by Stanley Ellin and Joseph Shearing, stories by pulp icons John D. MacDonald and Damon Runyon; comic gems from Donald E. Westlake and John Mortimer; and many, many more. Almost any kind of mystery you’re in the mood for–suspense, pure detection, humor, cozy, private eye, or police procedural–can be found in these pages. (Credit: Vintage Crime)
And If You Are Looking For Something With Less Romance And Murder…
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter–who is usually off saving the world–will be joining them at Weyfield Hall. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. She’s just returned from treating an epidemic abroad and has been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity, and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of first-world problems.
As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive….(Credit: Berkley Books)
Gifts by Laura Barnett
Maddy runs the bookshop on Market Square. She’s struggling to choose a gift (a watch? a wine subscription? a weekend bag? all too much?) for her old school friend Peter, who’s just moved back from London following a messy divorce.
Peter doesn’t have a clue what to get for his teenage daughter Chloe – furious with her mother, she’s decided to up sticks and move to Kent with him, but he worries that he really doesn’t know her at all.
Chloe wants to buy something special for her grandmother Irene, who lives alone on the other side of town. Irene doesn’t get out much these days, but she’d really like to find the right gift for Alina, who’s so much more than a carer, really – always stops to chat for a bit, have a cup of tea, even if it makes her late. And Alina, meanwhile, has her eye on something for… (Credit: Orion Publishing)
Midnight in Everwood by M. A. Kuzniar
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.
After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever. (Credit: HQ)