There are always popular themes that become evident from year to year--aside, of course, the traditional emphases of the holiday season. Yet there are a plethora of holiday stories, many of which are short stories and novellas which embrace many aspects of romance fiction. Just a couple of these were some fun stories that I came across this year.
Snowbound Holiday is a delightful novella that features a young woman now returning to her childhood home in the shadow of the Laramie Mountains. Her grandfather had died, the grandparent who had thrown her and her mother out as "trash" and who was finally driven from the community by poverty and gossip. Now she has returned to attend the funeral and the reading of the will, not expecting anything but being summoned by her grandfather's attorney. She is immediately greeted by one of her closest childhood friends who meets her at the airport. Together with his brother and their closest friend, they declare that she is their "mate." She has never found anything or anyone to fill up that empty space at the center of her being, an empty space that has always been there and one that kept on telling her that she wasn't loved. Yet these three men, all of them big, burley, gorgeous, are trying to keep her in Wyoming long enough to convince her that she belongs with them. One great big catch: all three are snow leopard shifters.
This is a really nice holiday story--embracing the concepts of restoration and redemption, the renewal of one's humanity, the healing power of love. I give this novella a rating of 3.25 out of 5.
Holiday Fantasy is a very cute novella about an African American woman who is belatedly invited to the Christmas party of a friend. It puzzles Alesha that Kristy is so late in inviting her as she thought they were close friends. Nevertheless, she shows up with her signature holiday cookies only to literally crash into a wall of hard muscle--belonging to a longtime friend of her brothers, a man who has known her since she was a little girl and one who figured prominently in Alesha's teen fantasies. But she was in for another shock: in addition to her brothers' friend Josh, their friend Mike was there also and was, in fact, Josh's business partner and housemate. She also slowly came to realize that this was an informational meeting regarding the BDSM life.
Alesha is a woman who had learned to live with the empty spaces, wondering why her relationship always seemed to go south over time. This story highlights that for some that Dom/sub relationship is very freeing--giving up control can mean that someone you trust implicitly has now taken responsibility for your protection, wellbeing, and protection. Some people really appear to need that. In the context of the holiday season, when the hurts in people's lives so often form a troubling contrast to all the celebration, this story can have meaning for many who have wondered how to fill in those emotional and psychological holes. I give this story a rating of 3 out of 5.