I don't know about you, but I usually love to get into the whole Christmas spirit by reading a few stories that really inspire me. Last year I read some stories early, before Thanksgiving, and that didn't work for me, so this year I started reading my holiday-themed books after Thanksgiving. So far I've only read four new full romances set during the Christmas season, but I also have favorite reads from the past that I keep on my shelves (or my Kindle) that I love to re-read. (Click on titles to access links to reviews)
Mary Balogh's Christmas stories are my favorite hands down, so it has become a tradition for me to begin the season by reading one of her Regency Christmas romances. This year I read and recommend A Christmas Bride and Christmas Beau. Both are old Signet Regency Christmas romances written in Balogh's signature style. I truly enjoyed both stories. Dell's re-release edition includes both books which is handy since the originals are so hard to find. And from past years I recommend A Christmas Promise, a real favorite.
From last year there are two favorite reads that I'm planning to re-read during the Holidays this year because I loved them! Tis the Season To Be Sinful by Adrienne Basso and the Snowflakes and Stetsons Anthology with Jillian Hart, Carol Finch and Cheryl St. John. Tis the Season to be Sinful is a beautiful historical romance that I loved for its mature protagonists, the passion that I found there, and the gorgeous Christmas theme. And Snowflakes and Stetsons is a sweet western anthology with stories that hit the spot for me and that just happens to be written by three excellent authors.
When it comes to LGBT and M/M Romance, since 2010 it is becoming a tradition for me to re-read His for the Holidays with LB Gregg, Harper Fox, Josh Lanyon and ZA Maxfield. I have my favorite stories from that bunch, but for some reason I read them all last year and will probably read them all this year again. Additionally, I've already bookmarked Christmas Eve at The Powers That Be Cafe by Xavier Axelson. This is an atmospheric, intense and sexy M/M Romance novella that takes place during WWII. I loved this short piece by Axelson and hope to enjoy it again this year.
I also added a new story to my list. This is a FREE read and a holiday gift from the author to her readers. Sandra McDonald, author of the Lambda Award Winner and one of my favorite LGBT books of 2010 Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories, has released a brand new Diana Comet story for the holidays: Diana Comet and the Christmas Quilt. I plan to read and savor this little story as well as Ms. McDonald's flare for storytelling during the holidays. You can read it online here, or download the story from Smashwords.