It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Make the most of it with the best modern Christmas romance books to put you in the warmest and most cozy mood this entire holiday season.
I’m generally not much of a romance reader except when it comes to Christmas-themed books because they are all just so heartwarming. I just LOVE these books and think you will too.
For this post, I focused on books that are modern and escapist. There’s nothing old-fashioned, no historical romance and/or overly steamy holiday romance here — just light reads that feel fresh and focus on personal relationships to make you feel both festive and uplifted.
First, if you’re extra curious or in a rush, below is a quick, shoppable list of all the books that made the list.
- All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox
- Always in December by Emily Stone
- The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
- The Christmas Cafe by Eliza Evans
- The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk
- Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday
- Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey
- The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
- The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo
- In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
- Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle
- Let it Snow by Nancy Thayer
- Love, Holly by Emily Stone
- A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes
- Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss
- Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler
- Nantucket White Christmas by Pamela Kelly
- Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert
- One Day in December by Josie Silver
- Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
- The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews
- A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss
- Three Holidays and a Wedding by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley
- The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
- Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
Details on All the Best Christmas Romance Books
Below is a list of the best Christmas romance books with summaries of each of them to help you choose which one is best for you.
All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox
Best for fans of reality competition shows
All I Want for Christmas is a cute, light, romantic comedy about two competitors in a country music reality singing competition during the holiday season. As they fake a romance, one copes with grief, then they are forced to be together during the next holiday season, when their relationship ebbs and flows over time.
It’s a quick, delightful holiday book for adults, with a unique country music twist that felt festive and fun.
Always in December by Emily Stone
Best for fans of tearjerkers
In Always in December, Josie mails a yearly letter to her parents who died on Christmas many years ago, writing: Missing you, always. This year, however, has a bike collision with a handsome man named Max, which changes her tradition and changes her life.
Max is also avoiding Christmas, so they end up spending the holiday together. But, right when Josie thinks this might be the beginning of true love, Max vanishes without a goodbye.
Throughout the next year, though, their paths continue to collide, as Christmas approaches again.
Check this one out if you are in the mood for a tear-jerker.
The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
Best for bookworms
In The Christmas Bookshop, Carmen is laid off from her job at a department store, and she is not looking forward to spending the holidays with her perfect sister, Sofia.
Sofia isn’t enthused to see Carmen either, but at the same time, she is managing her pregnancy, her mother who wishes for a perfect Christmas, and a client who needs his old bookshop revamped. So, Carmen moves in and takes the job at the bookshop.
In this charming old bookshop in historic Edinburgh, Carmen finds herself intrigued, especially when a renowned author shows interest in her.
Check this one out if you are a lover of books!
The Christmas Cafe by Eliza Evans
Best for fans of the celebrity/non-celebrity romance trope
The Christmas Cafe is about as saccharine as it gets — in a good way, if that’s what you like. In the small town of Silver Bells, Wyoming, baker Sylvie works at the Christmas Cafe, where it’s festive all year long.
When she learns the Cafe that’s meant so much to her throughout her life may be sold, she gets the Holiday Channel to film a scene there. The lead actor, Royce, takes an interest in her, which makes her practically melt, yet she also finds herself interested in the wellbeing of her old local friend, Abe, who’s back in town to manage his parents’ goat farm.
Mixed into this light love triangle with a celebrity romance trope are a mischievous dog named crumpet, a sweet family with loving memories, and even a Christmas festival and parade.
It’s a guilty pleasure as sweet as Sylvie’s treats for those looking for a really light small-town escape or a closed-door romance. Think: Gilmore Girls meets Wyoming.
The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk
Best for fans of Groundhog Day-like storylines
In The Christmas Wish, Gwen is a newly single and very unhappy lawyer heading to the country for her family’s Christmas, when she runs into Dev, her old crush, who’s now engaged, and it makes her feel like everyone has his or her life figured out except her.
After a very British comedic holiday, Gwen wakes up to find that she is living Christmas all over again each day thereafter. She’s got to figure out how to escape these repeated Christmases all while Dev continues to shine more each day for her.
This book pleasantly surprised me, as it offered a lot more depth than a standard Christmas romance. It offered a real window into Gwen’s unhappiness in her life and the difficult things she needed to do to change her course. In many ways, it often reminded me of A Christmas Carol but with a love story too.
Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday
Best for fans of royal romances
In Duke, Actually, Maximillian von Hansburg, Baron of Laudon and heir to the Duke of Aquilla, has been dumped by a princess, is unemployed, and has been forced to go to New York to meet a prospective bride. Suffice it to say he’s having a not-so-Merry Christmas.
There, he meets Dani Martinez, a smart, stunning professor he wishes to befriend before their best friends marry at the wedding of the century. Dani is “done” with love, so her friendship with Max takes off. Until the attraction deepens…
I “actually” loved this very “cat and mouse” romance book and recommend it to fans of Love, Actually, royal reads, and/or diverse romances.
Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey
Best for fans of The Unhoneymooners
Faking Christmas is a real delight! It takes the common enemies-to-lovers and fake dating tropes and makes them fresh again, as well as seasonal.
To get the job as a social media manager for an Ohio tourism company, Laurel pretends to be a farmer. All is well, until her boss invites himself to Christmas at the farm.
So, she must pretend her twin sister’s farm is her own, and that her brother-in-law’s groomsman (Laurel’s nemesis) is her husband. Things get even more complicated when they become trapped at the farm by snow. The close proximity just may change her feelings.
This was one of my favorite holiday reads! It kept things light and, while the tropes are familiar, the story still felt very alive and festive. I highly recommend it, especially if you love modern romance writers like Christina Lauren.
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
Best for fans of The Holiday
In The Holiday Swap, chef Charlie loses consciousness on the California set of the reality baking show on which she works, losing her ability to taste and smell. At the same time, her identical twin sister, Cass, is struggling to keep her head above water at their quaint mountain hometown family bakery, where her ex is remorseful.
With Christmas days away, Charlie and Cass switch lives. But, things become a lot more complicated than when they did this as children when two handsome men appear in their lives.
Check this one out if you love the movie The Holiday. I thought it was perfectly light and charming.
The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo
Best for Young Adult readers and fans of White Christmas
In The Holiday Switch, Lila is embarking on her last Winter break of high school in her small New York town by working at the local inn, which happens to be the setting of a renowned holiday film, while also writing an anonymous book blogger.
There, Type A Lila keeps butting heads with the innkeeper’s nephew, Teddy, her new co-worker. But when they accidentally switch phones, they realize they’ve each been hiding things that may bring them together after all.
Check this one out if you love young adult books.
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Best for readers who want a little spice
Instant New York Times bestseller
In a Holidaze is a romantic comedy by bestselling author Christina Lauren that starts after one Christmas in which everything goes wrong for Maelyn at her family’s traditional “Christmas with friends” at a Utah cabin. She leaves wishing for happiness, but then she’s involved in a car crash.
Maelyn then relives her Christmas vacation as if it were Groundhog Day. As Maelyn lives Christmas all over again in her “dazed” state, she attempts to fix everything that went wrong the first time around. And, of course, there’s a love triangle and some steaminess at the heart of this light story about the power of holiday wishes.
Check this one out if you love the movie Groundhog Day.
Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle
Best for fans of Elf
Just Like Magic is an absolute delight that will make fans of the movie Elf feel so giddy and festive. Bettie was once a luxurious social media influencer, but now she’s downright broke, and her family doesn’t know.
Dreading the thought of facing her family this Christmas, she plays a record of “All I Want for Christmas” backward and conjures up Hall, the Holiday Spirit, who also happens to be a handsome and friendly man.
She pretends he’s her fiance, but his quirky charm starts to catch on, and Bettie finds herself truly happy with him. The problem? His time on earth is limited.
This book is whip-smart, laugh-out-loud funny, and incredibly creative. It’s bound to put a smile on your face this holiday season.
Let it Snow by Nancy Thayer
Best for fans of Hallmark movies
The 2021 Christmas Hallmark movie Nantucket Noel
In Let it Snow, Christina is preparing her Nantucket toy shop for the holidays, but when her Scrooge-like landlord, Oscar, raises her rent, it seems she won’t be able to stay in business.
When she bonds with Wink, his young granddaughter, she realizes that maybe he has a heart after all. With the help of Wink’s uncle, a charming bachelor, this may be the best Christmas of all.
Check this one out if you love Hallmark movies. It’s really cute and festive!
Love, Holly by Emily Stone
Best for fans of tearjerkers
Stone has carved out a niche for herself in dramatic, tear-jerking holiday stories, and Love, Holly is no exception to the rule. With content warnings like cancer, deaths, car accidents, abandonment, and infertility, it’s not a feel-good novel, but rather a very real take on grief, found families, and forgiveness around the holidays.
But, if you’re up for it, Love, Holly does deliver a memorable story about two women, one older and one younger, who meet through seemingly anonymous letters about their shared trauma and loneliness, as a result, during the holidays.
These women are more connected than it seems, and they will pull at your heartstrings, as they each seek redemption, and the younger (Holly) also seeks love through a shared connection also coping with grief.
I especially enjoyed the very British feel this one had, and how the couple coped with real-life issues as they navigated their feelings for each other.
A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes
Best for fans of Christmastime in a New York setting
A Magical New York Christmas combines so many great things in one book! Just after Christmas, Sabrina arrives at the famed Plaza Hotel in New York City to ghostwrite the memoir of a famous art dealer. There, he recounts how he used to be a butler for the author of the classic children’s book series, Eloise at the Plaza, decades earlier.
Meanwhile, she also meets Ian, who thinks she is a wealthy guest, so he pretends to be British aristocracy. The question is whether they will uncover the truth about each other in this light holiday romance with a New York twist.
If you love any or all of the above things, I have no idea that this book will melt your heart.
Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss
Best for fans of British fiction
In Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, Nory was a scholarship student back with her prep school friends for a wedding at the castle near their old school just before Christmas.
There, she reunites with Isaac, the gardener, who’s a fan of neither Nory nor her posh friends. But, as their attraction grows, they cope with everything from family drama to grief, class conflict, and uncovering the truth about stolen art.
The aesthetic of this book totally transported me there, and I fell in love with the characters and the setting.
Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler
Best for fans of Alaskan settings
Mistletoe and Mr. Right is the second in a great Alaska romance series. Unlike Moose Springs, Alaska, where Lana Montgomery lives, she’s a rich socialite. Determined to show she belongs, she tracks the town’s Christmas mystery of the Santa Moose, who is destroying every bit of holiday cheer he can sink its teeth into.
When Lana accidentally tranquilizes Rick, down on his luck, and back in town, it may be her chance to finally catch his eye.
Check this one out if you love Alaskan settings.
Nantucket White Christmas by Pamela Kelly
Best for fans of a Nantucket setting
After an unlucky woman inherits a Nantucket estate, she spends a delightful “White Christmas” there in her quest to make it a home, befriending the locals and exploring the exclusive island alongside a handsome man.
Check this one out if you love a Nantucket setting.
Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert
Best for fans of magical realism
When I heard Once Upon a December was about magical realism at a holiday market, I thought, “Sign me up!” Jack works at a magical Christmas market in Milwaukee, where he meets the same beautiful woman each year, but she always forgets him.
This year, however, the woman, Astra is reeling from a painful divorce and helps him discover the world outside the market. The question is whether their relationship can survive Jack’s magically traveling lifestyle.
It’s such a sweet and unique holiday book with a fantastical twist.
One Day in December by Josie Silver
Best for fans of bestsellers you can’t miss
- #1 New York Times bestseller
- Reese Witherspoon book club pick
One Day in December is the perfect mix of Love Actually, Bridget Jones, and Serendipity. After a British woman sees the man of her dreams outside of the bus she’s in, she’s shocked to soon find out he’s actually her best friend’s new boyfriend.
Over the next ten years, a lot happens in that time (no spoilers!), as this unlikely love triangle is teased out.
Check this one out if you love the movies Love Actually, Bridget Jones, and Serendipity.
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
Best for fans of diverse, middle-aged protagonists and royal reads
Royal Holiday is a quick and delightful diverse read about two middle-aged Black people.
When Vivian accompanies her daughter on a work trip to style a royal duchess in England, she meets the handsome private secretary of the Queen and is offered a very personal tour.
As Christmas approaches, their flirty friendship turns into a mistletoe kiss, and later a fling to ring in the New Year. As the clock ticks away on the year and the “holiday,” will this fling turn into something even more in the new year?
Check this one out if you love royal and/or diverse reads.
The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews
Best for fans of small-town romances
In The Santa Suit, Ivy buys an old farmhouse to work on and cultivate change in her life.
In one closet, she finds an old Santa suit with a note from a young girl wishing for her father to come home from the war.
Ivy sets out to find out who wrote the note and what happened afterward, and in the process of her search for Christmas miracles, she finds a welcoming small-town neighborhood and a second chance at love.
Check this one out if you love Gilmore Girls and/or classic holiday magic.
A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss
Best for fans of the second chance romance trope
In A Season for Second Chances, Annie’s kids are grown and her marriage has ended. So, she leaves the city life for a Winter guardian position in a historic seaside home. She adores both the home, the town’s rich seasonal traditions, and her welcoming neighbors—except the homeowner’s nephew, who had different plans for the home.
As Christmas nears, tensions rise and her future seems uncertain unless there’s a little holiday magic and a new lease on love.
Three Weddings and a Holiday by Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley
Best for diverse festive celebrations
Three Holidays and a Wedding combines everything that readers love in a Christmas book plus adds even more, since it also tackles two additional holidays and, you guessed it, a wedding.
Maryam is flying to Toronto for her sister’s last-minute holiday wedding, and her seatmate Anna is headed to meet and spend the holiday season with her boyfriend’s rich family.
Turbulence causes them to bond and confess their hopes and fears, and an emergency landing leaves them snowbound in the very festive small town of Snow Falls.
There, Maryam, who celebrates Ramadan, re-connects with her crush and re-evaluates her place in the world and in her family. Meanwhile, Anna, who celebrates both Christmas and Hannukah, questions her relationship after she meets her celebrity crush, who’s there filming a holiday movie.
Their snowbound status also puts the big wedding in jeopardy.
This book is a light and scrumptious treat for those who love closed-door romances, Hallmark movies, and a diverse holiday season.
The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
Best for fans of Gilmore Girls
The Twelve Dates of Christmas is perfect for fans of Gilmore Girls because the main character is a Lorelai-like thirtysomething single designer and part-time baker at her old friend’s cafe (who is very Luke Danes-like) in a small British town reminiscent of Stars Hollow.
Her best friend signs her up for twelve holiday dates with twelve different men, which make for twelve quirky and unique experiences. But, as she dates these men, she evaluates her feelings about her old friend.
Check this one out if you love Gilmore Girls.
Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
Best for fans of the Virgin River series
Fans of Virgin River the book and/or Netflix series, can transport themselves there for a Virgin River Christmas. Last Christmas, Marcie said goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who had given her three extra years with him. Bobby’s fellow marine Ian had dragged his shattered body onto a medical transport in Fallujah, then disappeared.
In Ian, Marcie finds an emotionally wounded man. As she enters his reclusive life, she finds a sweet soul. And while Ian isn’t sure what to make of her, it may be a season of miracles.
Check this one out if you love Virgin River.
Those are all the best Christmas romance books to curl up with and warm your heart this holiday season. To recap and help you decide what to read first or next, my top 3 picks are:
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