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6 Novels to Read if You Love Hallmark Holiday Movies

Escape with these books offering romance and loads of seasonal cheer

spinner image a couple holding each other at a christmas market in a city

You’ve got to love those romantic Hallmark and Lifetime movies, famously set in quaint small towns blanketed in festive decor, and love stories with guaranteed happy endings. Watching them has become a holiday-season tradition, but come on, we all know the book is usually better than the movie. Luckily, you can find lots of sweet and cozy holiday romance novels, some with slightly older characters (you don’t have to be under 30 to fall in love!).

We’ve rounded up six you can snuggle up with this season.

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spinner image book cover for bright lights big christmas by mary kay andrews
St. Martin's Press

Bright Lights, Big Christmas

Mary Kay Andrews

Like any Hallmark romance worth its weight in eggnog, this 2023 romantic novel by Mary Kay Andrews has a festive setting (New York City in December), a fish-out-of-water element, a punny title and even a cute dog. Kerry Tolliver leaves behind her family’s North Carolina tree farm to help out her older brother, who sells Christmas trees out of a tiny vintage camper on a street corner in Greenwich Village. Once there, she quickly becomes entwined with her new neighbors and, of course, sparks up a friendship (or maybe more?) with a single dad who lives on the block with his young son. A former newspaper reporter, Mary Kay Andrews is the best-selling author of 30 novels and a cookbook.

spinner image Christmas at Fireside Cabin book cover
Defy the Dark LLC

Christmas at Fireside Cabins

Jenny Hale

The talented author behind Coming Home for Christmas and Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses (both of which became Hallmark Channel holiday movies) whisks us away on a holiday vacation with Lila Evans and her three best friends in their late 30s to Fireside Cabins in Pinewood Hills, Tennessee. This may be the last annual trip for the foursome, as jobs and relationships begin to pull them in different directions, but Lila is determined to enjoy it. As it turns out, that’s a tall order. The shabby Fireside Cabins looks nothing like the photos suggested, and a run-in with the surly coffee shop owner in town makes it difficult to find any Christmas cheer. Despite all that, Lila finds herself wanting to help the widowed owner of Fireside Cabins save her business, and she just might have found a reason — or rather, a certain coffee shop owner — that makes her want to stick around Pinewood Hills longer than planned.  

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spinner image book cover for the twelve months of christmas by sheila roberts

The Twelve Months of Christmas

Sheila Roberts

With about 50 books under her belt (including a historic series set during the British Regency period), Sheila Roberts has written more than a dozen holiday-set romances, including a trio that have been adapted into movies for Hallmark, Lifetime and Great American Family. Her newest tale (2023) follows three women who are all having their own version of a Blue Christmas: Newlywed Sunny doesn’t get along with her stepkids; recently divorced Arianna has to send her daughter off to spend Christmas with her ex; and Molly is sick and tired of her job at the post office. Their solution? Redo the holiday every month throughout the next year.  

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spinner image A Heartfelt Christmas Promise book cover
St. Martin's Griffin

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise

Nancy Naigle

Vanessa Larkin was hoping to turn her business trip to Paris into a working vacation, but instead her company sends her to Fraser Hills, North Carolina — home of the best fruitcake in the U.S. Unfortunately, she’s not here to spread holiday cheer but to shut down the fruitcake factory and turn it into warehouse space. Widower Mike Marshall’s grandfather founded the factory but sold out to a big Chicago corporation years before. Even though Mike was never involved with the business, he wants to preserve one of the last pieces of the town’s legacy for future generations, including his 16-year-old daughter. As he shows Vanessa around and she engages in the holiday festivities, she begins to wonder if she can give her new friends a Christmas miracle. There’s also a bonus romance in this one, between Vanessa’s recently retired second cousin, Anna, and Mike’s grandfather Buck.

spinner image The Gift of Family book cover

The Gift of Family

Mary Monroe

Middle-aged couple Eugene and Rosemary Johnson seemingly have it all, but they’re still holding out hope for the one thing they want most: a child. They’ve fostered teenagers twice, only to have them return to their birth families. Then Rosemary is told she’ll need a complete hysterectomy, and they feel their dreams slipping out of their hands. When Eugene reaches out to Ethel, the woman who took care of him and his brother as children, to help Rosemary recuperate from her surgery, he has no idea how it will change their holiday plans — and their lives. Ethel is a widow in her 60s who’s struggling to raise her three great-grandchildren, and it isn’t long before the two families start depending on each other more and more. This sweet holiday tale works through complicated real-world problems while tugging at your heartstrings in all the right places.

spinner image book cover for three holidays and a wedding by uzma jalaluddin and marissa stapley
G.P. Putnam's Sons

Three Holidays and a Wedding

Uzma Jalaluddin and Marissa Stapley

This zany 2023 rom-com was cowritten by two Canadian authors, whose story focuses on two strangers, Maryam Aziz and Anna Gibson. They meet when they sit next to each other on a flight to Toronto, as Maryam heads to her sister’s last-minute wedding and Anna travels to meet her boyfriend’s rich family. Scary turbulence makes them confess their deepest secrets to each other, which sounds safe since they’ll never see each other again — until they find themselves staying at the same snowbound inn after an emergency landing. Befitting a multicultural city like Toronto, where these characters both live, the book incorporates Christmas, Hanukkah and Ramadan into the story, plus a sprawling cast of characters and a healthy helping of chaos.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on Dec. 2, 2020. It has been updated to reflect new books. 

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