Have yourself a merry little Christmas, and make the Yuletide gay. That’s all any of us really want right? And despite a few queer holiday movies like Happiest Season, The Christmas Setup, and Dashing in December, the world of holiday romance is still, well, overwhelmingly straight. Don’t get me wrong I love The Knight Before Christmas as much as anybody, but that still leaves some room for improvement. If a medieval knight traveling through time to fall in love with Vanessa Hudgens just in time for Christmas isn’t too far fetched, then I’m pretty sure gay romance shouldn’t be either.
The great news is, despite the slim pickings when it comes to movies, the world of queer holiday romances in book is (as usual) doing a bit better. We’ve got books about women falling in love at a holiday baking competition and single dads falling for their hot silver fox neighbors. It’s a queer Christmas extravaganza! This list is by no means perfect. I’d love to see a lot more trans, nonbinary, ace, and bi rep (to name a few), not to mention — always, always — more stories by authors of color. But these 20 must-read queer holiday romances are still a pretty good place to start.
Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera
The Great British Baking Show meets Holiday Baking Championship in this fun, foodie holiday romance. A Dominican pastry chef with a whole lot to prove and a home cook reacquainting herself with her love for baking have a whole lot of chemistry behind the scenes, but when they’re paired up to compete as a team, will they be able to bring that same heat to their culinary creations? You’ll definitely be craving all the holiday treats cooked up by Kiskeya and Sully in this sweet (and a little bit spicy) novella.
Faux Ho Ho by Nathan Burgoine
Silas Waite has no interest in showing up at his family’s Thanksgiving just so they can show off how tolerant they are in light of his brother’s political campaign. Pretending to be dating his new personal trainer roommate, Dino, seems like a good enough ruse to get him out of it. Until they’re invited to his sister’s upcoming wedding, that is. Silas loves his sister enough to go despite his family and Dino doesn’t mind the idea of a chateau Christmas. But after nine months as roommates and now fake boyfriends, something’s gotta give. Between growing feelings for Dino and a family that barely tolerates him, will Silas be able to make it through this holiday wedding without things becoming a total disaster?
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
This cute F/F romance take place over the course of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s the wintry Seattle setting that really gives it its holiday vibes. After a disastrous blind date, astrology-obsessed Elle Jones doesn’t expect to ever hear from no-nonsense Darcy again. But with Darcy’s older brother — the creator of a wildly successful dating app — trying to set up her constantly, it seems like a fake relationship might be just the thing to finally get him off her back. Elle and Darcy can put up with each other just long enough to convince her brother they’re for real and make Elle’s picture-perfect family think she’s finally found the one, right? Real feelings are totally off the table — until they aren’t.
Amor Actually: A Holiday Romance Anthology Edited by Adriana Hererra
Nine sweet love stories from beloved romance authors like Alexis Daria (A Lot Like Adios) and Adriana Hererra (see above: Mangos and Mistletoe) about Nochebuena and falling in love in New York City. Though the anthology isn’t exclusively LGBTQ, three of the stories definitely are: “Make the Yuletide Gay” by Adriana Herrera, “All I Want for Nochebuena” by Alexis Daria, and “To Us, You Are Perfect” by Alexis Daria & Adriana Herrera.
The Inside Edge by Ashlyn Kane
What’s more perfect for the holiday season than an ice skating romance? It’s The Cutting Edge but make it gay. An ex-hockey player just looking for a post-divorce fling and a former figure skating playboy who might actually be falling in love find themselves at odds from the beginning when they’re paired up a co-hosts of a new sports show. The sparks are undeniable, but with both of them looking for different things, will they be able to get on the same page on — and off — the ice?
A Christmas Parranda by Andrea Beatriz Arango
Love, Actually meets A Christmas Carol in this F/F Latinx romance. Rocío is tired of her tiny apartment and her boring job and her lack of a social life. But when the ghosts of her tías show up to try to make her change her ways, will Rocío be able to make the one change that really matters? The tías seem to think she should get back with her ex-boyfriend, but he’s not the one she can’t stop thinking about…
The Geek Who Saved Christmas by Annabeth Albert
Gideon Holiday is pretty much the perfect neighbor, and he’s waited years for his grumpy silver fox of a neighbor to need his help for, well, pretty much anything. And this year, he’d just love to get Paul on board with the holiday lights fundraiser. Paul Frost, on the other hand, has no interest in decking the halls, no matter how much his cute bow-tie-wearing neighbor might want him to. But a last-minute visit from his brother leaves Paul in a festive lurch when it comes to decorations, and Gideon is ready and waiting to help trim the trees and roll out some Christmas cookies. And as for falling into bed, well, it wasn’t part of the plan, but these things happen.
In the Winter Woods by Isabelle Adler
Declan isn’t in the Christmas mood. In fact, his holiday getaway to his family’s lakeside cabin in Maplewood, Vermont, is more of a chance to get his head on straight and his writing back on track after sales of his last mystery novel plummeted than anything else. But a series of threatening letters and a killer on the loose leave Declan with no choice but to change his plans. Now, he has to get to the bottom of the threatening letters and prove his innocence — with the help of a handsome Public Safety Commissioner — before he winds up behind bars, or worse: dead.
American Christmas by Adriana Herrera
This adorable M/M Christmas novella follows an already oh-so-in-love couple on Christmas Eve as they finish up final preparations for their gift exchange. Despite setting a price limit, both have gone a little overboard in an effort to treat the other with a gift they really deserve. It’s a really sweet story with little drama. And what drama comes up is resolved quickly with communication. Definitely my kind of holiday romance.
Under the Mistletoe by Everly James
Popular lesbian romance author Samantha Evans has a deadline for a new book by New Year’s Eve. There’s just one problem: she has a major case of writer’s block. A writer’s retreat seems like the perfect solution for her problems. A bit of solitude and silence is just what she needs to get back on track with this book. Instead, she gets a roommate. Aspiring novelist Gia is thrilled to find out her retreat roomie is gorgeous romance author Samantha Evans. Too bad a terrible first impression ruins any chances the two of them had at getting along. But between a blizzard and getting snowed in at a writer’s retreat, will the two of them be able to find the inspiration they need from a bit of real-life romance?
Out on the Ice by Kelly Farmer
Another ice rink romance, where two hockey players coaching an all-girls hockey camp fall hard, but is their summertime romance more than just a fling? Okay, okay, yes, this one isn’t set over the holidays, but hockey is too undeniably wintery not to include it on this list of must-read queer holiday romances.
Being Merry by Meka James
Festive and full of holiday spirit despite being nearly out of options for housing, Noelle show up to her temporary housing solution wearing a reindeer headband and a smile. But despite agreeing to have her, Lennox has no interest in a roommate — especially one as overly enthusiastic as Noelle. But underneath all those Christmas sweaters is someone Lennox might actually like to spend more time with if she can just let herself open up a little. It would take a Christmas miracle to get these two polar opposites together…but that’s just what the holidays are for, right?
His Christmas Sweater by C.M. Valencourt
Opposites attract in this book about a holiday-hating inn manager and the Christmas sweater clad man who shows up looking for a room during a blizzard. With his plans to travel home interrupted by the worst blizzard Colorado has ever seen, Owen just wants to bring some Christmas cheer to this hotel and its grumpy manager. But will Jacob be able to open up before the snow has cleared and Owen is on his way?
The Bluest Christmas by Deja Elise
Christmas has never been the most wonderful time of the year for Lynn Harris. She’s guarded and a bit depressed, which hasn’t exactly led to a lot of friends and family to surround herself with. But her quiet life takes a turn when she’s tasked with enforcing an eviction on a young woman and her baby only to find out they’re hiding from an abusive husband. Bringing Nola back home with her definitely wasn’t part of the job description, but Lynn can’t think of anything else to do, determined to help the mother and child. And as Nola makes herself at home for the holidays, Lynn realizes maybe she was the one who needed help all along.
When You Least Expect It by Haley Cass
Caroline Parker has the worst luck around the holidays. She’s been broken up with not once, not twice, but three times during Christmas. So when she runs into Hannah Dalton on Christmas Eve, she has no reason to believe this time will be any different. After all, Hannah is married to Caroline’s biggest rival at work. Being hired by her to win a divorce case and stick it to her ex-colleague should be enough to keep Caroline going through the holidays, though. Except the more Hannah and her daughter Abbie become a part of Caroline’s life, the more their attorney client relationship is blurred. Is Caroline’s bad luck around the holidays finally about to change?
The Holiday Treatment by Elle Spencer
Holly Hudson is working on the Wifetime Network’s very cheesy, very straight holiday romance series: Christmas in Evermore. But she has a hidden agenda. Holly is determined to get a gay Christmas movie on the network. And when Meredith Drake moves into the holiday division, her hopes look a little more promising. They’ve agreed to keep things strictly professional now that they’re working together, even with a steaming hot fling in the history books. They’re determined to make the Yuletide gay by bringing a holiday movie with two female leads to the Network. But maybe it’s not too late to find some holiday romance of their own.
Her Christmas Cookie by Katrina Jackson
Get ready for some steamy holiday celebrations with the sweet poly triad at the heart of this Christmas romance. Small town baker Mary has been in a relationship with fire chief Knox and police chief Santos for over a year now, and things are getting serious enough that Santos wants to bring everyone home to meet the family. Then Knox has the idea to turn it into a road trip West to meet all the families. Love isn’t always easy, but these three are prepared to make it work…even with families who want grandkids yesterday and a whole lot of recipe swaps.
The Christmas Lights Battle by Skylar M. Cates
All single dad Julian Moss wants is to give his kids a happy Christmas after the divorce. He’s lost some of his Christmas spirit, though, what with a cheating ex-husband and the stress of the season. Then his son tells him about a Christmas lights competition with a prize that could change everything. His new neighbor Leo just sees it as a good source of publicity for his personal training business. And if it helps take his focus off spending the holidays along again away from his close-minded family, well, all the better. But a little competition might be just what these two neighbors need to spark a little romance.
Her Christmas Wish by Karmen Lee
Guilt-tripped into heading home for the holidays, Rochelle “Rocky” Thomas finds herself coming face to face with someone she thought she’d left behind: Georgia Lee. Rocky didn’t mean to fall for her sister’s former best friend, but the heart wants what it wants. And Rocky’s heart wants Georgie. Now it’s just a matter of finding the courage to reveal Rocky’s real Christmas wish to Georgia in this holiday novella.
Collie Jolly by Leigh Landry
Applying to be a dog trainer seems like a good way to get through the recession, even if Ashley doesn’t have a lick of training. She’s enthusiastic enough to make this work! The hardest part may be the growing attraction she feels for her reclusive new client, a grieving photographer left with a rambunctious puppy that reminds her of the girlfriend she lost less than a year ago. Ashley’s sunny disposition begins to bring some joy back into Madison’s life — but is she ready to face love again?
If you like these must-read queer holiday romances you might also like these lesbian and gay holiday romances and the 5 diverse romances we want to see as Hallmark Christmas movies.