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Although I spend a good portion of my life in coffee shops, I only rarely go to Starbucks. I prefer the coffee in my local independent cafés, not to mention the prices. But as soon as November arrives, and Starbucks announces the arrival of their holiday drinks, I march my way to their closest store and become a temporary fixture there. I make it a point to try all the drinks at least once, even the ones that I’m certain I won’t enjoy. Every year, I go home with the new version of their holiday reusable cup, and use it every day until the end of December.
Of course, when I go to a coffee shop, Starbucks or otherwise, I bring a book with me. During part of November and all of December, that book is very likely to be a holiday novel – usually Christmas, but I make sure to sprinkle in a few Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s books. A lot of those books are romance novels: in fact, I read more romance during the holidays than at any other time of the year. If you’re also a romance reader and a Starbucks holiday drink fan, keep reading: I’ll give you a romance novel based on your favorite drink.
A note: although most of my holiday romance reading is seasonal, I purposefully chose romances that aren’t about the holidays. So no matter what you celebrate, you should be able to enjoy the story regardless.
If You Love the Caramel Brulée Latte, Read…
A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred #1) by Joanna Shupe
Content Warnings: sexism, mentions of suicide, loss of loved ones.
Few drinks are as decadent as the Caramel Brulée Latte, which makes this romance set in the Gilded Age the perfect companion.
Both Lady Honoria Parker and her father agree that she needs to marry. The only problem? Her father despises the man she loves. So Honoria decides to take matters into her own hands: she will pick a horrible fiancé, one that will make her father agree to let her marry as she chooses. But Julius Hatcher, gorgeous, dissipated, and wealthy, may not be as terrible a match as she expects.
If You Love the Chestnut Praline Latte, Read…
Silver Linings by Chassilyn Hamilton
CWs: gaslighting, panic attacks.
The Chestnut Praline Latte is heavy on spices, and so is this novel about a woman who runs into her old college professor on a singles’ cruise.
Camryn Southern doesn’t have big expectations for this trip: she just wants to relax, and soothe her wounds after a recent breakup. But it turns out that Sylvester Cameron, a man she had a huge crush on at 18, is on the cruise too. And he’s certainly noticed that she’s far from a teenager now.
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If You Love the Peppermint Mocha, Read…
Battle Royal by Lucy Parker
CWs: grief, past emotional abuse, discussed death of loved ones
Like a peppermint mocha, this book manages to be both sweet and fresh. Professional bakers Sylvie Fairchild and Dominic De Vere are polar opposites, both in their approach to baking and to life. As a result, their relationship is nonexistent – and their interactions icy.
When an opportunity arises to bake the cake for an upcoming royal wedding, neither of them are willing to lose. It’s a shame that they spend almost as much time staring at each other as they do thinking up ideas for a royal wedding cake.
If You Love the Irish Cream Cold Brew, Read…
In Her Closet (The Lust Diaries #1) by Tasha L. Harrison
CW for domestic abuse and miscarriage.
A bold drink like the Irish Cream Cold Brew requires a bold read. In Her Closet introduces us to Yves Santiago, an entertainment columnist who both works and plays hard. She describes her exploits on The Lust Diaries, a blog that is supposed to be anonymous.
Enter Elijah Weinstein, a Creative Nonfiction editor who happens to know both the blog and the identity of the blogger. Yves wants him…but can she trust him?
If You Love the Sugar Cookie Latte, Read…
D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia Higgins
CWs: anxiety, homophobia, fatphobia, self-harm, colorism
Falling in love is fraught with (emotional) peril in normal circumstances. In the midst of a reality show? The stakes go way up, as D’Vaughn Miller and Kris Zavala come to discover.
Although it has some angst, this novel about two women who must pretend to be engaged and in love matches the sweetness of the Sugar Cookie Latte.
If You Love the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Read…
The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley
CWs: sexism, classism, controlling parents, xenophobia
Sweet and topped with sparkles, the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha reminds me of this novel. Tommy and Philippa’s love story is sweet, but there’s enough of a spark to keep it from being fluffy. It’s a heist romance featuring found family, bluestockings, a protagonist who reads non-binary, and a homing kitten.
If You Love(d) the Gingerbread Latte, Read…
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
CW: panic attacks, grief, mentions of death of loved ones, car crash
Like the now defunct gingerbread latte (RIP), this novel is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy. In truth, I could have chosen any of Talia Hibbert’s novels for this one, but I went with my personal favorite. It includes a Teddy Bear of a hero (wrapped up in a brooding, gorgeous package), a brilliant heroine (who can’t take a hint no matter how hard the universe tries), and a fake relationship that’s getting more real by the day.
If You Love(d) the Eggnog Latte, Read…
Unwritten Rules by KD Casey
CWs: internalized homophobia, racism, sexism
The Eggnog Latte was less sweet than most other holiday options, which was a blessing for many. Similarly, this book is a lot less sweet than most others on this list – crossing all the way over to angsty.
Pro baseball player Zach Glasser has many regrets. The big one: losing his love, former teammate Eugenio Morales, because Zach wasn’t ready to come out. Three years after parting ways, the two meet again in the league’s All-Stars Classic. Can they make it work this time?