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Saturday Smutty Six: Thanksgiving

Are you looking for the coziness of a Christmas special without the whole Christmas thing? Do you think that Thanksgiving is an under-represented romance setting? Maybe you have a secret desire to read books about as many different holidays as you possibly can? 

Whatever your reasons, if you’re like us, you’re looking for a Thanksgiving themed romance, so here are some we’ve found:

A Match Made for Thanksgiving by Jackie Lau

A Thanksgiving romance list really wouldn’t be complete without this delightful novella that kicks off the Holidays with the Wongs series. This book is great because the protagonists are sincerely going to have a one night stand and just happen to end up at Thanksgiving together because Nick’s parents decided their kids need help finding love and invited dates to their family dinner. As parents do. It’s pretty funny, and it’s even better because Lily isn’t Nick’s date—she’s being set up with his brother!

Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz

This book has everything you could want in a Thanksgiving romance. A matchmaking, wise-cracking, nature-worshipping teenager. Gentle teasing between the main characters. A relationship that starts fake but quickly gets real (without a bunch of drama). Lots of sexy sex at a beautiful lake house. And a truly epic scene of telling off unsupportive family members on Thanksgiving day.

Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert

This book starts on Thanksgiving and carries on through the holidays. Russ is having a bad day on account of he’s supposed to host Thanksgiving but can’t cook when his neighbor, Esteban, finds him tossing a whole skillet in the dumpster. For his part, Esteban can’t resist the grumpy neighbor who is definitely struggling, so he offers to help cook—he just doesn’t realize he’s going to get himself roped into a fake relationship that just doesn’t seem to have a good end date. And then what’s fake becomes physical, so maybe there’s no need to end anything at all. If only their emotional hang-ups over their past didn’t get in the way…


Fakesgiving by Kat Baxter

I’m not convinced that Baxter is actually a geek, because everyone knows that people who like Star Trek don’t call themselves Trekkies, and also Seven of Nine is in no way an obscure reference, BUT if you are less of a geek than me, and you might enjoy a short, playful, fake dating, boss/assistant romance for Thanksgiving, then go for it. It’s just a fun story. My favorite part is that the adhesion plot thrust happens when Kaitlyn’s Mom calls her boss to personally invite him to Thanksgiving, which is how he finds out that Kaitlyn told her family that they’re dating. Since he’s been pining for her, maybe this is his moment.

Stuffed by Hannah Murray

Yeah so…a very nice young couple named Esme and Tucker invite four special friends over for Thanksgiving and also to bake things in Esme’s oven simultaneously. Just like, one after another. They’re all very close friends, and they each have special recipes they’re eager to share with Esme. It was very surprising how much icing was involved in these recipes. If you read this and felt a certain way, then you might really enjoy this book.

Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovitch

If you’re looking for a manic Thanksgiving comedy, this might just fit the bill. Megan and Patrick are definitely attracted to each other; the conflict comes into play when they consider commitment, and what that might look like. Readers should be aware that there is a heavy emphasis on marriage and babies as requirements for building a family. Bonus points for readers who are as excited by Colonial Williamsburg as our protagonists are.

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Lies

SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge prompt this month is Lies (about which more on Wednesday), and a big lie is just such a great point of tension that we thought we’d highlight some more romances that hinge on a humdinger of a lie. Or maybe just a little lie that grows and grows until it’s a big problem. Either way, a lie between the protagonists is a great reason they can’t truly be together, so without further ado, here are some liars.

How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn

Holly is on record stating that this is the first romance novel she ever loved. Yes, there is some cringey Old School nonsense going on, but the banter is just delightful. This is a classic deception plot, complete with the heroine melting down because the revealed lie means that *everything* about their relationship was a lie. (Of course it wasn’t, but that’s the trope, right there.)

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran

“I lied and said we were married even though you’re blackmailing me because I thought you were about to die, but then you woke up and now you have amnesia but we’re still married and I’m terrified but also starting to have pants feels.”

Hexbreaker by J.L. Hawk

Tragedy forced Tom to leave his old life and start fresh, but a murder on his beat puts him perilously close to his past. He can’t do nothing if it’ll save lives, though, so he does the best he can, transferring to the witch police HQ, and hoping that he won’t have to reveal his sordid history to the prickly but lovable Cicero as they work to solve the mystery.


Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Not all lies are enormous, earth-shattering, identity-threatening dealbreakers. In Bet Me, Cal initially asks Min out because of a bet (that he thinks is a joke); Min knows about the bet, and agrees to go out of spite. But because Cal doesn’t know that Min knows, the bet takes on a life of its own as it looms over their slowly deepening relationship.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

“I think you’re wonderful and brilliant and so competent, and I shouldn’t date you, but I just can’t resist you, so it’s gonna be awkward when you find out that the only reason we’re working together is because I’m an undercover agent trying to figure out who in the office is breaking the law. (I’m pretty sure it’s not you…)”

Earl on the Run by Jane Ashford

This is a classic, low-stakes meet-cute deception. Harriet’s Grandfather has swooped in and made Harriet an heiress with a dowry. Jack is a Bostonian with traveler roots, so when he inherits the estate next to Harriet and is rudely snubbed by his grandmother, he joins a group of travelers and ends up sneaking around incognito. Harriet deceives Jack by cornering him into marriage, and Jack deceives Harriet by not telling her he’s the traveler she’s become enamored with.


Want more lies? Here are all our reviews of romances featuring lies and the lying liars who tell them.

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Ingrid Doesn’t Remember Anything

It’s a running joke here at TSR that when Ingrid reads a book, she remembers it for as long as she’s reading it, and then it’s gone from her head. This came up recently when we all decided to put together a list of Old School romances we barely remembered (here and here) and Ingrid didn’t remember anything. So, without further ado, here’s a list of books that Ingrid does remember.


This one’s formatted a little differently than usual because Ingrid actually remembered something first and then went hunting for the book.

Ingrid Remembers: She’s a newly divorced mom living in a beach house and the guy next door has a hammock she can’t keep her kid out of?

The Book: More Than Neighbors by Shannon Stacey

Ingrid Remembers: She’s got a one-handed brother and he’s kind of a real old school “daddy” type?

The Book: The Prize by Julie Garwood

Ingrid Remembers: She’s Helen of Troy and he’s a big deal for some reason, and they run around in ancient times and it’s all very something?

The Book: Wow. It’s Helen of Sparta by Amelia Carosella.

Ingrid Remembers: It’s like a romance but also it’s incredibly creepy, involves ghosts, and has a kind of wainscoting, Victorian house meets beach cottage vibe?

The Book: True Love by Jude Deveraux

Ingrid Remembers: It’s a really buttoned-up, recommend it to your Grandma series but then this one involves a woman who’s doing something that stirs up the townsfolk (but I don’t remember WHAT?? Maybe she’s just a redhead) and he’s trying to be Frank Lloyd Wright in the smallest pioneer town ever?

The Book: Quinn: A Sweet Western Historical Romance by Shanna Hatfield

Ingrid Remembers: One of her parents is like a senator or the mayor or something but the town is tiny so why would that be a big deal? 

The Book: It Had to Be Him by Tamra Baumann

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: It’s Halloweekend!

It’s Halloweekend! If you’re looking for something seasonal to read, we have some recommendations! Our list is organized loosely from spooky to bonkers to cute.

(For more Halloweekend recs, here’s our list from 2020.)


The Haunting of Heatherhurst Hall by Sebastian Nothwell

Halloween is the perfect time to read a spooky gothic romance featuring a spooky gothic haunted house, siblings who are probably up to no good, ghosts, rats in the walls, a one-handed cook, and lesbians. I loved that our heroine, Kit, is pragmatic about trying to solve her spooky gothic problems. Weird noises coming from the walls? Let’s buy some rat poison. Weird ghosts wandering around? Let’s take some pictures and see if we can get proof. The first two-thirds is very atmospheric and absolutely chilling. However, the end doesn’t quite hold up to the promise of the premise: the romance felt kind of rushed and the resolution of all the spooky gothic happenings is absolutely bananapants bonkers.

Weep Woman Weep by Maria DeBlassie

If you want spooky gothic vibes without the creepy Victorian stuff, then this book might be just what you’re looking for. After all, Mercy is being haunted by La Llorona, and what is more spooky and gothic than a ghost who wants to drown you? There are also magic turnips, and since turnips were the original jack-o’-lanterns, this really does seem like the perfect Halloween read. 

 Turnip faces to haunt your dreams!

Full disclosure: The story is definitely more centered on Mercy and her place in the world than on the burgeoning romance between her and her hot farmer neighbor, so it may not be the best choice of you’re a genre romance purist.

Halloween Boo by Sarah Spade

This book is bananas but in a charming way? Dani is pretty sure her apartment is haunted, but she’s made friends-ish with the ghost in the year that she’s lived there. Then this dude shows up in her apartment, tells her his name is Zack, that they only have this one night when the veil is super thin, and they have alllll the sex. For his part, Zack has been pining for Dani for a long time. He doesn’t know how he became a ghost or came to be in the apartment, but he is going to take advantage of his one night of…corporeal-ness. I have to say I was wondering just how their romance was going to work out because—hello—ghost + alive person? But then the ending was delightfully clever. 


My Pumpkin Prince – and the Ghost Between Us by Darryl Banner

This book is off the rails. In a good way. At least, good enough that I’m talking about it here. I didn’t read book one of this duology, and I really don’t think you need to if you want a short(ish), ghosty, romance story that is…very creative. Griffin is trying to figure out how to manage his friendship with his ghost roommate once he’s married, and in the doing, he ends up with a grave illness. (I am hilarious, am I not?) As Griffin and Byron try to figure out how to save both Griffin’s life and their relationship, many things happen, some of which are definitely not #RelationshipGoals, but Griffin and his ghostly roommate find their ways to come to terms with the changes that are occurring whether they’re ready or not.

Awkward in October by Teresa Yea

For those interested in the “cozy fall” vibe rather than the “spooky” Halloween stories, this rom-com is a super playful combination of charm and absurdity. Best suited to those who enjoy potty humor (Ingrid) and don’t get frustrated by youthful foibles. After all, the narrator, Theo, impulsively quits her job to go live her dream across the country in Connecticut. You might expect things don’t go to plan when she buys an old house, sight-unseen, for about as much money as I’d have to spend on a shed (I might exaggerate, but not by much)…and you’d be right. Luckily, there’s a hot neighbor who’s in the construction business, and he’s exactly Theo’s vision of her Romance Hero. Unluckily, real men often don’t measure up to fiction’s standards.

Mr. October by Bethany Weaver

If you’re interested in those cozy vibes but also don’t want to invest in a full-length novel right now, Mr. October has some hijinks and small-town charm. Everybody in town has been pranking Sabrina every October for her entire life, including her best friend, Adam. Me, I would never speak to him again after being scared out of my wits repeatedly, but Sabrina is apparently made of sterner stuff. The besties are mutually pining but are also too scared to do anything about it, until Sabrina turns the tables and they decide to prank the whole town this year as revenge. It’s cute, it’s super short, and it ends with some sexytimes. What more do you need?


Bonus Story: Headless by Aveda Vice

We reviewed Headless as a group last Halloween, but it’s perfect Halloween vibes if you’re looking for a quick, haunting read.

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Hockey Season = Hockey Romance

Well, I decided to do a hockey round-up for the beginning of hockey season, but apparently most of the hockey books I’ve read are college sportsball, or I’ve already talked about them on the blog in a review or a listicle, and obviously I wanted to talk about new-to-us books. So I’m left with a M/M pro hockey romance list. There will be teammates. There will be coaches. There will be celebrities, and some normal people, too. Mostly, it’ll be fun.

So, here! Have some hockey romances!


Trade Deadline by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Nothing to see here but sweetness. After winning the Stanley Cup, Daniel wonders what’s next for his career, so when an offer comes to be an influential veteran for the struggling Miami team, he takes it. His risk is rewarded: it turns out that his childhood bestie still lives in Miami (he works with the marine mammals at the aquarium!), and Micah isn’t opposed to picking up where they left off—first kiss and unrealized romantic dreams finally realized?—now that they’re back in the same city. But Daniel’s career is dependent on his team winning, and Micah can’t find aquarium jobs just anywhere. Bonus points: If you’re looking for an MC with an amicable divorce, I found one for ya! (Daniel’s ex moves with him so they can keep co-parenting equally.)

Skater Boy by A.E. Wasp

Sergei and Alex have been best friends since Sergei was billetted in Alex’s house for juniors. Alex is a retired olympic medalist figure skater who’s floundering and broke. Sergei is an extremely successful professional goalie. When Alex finds out he’s the other man for the jerk who turned out to be a controlling sugar daddy, he has nowhere to go but to Sergei until he figures out his next move. Meanwhile, Sergei, who is giving off many demisexual vibes, realizes that, in fact, he’s interested in more than friendship with Alex. Fun story, though! Just when they’re thinking they might be able to do this relationship thing, they get the curveball of becoming parents as well. Definite domestic bliss fantasy wish fulfillment in this one. This book would be better with more editing, but I found it enjoyable nonetheless.

Hat Trick by Eden Finley

So, look, I started this series at the beginning, and I enjoyed it all; however, the last two books in this series were added after the planned three because the characters just really needed their stories told. Which is likely why they’re my favorites. Soren is the first out player in the NHL. He came out in Deke (#3), which is also a hockey romance (FYI). But now he’s getting old. He’s getting slower. There might not be much hockey left in him, but he’s going to enjoy being the 5th wheel on his Fijian vacation and play next season refreshed. Then Jet comes back in need of some TLC. Jet is the little brother of Trick Play’s (#2) hero. He’s a spitfire. He’s a rock star. But when he and Soren hooked up three years before, he was just getting started. And he’s still ten years younger than Soren. Their relationship has “bad idea” written all over it, but they just don’t care anymore.


Gravity by Tal Bauer

Can I interest you in some angst? The first…half(?) of this book is an emotional roller coaster. It’s followed by some lovely, calm sweetness like snuggles under the blanket by the fire when the snow is falling outside. And then someone almost dies. Me, I am a sucker for an “Oh my God, you almost died, and then I would have died!” moment, but I feel I should warn readers that this one was particularly, er, graphically terrifying. Pucks are no joke, folks. And then the ending is really lovely. Broadly speaking, I liked this book. Bryce is the biggest player in the league, and he’s closeted, but it doesn’t matter because he’s never interested in anybody. He and Hunter hit it off immediately, but Hunter’s convinced he’s straight. Mixed signals ensue. Enter the angst-fest.

Home & Away by Samantha Wayland

The quantity of absolutely bananas stuff in this book (I mean, just Rupert’s background alone) is one thing that’s extremely entertaining if you roll with it. But the primary draw of this is probably going to be that it’s 100% playing house, we-made-a-family fantasy wish fulfillment. Callum and Rupert get off on the wrong foot when professional goalie Callum buys into the minor-pro (CHL-type) hockey team Rupert manages, but when Rupert’s 4yo brother needs rescuing, one thing leads to another. And another. And sharing a bed. And a hotel room. And coordinating childcare. And making decisions together. And why is Callum going back to his pro-hockey career in a different country, again?

Changing the Rules by Brigham Vaughn

Y’all, I cannot resist a coach romance. If it’s coach-player, so much the better. It’s so naugty. And Gabriel and Lance know they’re being naughty. The one thing they have going for them is that Lance coaches the forwards and Gabriel plays defense. They’re both living their second chance—a TBI ended Lance’s pro career and his marriage, and it took him many years to rehabilitate himself until he was able to coach; Gabriel’s only outlet for his personal woes has been sex and fighting, so his last chance at a pro career after being put on waivers is to toe the line in Evanston. If you’re into a wholeheartedly caring and supportive friendship as a romantic foundation, this one delivers.


Well, shoot, I wrote up this whole Saturday Smutty Six and then started making the graphics and found I had seven! Plus my bonus down below! Whatever. More romance is better than less romance! Enjoy this Saturday Smutty Seventh and the Taylor Fitzpatrick it’s-technically-not-genre-romance-but-it-slayed-me bonus below.

Power Play by Avon Gale 

Why have one coach when you could have two? I don’t know. And I didn’t try to resist, honestly. Max is the new assistant coach for an ECHL team, and he is very surprised to discover that his head coach is none other than Misha, the guy who caused the accident that ended Max’s pro career. You’d think the conflict would center on this one injury that so significantly impacted both men…but it doesn’t. Instead, Misha has a lot of baggage about a lot of things (among them is Max’s injury, but it’s by no means the biggest), and both men are fighting for the health, wellbeing, and success of all their players. If you’re into scenes involving holidays that bring people together, I found a book for you!


Bonus points: Thrown Off the Ice by Taylor Fitzpatrick

It’s not *technically* a genre romance, but oh my gosh it was such a beautiful love story. I wouldn’t typically recommend a book that’s not a romance because I get super ragey when I go in thinking something is a romance and it’s not, but there are a couple things about this book that made it really worthwhile. If you want a good cry with a lifelong love story between a veteran D-man and a rookie forward that has so, so much heart, I do recommend this one. 


Got any hockey recommendations for Erin? Please let her know. Seriously. She needs them all.