Hello, readers! Thanksgiving is past, December is upon us, decorations are going up, and holiday anthologies are appearing on bookshelves and at e-retailers everywhere. It’s sure sign of the season. Love holiday anthologies? Hate them? Have a wish list of stories you’d like to see? Have we got a post for you. Come join us.
Once upon a time, there were no holiday romance anthologies. Weren’t a lot of anthologies at all, as a matter of fact, which is not a fun thing for anybody involved. Thankfully, we don’t have to live in an anthology-free world any longer, but it’s always good to take a nostalgic look back, especially at this time of year, when thoughts of tradition and sentiment come to mind.
Back when this blogger worked in a small bookstore, it was about the time the first Christmas (for so they were in those early days) anthologies hit the shelves, and she made sure that one entire row of the new romance release display rack remained exclusive to those new additions. Signet put out their Regency collections, Harlequin had their category/contemporary tales, and, in time, (and time travel) other themes began to emerge.
Western Christmas stories, both past and present, gave the holiday season a homey feel, while the historical collections tiptoed out of the Regency and into other eras, such as Victorian and medieval. Multicultural anthologies also came to the fore, to make sure everybody could celebrate, and we saw Hannukah and Kwanzaa get some holiday love. It wasn’t all about Santa anymore. Inspirational romances covered the spiritual side of Christmas, and a little woo-woo (as it was called, once upon a time) crept into the ho-ho-ho, as other authors inserted magical elements, time travel, or even vampires into their tales of holiday love. Maybe a cup of eggnog has more holiday panache than a bag of blood, but hey, the more the merrier, especially when it comes to HEAs.
Some of us like to read these anthologies from first page to last, while others prefer to cherry pick. Among the cherry-pickers, some go for their favorite author, or the most appealing story first, while others save them for last, but then there are those who have a different approach altogether. Some readers are there for one author/story, and one author/story only, the heck with the rest of them.
Maybe the other authors or stories don’t appeal, or maybe the desired story is part of an ongoing series (these days, it more than likely is, if it is not kicking off a new one.) Either way, budgets, both financial and temporal, can be tight this time of year, and, sometimes, a reader wants only one story and doesn’t need the extras. If only there were a way to get only the story they want, without having to pay for the ones that don’t immediately ring that particular reader’s bell.
That’s where our friend, the e-book, comes into play. Whether the stories are brand new or the author has regained the rights from a previous release, many authors now offer their novellas, seasonal or otherwise, independently of any anthology format. That’s quick, efficient, and, for those who are not familiar with the author, a good way to try out something new. Many readers have found new favorite authors in anthologies bought for a favorite author, or story type, but hey, they other stories are right there, nobody wants to get out of the comfy chair, out from under the blanket, or disturb the sleeping pet in one’s lap, so reading these other stories hanging out between the same covers is an option.
Single title holiday stories are also a sign of the season, from category to mass market, and continuities, where multiple authors write in a common story world, add a bit of variety for all palates. While it’s true that anthologies do come out at all times of the year, and can incorporate any theme -or no theme at all- there’s something special about a whole bunch of story people coming together and finding love in the midst of winter holidays, whatever those holidays may be.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Do you like holiday romance anthologies? Why or why not? Do stories of love during the winter holidays hold a special place in your heart? Is it even better when those stories come in bite-size packages, for on-the-go reading, or a quick holiday boost? Do you have a favorite anthology, type of anthology, or favorite holiday novella, or even novel? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. If the whole idea of holiday romance elicits a rousing “bah,humbug” from you, we want to hear about that, too. There’s room for everybody at this table.