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Although I spend a good portion of my life in coffee shops, I rarely go to Starbucks. I prefer the coffee at my local independent cafes, not to mention the prices. But as soon as November arrives and Starbucks announces the arrival of their Christmas drinks, I march to their nearest store and become a temporary facility there. I make it a point to try all drinks at least once, even the ones I’m sure I won’t like. Every year I go home with the new version of their reusable holiday mug and use it every day until the end of December.
If I go to a coffee shop, Starbucks or anything else, of course I take a book with me. During part of November and all of December this book will very likely be a Christmas novel – usually Christmas, but I make sure to throw in a few Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s books. Many of these books are romance novels: in fact, I read more romance novels during the holidays than at any other time of the year. If you also read romance novels and are a fan of Starbucks holiday drinks, read on: I’ll Give You a Romance Novel Based on Your Favorite Drink.
A note: although most of my Christmas novels are seasonal, I’ve intentionally chosen romances that aren’t about the holidays. No matter what you’re celebrating, you should still be able to enjoy the story.
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, making this Golden Age romance set the perfect accompaniment.
Both Lady Honoria Parker and her father agree that she must marry. The only problem? Her father despises the man she loves. So Honoria decides to take matters into her own hands: she’s going to choose a terrible fiancé, one who will make her father let her marry however he pleases. But Julius Hatcher, beautiful, licentious, and wealthy, may not be as terrible a match as she anticipates.
If you love the chestnut praline latte, read…
Silver lining by Chassilyn Hamilton
CWs: gaslighting, panic attacks.
The Chestnut Praline Latte is heavily spiced, as is this novel about a woman who meets her old college professor on a singles cruise.
Camryn Southern doesn’t have high expectations for this trip: she just wants to relax and heal her wounds after a recent breakup. But it turns out Sylvester Cameron, a man she had a crush on when she was 18, is also on the cruise. And he must have noticed that she is no longer a teenager.
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If you love the Peppermint Mocha, read…
Battle Royale by Lucy Parker
CWs: Grief, past emotional abuse, death of loved one discussed
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 in life. As a result, their relationship is nonexistent — and their interactions icy.
When the opportunity arises to bake the cake for an upcoming royal wedding, they are both not willing to lose. It’s a shame they spend almost as much time staring at each other as they dream up royal wedding cake ideas.
If you love Irish Cream Cold Brew, read…
In Her Closet (The Lust Diaries #1) by Tasha L. Harrison
CW for Domestic Violence and Miscarriage.
A bold drink like Irish Cream Cold Brew calls for bold reading. In Her Closet, Yves introduces us to Santiago, an entertainment columnist who works and plays hard. She describes her exploits on The Lust Diaries, a blog that claims to be anonymous.
That’s where Elijah Weinstein comes in, a creative nonfiction editor who happens to know both the blog and the blogger’s identity. Yves wants him… but can she trust him?
If you love the Sugar Cookie Latte, read…
D’Vaughn and Kris plan a wedding for Chencia Higgins
CWs: fear, homophobia, fat phobia, self-harm, colorism
Falling in love under normal circumstances involves (emotional) dangers. In the middle of a reality show? The stakes are rising, as D’Vaughn Miller and Kris Zavala note.
This novel, about two women who have to pretend to be engaged and in love, is a little scary but suits the sweetness of the Sugar Cookie Latte.
If you love Roasted White Chocolate Mocha, read…
The Perks of Love for a Wallflower by Erica Ridley
CWs: sexism, classism, controlling parents, xenophobia
Sweet and glittery, the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha reminds me of that novel. Tommy and Philippa’s love story is sweet, but there’s enough spark to keep it from getting fluffy. It’s a crime fiction novel featuring a found family, bluesocks, a protagonist who reads non-binary, and a haunting kitten.
If you love the Gingerbread Latte, read…
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
CW: Panic attacks, grief, mentions of death of loved ones, car accident
Like the now-defunct Gingerbread Latte (RIP), this novel is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. Actually, I could have chosen any Talia Hibbert novel for this one, but I chose my personal favorite. It features a teddy bear hero (wrapped in a broodingly beautiful 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 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 of the others on this list — to the point of scary.
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 their split, the two meet again at the league’s All-Stars Classic. Can they make it this time?
In the market for more book + drink pairs? We have them.