Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Who Did It Better . . . On Thanksgiving

Ready for another edition of Who Did It Better? Jen received a bunch of Thanksgiving holiday romance recs on Twitter a few weeks ago and decided to read them and rank them for you. 'Tis the season of giving, and what better gift than book recs?

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, then I wish you and yours a very happy, stress-free dinner tomorrow! And if you're going out on Black Friday -- either to shop or to work -- be safe and polite.

Now on with the list!

Who Did It Better . . . On Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving isn’t my favorite holiday---I don’t like cooking and I hate turkey, football, and parades. Turkey Bah Humbug! I’m not a total monster. I am thankful for lots of things, but why celebrate them around a meal that I don’t like that takes days to prepare?

Then I thought, maybe I’d like Thanksgiving better if I had a great Thanksgiving themed romance to read. Of course I talked about it on Twitter and got some great recommendations. But know that I was skeptical: real Thanksgiving stories would be about families bickering and everyone being too full from dinner to have sex.

Another interesting part of that Twitter conversations happened here:

Twitter convo HERE

Please know that if I don’t have Melissa Blue’s angry sex Thanksgiving story by 2018, I will be VERY DISAPPOINTED. Gourd thrown, Melissa Blue! (see what I did there?)

Here we go! And because I’m surly about Thanksgiving, I’ll be playing the role of the angry Chicagoan judge in the second round of the “Who Did It Better” series. As a reminder, every book below is a great read, but the ratings are for the actual Thanksgiving scenes. Bon appetit!

Kindle | NOOK | Kobo
Currently $0.99!

A Midnight Feast by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner

This novella really packs a punch, exposing the fault lines in the 20 year old marriage of astronaut Mitch Dunsford and his wife Margie. It’s an icy stage of their marriage, and Margie is counting on the Thanksgiving guests to be a buffer between her and Mitch. But after a series of cancellations, Margie and Mitch are alone together for the first time in what seems like years. Mitch reaches out to Margie, they reconnect physically, but she quickly retreats. Her anger at a decade of neglect can’t be fixed by a quickie on the floor of the dining room. The story goes back in time to the night they first met, through the decades of their marriage, and then forward from Thanksgiving as they try to fix what is broken between them. It’s a great story, a second chance at love when there was never a break-up. But the Thanksgiving day scenes are brief and just a prelude to a season of forgiveness and renewal.

Honorable Mention Thanksgiving

Kindle | NOOK | Kobo
Currently $2.99!

Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown

Keighley loves her parents and siblings, but she can’t help but wish that Aunt Daphne wasn’t invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Aunt Daphne and her kids are Christian fundamentalists who disapprove of the fact that Keighley is a lesbian. Keighley comes across an advertisement in the WSW (women seeking women) section of Craigslist that gives her an idea---bring a fake date to Thanksgiving and just ignore the judgment while having a beautiful woman on her arm. Sparks fly when Keighley meets Brooke, the local tattoo artist who placed the ad. The Thanksgiving scene itself happens early in the book, and it’s wonderful. Keighley's cousin, Connie suggests her husband should say the grace before dinner, but when he demurs, Brooke offers to do it. It’s a beautiful non-denominational prayer, one that sets the mood for a Thanksgiving dinner where everyone is welcome. But by the end of the meal, one of the mean cousins injures her own dog and verbally assaults Brooke for trying to step in. Brooke says, “You’re just pissed...and took it out on a helpless dog!” The cousin responds by calling her a “dyke slut” and Brooke isn’t having that either, snapping back, “It’s femme slut to you, cunt.” Their romance is grounded in this moment---where Brooke shows Keighley how to stand up for the innocent and for yourself.

Bronze Medal Thanksgiving

Kindle | NOOK | Kobo
Currently $0.99!

Apples Should be Red by Penny Watson

This book starts out with young married couple Karen and John bemoaning the circumstances under which his crotchety father and her recently widowed mother will have to spend a few days alone together before Thanksgiving. I am not going to lie to you, I almost quit on page 3 of this book, when our 62 year old hero uses a slur against mentally disabled people that everyone stopped using in the 80s, and then goes on to bitch about the store clerk mooching off his taxes. I was entirely sure that the charm of “angry old white man falling in love” would be lost on me. FOR SCIENCE, I soldiered through and I’m glad I did. This book is fucking delightful for a lot of reasons---Tom convinces 59 year old Beverly to loosen up and enjoy herself and Bev convinces Tom to stop being such a surly recluse. Karen and John show up on Thursday morning, expecting their parents to be icily silent or completely ignoring each other. Family fighting on Thanksgiving is pretty easy to come by, but having your parent bang your spouse’s parent AND walking in on them naked and snuggling on the living room couch Thanksgiving morning? This Chicago judge would have awarded Apples Should be Red the platinum medal if Tom had admitted the error of his ways and whispered to Bev that he voted for Hillary during the sexy times. Alas, no such confession happened.

Silver Medal Thanksgiving

Kindle | NOOK | Kobo

Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz

The book opens with our heroine Clover Greene finding out the most terrifying news: with three days notice, Clover is expected to host Thanksgiving dinner for her difficult family. Clover owns a nursery (plants, not babies) and her 17-year-old employee Ruthie suggests her Dad would would be a good fake date. I honestly dare you to read the first chapter of this book and not be completely won over by the witty banter and general hilarity. Erick and Clover decide to fake-date with benefits, because they’re both adults and why not. It’s Tiffany Reisz, so those sex scenes are both plentiful and scorching. However, it’s the scene at the Thanksgiving table that will make this book a classic. After years of judgment, Clover finally unloads on all the family members who make her feel miserable and unworthy. It is a smackdown of epic proportions, more delicious than any Thanksgiving side dish or dessert.

Gold Medal Thanksgiving

Kindle | NOOK | Kobo
Currently $0.99!

Vincent’s Thanksgiving Date by R. Cooper

Is there any plotline in romance that is more delicious than extroverted hero pulling introverted hero out of his shell? Vincent is so shy that he barely talks to the neighbors in his apartment building. But in the days before Thanksgiving, outgoing neighbor Cory reaches out to Vincent for help--he needs a ride to the grocery story since he’ll be hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. Of course Cory invites Vincent to stop in at the Friendsgiving potluck. The story is told from Vincent’s point of view, showing how his desperate urge to connect is overwhelmed by the totality of his shyness and anxiety. But Cory is not deterred, and it’s lovely the way he treats Vincent with such gentleness and care. You know those romances where you’re just grinning the entire time, knowing these two people are going to find love? That’s Vincent’s Thanksgiving Date and it’s freaking adorable. Vincent tells Cory, “You’ve ruined me for other Thanksgivings.”  My grinchy Thanksgiving heart is ruined, too.

Platinum Medal Thanksgiving

*adds books to TBR pile* Damn you, Jen! Though I did read Brown's last year and really enjoyed it, and of course I loved Reisz's, too. But the others are going onto the pile now!

Have you read any of these books? Do you know of any others set around Thanksgiving?

Or, better yet, any holiday romances that are not focused on Christmas and Christian celebrations? Because that's definitely not the only things celebrated, even just here in the U.S.! 😃


Until Next Time,

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