Most of the books I read specifically to review come through NetGalley and are ebooks. But when I saw Harlequin had a collection of Australian Christmas short stories coming out – and when I saw how gorgeous the cover is – I wrote to them to ask if I could have a paperback. And it is really as lovely in real life as I had hoped (I love a gold foil detailed cover!)!
This is a collection of short festive romance stories from five Australian authors, all set around our summer christmas. While I love a bit of snow in a cosy christmas romance, there was a something a bit special about being able to recognise our experience in these ones. The stories range from super sweet to pretty sexy, with some covering pretty serious issues and even a bit of a super natural twist in there.
My favourite story was probably the first one in the collection – Under Christmas Stars by Alissa Callen. It was very sweet – very much the Australian version of the UK or small town USA based Christmas romances I love at this time of year, and it all felt so familiar:
Small-town teacher Freya George is determined to make up for last year’s disastrous Christmas. This year she will stop at nothing to ensure that she and the Woodlea community have the best holiday season ever. But from the moment Freya hangs the first piece of mistletoe, her plans unravel faster than red Christmas ribbon…
My other favourite was 12 Daves of Christmas by Juliet Madison, which was a bit more Christmas adjacent, and was the story of a writer who sets off on a road trip with her grandmother’s ghost – it was very funny and also quite moving.
I also thought this was a perfect way to get a feel for some Aussie authors I hadn’t come across before – I would definitely keep an eye out for more of their work.
Giving a rating for a short story collection is always tricky, because obviously you’re going to like some stories more than others, but overall I gave this a solid 3.5 Christmas stars out of 5, maybe even 4. I definitely recommend this for any fellow Australian cosy Christmas romance fans keen to read something with the extra charm/comfort factor of feeling familiar to our own experience.