Letters to the Santa of Romance

Imagine there was a Santa of Romance. He’ll need more time for preparation than Santa Claus, so his gifts probably won’t be in this year’s stockings. But you might stumble across them on a review site in May, on a bookstore’s shelves in August, or perhaps on a friend’s blog in November. Imagine he and his elves (those that have ink-stained fingers) would do their best to fulfill your wishes…. Here are some of the AAR staff’s wishes for the Santa of Romance.

Dear Santa of Romance,
Could I please have some heroes that break the mold? Short heroes, blond heroes, heroes with a profession, chubby heroes, non-aristocratic heroes, less-than-rich heroes — any of these would be deeply appreciated. A combination of the above would even be better!


Not that there’s anything wrong with Regency England, I like it very much, but Edwardian England was an interesting and glittering time too. How about setting some more romances in Newport in the Gilded Age, or even pre-revolutionary Russia? How about the court at Versailles, or the Habsburg empire?

Could you please arrange to have some romances — contemporary romances with not a trace of suspense — set in some different parts of the world? I’d love to see a romance set on Santorini or Crete. And how about one set on Malta? What about Berlin or Amsterdam? Oh, and Mexico City might be nice as well. But please, Santa of Romance, in addition to no suspense, could these books also include no billionaires, no secret babies, and no sheiks?


Could you make it so that Susan Johnson would wake up one morning and say, “My goodness it’s been many years since I wrote a book with footnotes! I shall return to the thrilling days of yesteryear and write a gorgeous, long, wonderful romance featuring really adult characters and lots and lots of footnotes!” It would also be nice if somehow you could make it possible for Judith Ivory to write again.


Could you please give current romance authors amnesia regarding Regency England and make them forget it existed for a couple of years? Instead give them an inexplicable urge to write books set in Eastern Europe and Russia. Also, could you convince publishers that the earlier 20th century would be a great time period to promote?

Santa, I’ve been pining for a good Alpha Jerk hero, à la Sebastian Verlaine, for so long. Would you grant my Christmas wish?

Finally, and I don’t mean to be greedy or overtax your powers, but if you can’t make the Curtises write Cat’s story, could you direct their muse to some other deserving and talented author? This character deserves to be set free this Christmas, to live and have his own adventure.

Thank you so much,

Could you please ask authors to be more creative and think of better plots instead of relying on pages and pages of lovemaking — tell them to get back to the story!
Could certain authors (not naming names, but you know who you are) think back to the type of books that made you famous and write something similar instead of the books you have been producing for years that have taken you off so many readers’ auto-buy lists?


I’ve missed beloved authors who have seemed to disappear or who I no longer recognize. Could you please return, in their original form, Penelope Williamson, Laura Leone, Josie Litton, Gaelen Foley, Patricia Gaffney, and Judith McNaught?

And Santa, you must know how much my heart delights in a meaty, character driven contemporary romance (without a bit of suspense) such as Remember The Time by Annette Reynolds. Can you convince more romance authors to take the challenge of writing in-depth characters in realistic settings wherein the leads have a lot of interaction?

And those European historicals — can I have a few more that feature no dukes, viscounts, earls, lords, or barons and give me more like Jack Devlin from Lisa Kleypas’s Suddenly You? Or how about an even earlier time with hard working heroes such as Rhys from Madeline Hunter’s By Design?


Could you please bring me romances that feature heroines who aren’t saintly, but smart and likable and heroes who are dark, yet truly heroic? I would like characters with depth, situations that are realistic, and strong romantic tension.
I don’t want to be too greedy, but I would also like to see a variety of settings – Medieval England or France, Colonial America, Egypt, late 19th and early 20th century anywhere. And like Rachel, I wouldn’t mind an alpha jerk or two.

Thank you Santa,

I have been so good this year, and weren’t the cookies I made for you delicious? So I have just a few small favors to ask.
Can your elves abandon the fifty million paranormal shapeshifting vampire werewolf stories they are working on? Can they just bag any story with back cover copy that starts: “They were called…THE OTHERS”?

Also, small towns, their sheriffs, and the heroine who made it big but now must return have had a great run. Let’s give them a rest and give us more romances in the city.
Please also fill my stocking with good, juicy American Historical romances. Colonial. Revolutionary. Civil War. I have visions of wagon trains dancing in my head.

And one final request: I don’t give a &%$# if heroes say “Jesus,” but for the love of all that is holy, please don’t have anyone ever spell it “Jeezus” or “Jaysus” ever, ever again.


I’d really like some sweeping historicals that intelligently combine adventure, intrigue, and romance, in the vein of the Outlander series. Some likeable heroines would also be nice. And if you could somehow produce a couple of great paranormal authors, I’d be most appreciative. Actually, I’m not picky about genre as long as a book is really well-written, so if you could just gift a few lucky authors with a nice dose of intelligence, I’d be quite happy.

Wishing you a safe flight,

I would love to see some historical settings besides Regency and Victorian England. I would especially like to see Russia, continental Europe, colonial America, Australia, South America — there is a whole wide world out there. And does everything have to be a series? I would love to read more stand-alone books – especially paranormals. Also, could you make the titles and covers a little less ridiculous? I’d love to be able to buy books in an actual store without worrying about running into my clients!


What’s your letter to the Santa of Romance?

-Rike Horstmann

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24 Responses to Letters to the Santa of Romance

  1. AAR Sandy says:

    Rike, it is raining and depressing here (no snow like everybody else is having) and your post helped put a holiday-ish smile on my face. Thanks!

  2. Carla Kelly says:

    Dear Santa,

    I wish editors and publishers would pay attention when I send them synopsis after synopsis of other settings and eras and almost beg them to let me write something besides Regencies! Please don’t let the blame for nothing but Regencies rest solely on the shoulders of writers, some of whom – probably more than you know – are yearning to write something else. There are even some eras – the Indian-fighting army of the post civil war decades – where I am professionally and academically cutting edge. Do my editors care? Nope. Write another Regency, Carla.

    And Santa, we know it’s not all lovemaking. Not in real life, either, and what we write should reflect, to some extent, the reality of typical lives, else how would we identify? To me, that identification is a fundamental of literature.

    I remember one short hero of mine, Jesse the doc in The Wedding Journey, where my editor specificaly insisted he be taller. I’ve had a couple of stoutish heroes, so I’m not sure how they slipped by the editor. Just lucky, I guess.

    What I’m saying, Santa, is we do try. Maybe you’ll never know just how hard we try.

    Carla Kelly

  3. Wendy says:

    I would love to see more Edwardians – so I second Ellen’s Dear Santa letter (FYI – Nicola Cornick had one out with HH earlier this summer – The Last Rake In London).

    Dear Santa,
    Please have Maggie Osborne come to her senses and come out of retirement. Yeah, I know she wanted to spend more time with her family, but I need her way more than they do.


  4. Elaine S says:

    For those of you who want something set in pre-revolutionary Russia, and have exhausted Dinah Dean, can I suggest “A Space of the Heart” by Patricia Wright (published as “Ilena” in the UK). There are copies on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It is firmly on my keeper shelf 30 years after I first read it and is set in England, Russia and Ukraine 1852 – 1855. A wonderful story with truly memorable characters. There was a second generation follow on (sorry, don’t have my old copy and can’t recall the name) when the son of the hero was involved in the revolution.

  5. MJ says:

    Andi writes:

    so if you could just gift a few lucky authors with a nice dose of intelligence, I’d be quite happy.

    I’m sure authors would be quite happy if he would do the same for a few lucky reviewers.

    I’m sick of paranormal, sick of suspense. I’m not suggesting publishers should quit publishing them because they sell, but lord, I’d love to have more alternatives.

  6. Karly says:

    Dear Santa,

    Please make Jennifer Crusie forget her pledge to not write straight contemporaries anymore. I know she wants to focus on romantic suspense, and non-romantic suspense, and paranormals, and collaborations, and everything else under the sun, but I’m telling you that I really, desperately, urgently need a contemporary Crusie for Christmas this year.

    Please Santa? I’ll be good…



  7. Rike says:

    Carla, I’m sure none of us here think it’s only the writers who insist on setting their books exclusively, in the Regency, the Victorian Age and medieval Scotland. When we wish for a wider range of settings (or types of heroes and heroines, etc.), we wish that authors write those books, but also that agents and publishers are courageous enough to publish them, and that readers in turn leave the well-trodden paths and pick something different in the bookstore.
    I know there are books off the beaten track out there. I buy them gladly when I stumble across them. I just wish there were more of them.
    I would love to read a post-civil-war historical romance by you!

  8. Aemelia says:

    Dear Santa,

    I’ll keep it simple, I would really like fewer Dukes and Earls in my reads and to see some hot Vikings, Pirates and Cowboys! I would like to see more books set in the Americas’ or in countries other than England. I do like the Regencies and Victorian set books, but I really need some change in my historical reads.

  9. Lynda X says:

    Dear Santa,
    My wish is simple. Please speed up the imagination and writing abilities of my favorite authors. Let them be inspired, as they were in their best books, the ones I reread all the time and give them such tranquil lives that they have the time to write. Once a year is NOT enough for Carla Kelly, Loretta Chase, Lisa Marie Rice, as well as the others. You know who they are. I know Mrs. Claus reads whole passages to you, and you are probably a romance reader yourself! Also, as a little stocking-stuffer, please give editors a dash of daring and a smidgen of obsessive compulsion about correct grammar, spelling, and usage.

  10. Zoe Archer says:

    Dear Readers,

    I’m not Santa. He’s a little busy right now filling last-minute orders and sneaking peppermint chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

    What I *can* tell you is that, if you are ready for a change from yet more vampire dukes at Almack’s, I might be able to make some of your Christmas dreams come true. Okay, maybe not right away, but early in 2010. We’re talking Victorian-era Mongolia, Greece, Canada and, yes, England, too. And nary a duke, viscount or earl to be seen.

    Oh–Santa’s calling. He’s demanding more rocky road brownies to keep him fueled for the week ahead.

    Happy Holidays,

  11. Rike says:

    Zoe, that sounds promising! I will definitely be on the lookout!

  12. Evangeline says:

    I’ll have to second Zoe and throw my hat into the ring. Here comes non-traditional settings.

  13. SandyH says:

    Dear Santa,

    Could I please have more science fiction romances like the ones by S.L. Viehl or Linnea Sinclair? I am really, really tired of paranormals. I don’t mind regencies but maybe more that are realistic to the time period. What about the Vikings, Romans or something set in India or China? Please, please.

  14. Suzanna says:

    Dear Santa

    Please give Elizabeth Elliott and Lisa Valdez lots of inspiration and good publishers!

    PS to LinnieGayl : Louise Allen’s “The Earl’s intended bride” is set on Malta, and “A most unconventional courtship” is set on Corfu.

  15. LinnieGayl says:

    Oh, I’d definitely like to echo Suzanna with regards to Elizabeth Elliott. It’s been way too long a wait…I’ll check out those two books (Malta & Corfu, hooray!!). Thanks, Suzanna.

  16. Chez says:

    Dear Santa, I’ll definitely second the writing of Cats book from The Windflower … please, please. I also am feeling a bit mean as I personally wouldn’t read an American historical, but completely understand that others would like these to make a comeback. What I would wish for are more nice, genuine heroines that aren’t TSTL. They don’t all have to be kickarse, do they? I especially would like them in the paranormal genre (which I don’t ever want to see end). Thanks Santa .. Chez

  17. Sherry Thomas says:

    Dear Santa,

    Please make me write faster. I have a half-complete contemporary set in Lake Como, and a half-complete SF romance set in space, and a martial art epic saga set half in China. Please make it that I complete/overhaul at least one of them in 2009.

    Also, I write non-Regency historicals with unusual characters (one hero is actually half-German, which I never tell anyone–so let’s keep it between us on the down low), and every last one of those characters has a profession/vocation. So if everyone who wants something different buys a copy of my book, I’d be rich. Rich! (But sorry, I can’t do short heroes. I just can’t. My husband is 5’9″ and so hot but the most I can bring myself to do is 5’10″ for secondary heroes.)

    And since I never ask for anything for myself (ha!), could you give Laura Kinsale a nudge and have her publish that finished manuscript she’s been using as a doorstop? And please have Judith Ivory come out of her undisclosed location with four books ready to come out back to back in 2009.

    Thanks, Santa


    P.S. I’ll be the one who leaves out dim sum for you. I’m sure you must be fed up of cookies by now. ;-)

  18. Dianna Robey says:

    Dear Santa,

    I would love to see romance novels have characters that are in their 30/40 and don’t concentrate on the kids I am tired of romance with single mothers finding a man.

    I also really enjoy time travel/Futuristic romances but would love to see travel to other historical timeframes other than the old west and 1800′s England.

    BTW, I have been a good girl this year.


  19. SusiB says:

    Dear Santa, could you please magically erase all TSTL behavior from romance novels? That is something I could really do without. Illogical plots, too. And while you’re at it – if there are pirates and vikings, don’t let them be wimps. I do not wish to read about a pirate captain who abducts a woman and proceeds to decorate her cabin on his ship with doilies! Thanks, Susi

  20. Cindy W says:

    (I am so loving thisn post)

    Dear Santa:

    -Can you please make Lisa Valdez’s Patience really be released?
    -Can you make more Viking stories like Josie Litton’s?
    -Can you please make more stand alones? (I should not be afraid to buy a book in a book store for fear of it being number 3 in a series)
    -Can you please get rid of big misunderstandings and bi***y heriones?
    -Can I have more unique books like Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran?
    -Last but not least, I want more characters that I remember, like The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt, very few authors “get me” like that.

    Thank you Santa.
    Cindy W

  21. Cindy W says:

    Oh and Santa, I’d like to remember to hit spell check more often!

  22. Caroline says:

    Dear Santa of Romance,

    could you please bring me more books in which hero and heroine are truly on an equal footing? I am so very tired of novels full of lip service to the supposed strength, courage and intelligence of the heroine that still make her only second best at most to the overbearing hero.

    Also, could you please send me more medieval heroes that are not knights and lords of their own castle? For some reason, the heroine who holds a castle never seems to fall in love with her trusty steward, the faithful captain of her men-at-arms or the lovely minstrel although they always seem nicer than the annoying ex-Templar she usually ends up with…

    Thank you in advance!


  23. Teresa Bunch says:

    I wish there were more Historicals in the tradition of Roberta Gellis The Rope Dancer, or something simiilar to Anya Seton’s Katherine. I don;’t mind a ton of regencies and paranormals, my pet peeve is covers. Could someone please do away with those half a head/half body covers? I can’t stand them. Also the contemporary romance cover with legs in stilettos either sitting or Walking with one leg behind. I’ve skipped plenty of books with those.I don’t mind the big mis, as long as everyone gets over it.

  24. Pingback: Love Letters For Her

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