Nowadays, Santa’s sleigh couldn’t carry all the titles that appear like magic. There are Christmas cozies and Christmas thrillers, Christmas fantasies and Christmas westerns, Christmas science fiction and Christmas ghost stories, Christmas comics and Christmas comedies, and especially Christmas romances. So many romances — from trysts as pure as the driven snow to X-rated erotica that gives a whole new meaning to some guy in a red suit shouting, “Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!”
We’ll call it Rule 34B: If it exists, there is porn of it involving a partridge in a pear tree.
Fiction writers love Christmas. The whole Christmas season. Now please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
But it surely has something to do with the advent of the e-reader. Among the top 500 best-selling books in all formats on Amazon last week, Christmas was the single most popular subject. (The CEO of Amazon.com, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post.) More than 35 titles make reference to the holiday — usually with a pun more rancid than last year’s eggnog. And many are self-published e-books, which points to the industry’s fundamental transformation over the last decade. In the olden days, manuscripts had to find an agent and then a publisher before the elves could print and ship hard copies to brick-and-mortar bookstores. Under those conditions, most of these Christmas stories would have been stuck in the North Pole. But now — as e-books — they soar over the gatekeepers and distribution hurdles and collectively sell tens of thousands of copies a week.
I’m making a list and checking it twice. It’s obvious which ones are naughty and nice. Some of these titles — offered for as little as 99 cents — will inspire you to grumble, “Bah, humbug.” But here are 12 books of Christmas that sold at least 1,200 copies last week:
1. “Jingle Balls,” by Vanessa Waltz. I warned you there would be bad wordplay, and that’s just the start in this romance full of stockings well hung.
2. “Eating Her Christmas Cookies,” by Alina Jacobs. The wordplay, it only gets worse.
3. “The Christmas Scorpion,” by Lee Child. The author of the best-selling Jack Reacher novels has no trouble finding a traditional publisher, but this is a short story, available exclusively from Delacorte Press as an e-book, which is a whole new revenue stream for popular novelists. In this story, Reacher gets snowed in on Christmas Eve with a notorious assassin on the loose.
4. “Scrooge Me Again,” by Milly Taiden. Book 18 in the Paranormal Dating Agency series tells the heartwarming tale of a woman who finds love on another planet with a lion shape-shifter, which is no more unlikely than flying reindeer.
5. “A Baby For Christmas,” by Layla Valentine and Holly Rayner. These two enterprising authors write novels about billionaires, who are a dime a dozen in the romance genre. This volume, part of their Baby Surprises series, follows “a gorgeous, Christmas-loving billionaire” who is “like a gleeful blizzard of holiday cheer,” because who wouldn’t love that?
6. “Christmas Cake,” by Celia Aaron. The author of this collection of sweet holiday stories warns that she “is not responsible for cavities or sugar highs.”
7. “Christmas Wish,” by Chiah Wilder. In Book 12 of the Insurgents Motorcycle Club Romance series, a vet finds a woman living on his property with a tiny son named Timmy. God bless them, every one!
8. “All I Want for Christmas . . . Is My Sister’s Boyfriend,” by Brooke Blaine and Ella Frank. There’s always one person in the family who is so hard to shop for.
9. “The Christmas Dragon’s Love,” by Zoe Chant. Book No. 3 in the Christmas Valley Shifters series is about a man-dragon who falls in love with a professional dog-sitter. Frankly, I think he could do better; I mean, come on: He’s a man-dragon.
10. “Reindeer & Robberies,” by Hope Callaghan. Book 15 in the Cruise Ship Christian Cozy Mysteries series gets extra points for putting Grandma on the cover. The navy blazer completely covers her six-pack abs.
11. “His Gift,” by Ashlee Price, is a Billionaire Bad Boy Christmas Romance about a man who needs Santa to bring him a shirt.
12. “Decked,” by Susi Hawke and Crista Crown. Squeaking in at No. 500, this is a M/M romance about male pregnancy, the latest in the Team A.L.P.H.A. series. The North Pole will never be the same.