Holiday Romance Without the Schmaltz

Five Golden Rings by Jeffe KennedyWhen I set out to write an erotic holiday story, in answer to a call from Carina Press for an anthology they put together for the 2013 holiday season, I wasn’t at all sure what the story should be. I mean, I’m a Christmas-lover. I’m into the whole thing – decorating, baking, gift-giving. I love the sparkle of the season. But the Christmas romances I’d read never worked for me.

I had to think about why they didn’t thrill me and I came up with three reasons:

  1. for me, the Christmas holidays are about family and a love story is more about the one-on-one (or two)
  2. the schmaltz. Much as I love the sentimental aspects of both Christmas and romance, piled on top of each other they get just a bit too much for me
  3. most of the holiday romances I’d read were sweet – which is so not me

So that got me started. Fortunately, I didn’t have to worry about writing sweet, because hello, erotic romance! A lot of people don’t have family on the holidays, or can’t stand to be around them, so I thought about a heroine who deliberately takes an anti-Christmas vacation. She takes the time off, but she goes to Cozumel for fun in the sun. The Caribbean location helped amp down the Christmas schmaltz for me. Then it occurred to me that a kinky game of The Twelve Days of Christmas would be super fun.

Boom! FIVE GOLDEN RINGS was born.

Here’s a little, mostly safe for work excerpt:

When she found Miguel at the patio restaurant, she saw he had changed also, out of his sharp lawyer’s suit and into an open shirt of muted blue and a sports jacket. He rose to greet her, kissing her on the cheek, and held her chair when she sat. A grave busboy poured her water from the bottle on the table and she peered at it, trying to read the label.

“Guaranteed clean,” Miguel reassured her. “Oro serves only bottled water, although we are on our own well, which we have tested weekly.”

“Only weekly?” She arched a brow.

“More stringent than U.S. legal standards.”

“I’m sure you’d know.”

“I do. Would you care for wine?”

“You know, I think I’ll stick with another margarita—don’t want to mix up my liquors.”

“I’ll do the same then.” He signaled the waiter, who produced two astonishingly large margaritas, decorated with limes and pineapple chunks marching up the pole of a gold foil umbrella. “Merry Christmas, Roo.”

She wrinkled her nose at him. “Merry Christmas, Mickey.”

“Call me that again and I’ll spank you.”

“Ooh, saucy.”

He didn’t smile back, but gave her a stern look that made her shiver. “Do you enjoy being spanked?”

She focused on her margarita. “I haven’t been spanked since I was a kid. That was not sexy.”

“The way I do it is.”

“I’m not sleeping with you tonight, if that’s what you’re thinking. We just met.” Now, tomorrow night…

“Sleeping with you is decidedly not what I have in mind. I intend for you to be awake and fully aware of everything I plan to do to you.”

That got her attention. That and the hot desire in his eyes. The warm night, the tropical flowers, the surf crashing right below—all conspired to make her throw caution to the Mexican breeze. This would be a hell of a vacation. Fuck Greg.

“Tell me more.” She nibbled on a slice of pineapple.

He nodded at the menu. “Decide what you want to eat and I will.”

She was starving. Eagerly she flipped through the menu. “I’m having the most fattening, decadent thing on here. Oh my god—lobster nachos? Score!”

“And here I thought you’d order the filet mignon.”

“Nope. I’m indulging. For the next two weeks it’s nothing but sin and fun for me.”

“That fits my plans well.”

“So, speak to me of these mysterious plans.”

“Tomorrow is the first day of Christmas.”

“Like in the song?”

“Yes,” his lips twitched in amusement. “Though it’s an old tradition. For each of the twelve days of Christmas, we will indulge in something…special.”

“Something sexual?”


“Do I get to know what it will be?”

“No, these will be surprises for you. But you have to agree to accept these gifts with an open heart. Each day I’ll give you something. I will spend time with you as I can—”

“When you’re not fighting with people.”

“Exactly. And in the evening, we will indulge ourselves.”


He laughed that warm, open laugh of his. Like gold and sunshine. “No other questions or terms?”

“Nope.” She grinned at him over the rim of her margarita. “Sign me up. Twelve Days of Sexy Vacation Christmas.”

“You’d make a terrible lawyer.”

“Maybe.” She slid her thigh against his under the narrow table. “But I can sell you anything—and I know a good deal when I see it. Sometimes endless negotiating gets old, don’t you think?”

“Yes.” He put a hand on her bare knee and she warmed, heating with a delightful flutter. “I like it much better when I have things my way.”

“Mmm. Do you plan to have me your way, also?”

“I do.” His fingers slid higher, caressing the soft skin of her inner thigh. “In every way.”

“Maybe we should get started tonight after all.” She held her breath, hoping he’d go higher. Instead he smiled, tantalizing, and took his touch away. She frowned at him and he shook a finger at her.

“The game has begun, Roo, and along with it, the anticipation. Your only responsibility is to receive.”

“Maybe I should have negotiated more.” She pretended to pout. The waiter set down a platter of the most decadent nachos she’d ever laid eyes on. “Wow.”

“See? All good things come to those who wait. Enjoy yourself.”

This would be good for her. No-strings-attached sex. None of the usual getting-to-know-each-other dinners and laborious conversations over meeting families or blending friend-groups. Just sun and kinky fun. She scooped up a chip piled with fresh lobster and dripping with cheese, then winked at him. “I intend to.”


Holiday Romance Without the Schmaltz — 8 Comments

  1. I’m with your on Christmas romances, but I’ve never analyzed the reasons. In fact (spoiler alert), my November post meanders through my thoughts on Christmas romances, but doesn’t delve into the analytical. I think you might have hit the nails on the heads (elves on the heads?).

  2. I guess I’m somewhere in between the schmaltz and the sexy. I love the spicy stuff, but I’m still a sucker for a little sweet sentiment. I like that there’s a story for every taste in the romance genre, and in our little group here!

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