It’s that time of year again — Christmas romance is everywhere, novels, films and, of course, Hallmark movies. For those of us who are Jewish, the season can make us feel like the kid who didn’t get an invitation to the birthday party. Sure, we write a lot of your favorite Christmas romantic comedies — Holiday Inn, White Christmas, Elf — but where are all the Hanukkah romance novels and novellas?

I have some good news — Hanukkah romances actually do exist, and there are some brand new, own voices Hanukkah novels out this year. That is not to say there aren’t great romances featuring Jewish main characters — K.J. Charles, Rose Lerner, Felicia Grossman, Zoe Archer, Kennedy Ryan, Shira Glassman, Xan West, Roan Parrish and E.M. Lindsey have romances featuring at least one Jewish lover. But what we’re after are romances specifically about Hanukkah, and while there are finally a number to choose from thanks to Jewish authors, the list is heavy on independently published fare. Don’t let that dissuade you — these are mighty fine romances, and some include excellent queer and disabled representation. Here are eight romances — one for every night of Hanukkah.

NEW HANUKKAH ROMANCES

 The Matzah Ball
by Jean Meltzer

This 2021 romance for Hanukkah is an enemies-to-lovers tale about a nice Jewish girl who has made career out of being a top-rated Christmas romance novelist has some tasty irony baked (or fried?) right in. When her publisher requests an actual Hanukkah novel, she reaches for inspiration and — bupkes. She decides to hunt for ideas at the Matzah Ball, a dance that some Jewish community centers hold at the end of Hanukkah. Who else should she run into than her old nemesis from sleepaway camp? And wouldn’t you know it, they’re as antagonistic as ever … or are they? In addition to being an own voices novel hailed for getting the details of observant Jewish life just right, The Matzah Ball has been noted for its disabled representation: the female main character lives with myalgic encephalomyelitis.

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 Shine a Light
by Rebecca Crowley

You get not one, but two new Hannukah romances for 2021. We also have this bubbly tale of a young Jewish woman who falls for the cute firefighter next door when he saves her from her burning apartment. They meet again when they are both mistakenly assigned to direct the Hanukkah play and she learns he’s the rabbi’s son who left seminary to fight fires. Is this the first Jewish firefighter in romance? Perhaps, but even if he’s not — who can resist such a setup?

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THE HANUKKAH BACKLIST

 Recommended for You
by Laura Silverman

This sweet teen rom-com from 2020 is about two bookstore employees who go mano a mano to earn the holiday bonus for selling the most books. Shoshanna has plenty of problems — her moms are fighting instead of making Hanukkah, and her beloved car is on its last cylinder. She can’t fix her moms, but the bonus is just what she needs to keep her car on the road. Enter Jake Kaplan, cute, smug and — gasp! — not a reader, but somehow still her toughest competition in book sales. Will they find themselves on the same page before the holidays are over?

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 To Touch the Light
by E.M. Lindsey

This deeply moving love story between a transgender chef who is coming into his own and the Russian professor who is taking refuge in his kitchen as a dishwasher is touching and tender. Like a lot of Lindsey’s stories, there’s excellent disabled representation in this story of a man who is losing his sight but sees his beloved better than anyone else, and the way that community and found family can support us so we can be open to love.

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 Lighting the Flames
by Sarah Wendell

If Sarah Wendell’s name seems familiar, it’s because she’s the romantic genius behind the podcast and website, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. When she realized how few Hanukkah romances existed, she decided to write her own and created this second-chance romance about former sleepaway camp best friends reuniting as adults.

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 The Remaking of Corbin Wale
by Roan Parrish

Many of Parrish’s romance novels include Jewish characters, and several include the celebration of Hanukkah, including Small Change and Better Than People, but The Remaking of Corbin Wale moves Hanukkah closer to the center and uses it as a way for the baker hero to woo his shy neurodivergent love interest. For anyone who doesn’t think that Hanukkah holds magic, the romance of these two men connecting over sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) will change your mind.

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 A Candle for Nick
by Lorna Michaels

Lorna Michaels is hailed as a pioneer in bringing own voices Jewish stories to category romance. This old-school romance has everything you’d expect — a doctor and a secret baby — and adds one more, a Hanukkah miracle.

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 Let it Shine
by Alyssa Cole

I have often wondered why historical romance is so fixated on the Regency period in England, with occasional detours to Victorian England and the Golden Age in America (which are actually the same time period) when there are so many other, equally fascinating eras of world history to explore, which Alyssa Cole is famous for. This engaging novella takes place during the Civil Rights Movement and brings together an African-American civil rights activist and a Jewish boxer whose family escaped Nazi Europe. As they fall in love, they explore their commonalities and differences and share their first Hanukkah in a moving scene. Although Cole isn’t Jewish, the exquisite details reveal she did her homework.

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Did we miss your favorite Hanukkah romance? Let us know in the comments.