Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly



Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

(or Jenre has a bit of a moan about a sad lack of m/m historical Christmas anthologies)

Back in the days before I read m/m romance stories I spent many years reading m/f historical romances. In particular I used to love the Christmas anthologies that publishers such as Berkley or Avon produce where three or four authors would write Christmas novella length stories, sometime interlinked, sometimes not, and they would be published together. The date for release was often (and could still be) the 1st of December, but I would save mine to read in the couple of days before Christmas, so I could really get into the spirit of the stories.

If there’s one thing I miss, now that I read mostly m/m, it’s those Christmas anthologies because, as far as I know (and do correct me on this if I’m wrong) there isn’t an m/m equivalent of those historical Christmas anthologies. There are anthologies of m/m contemporary Christmas stories, and I often buy them to get my Christmas story fix. There are also m/m historical Christmas one off stories, such as those often featured in the DSP Christmas ‘Daily Dose’ stories, but they are few and far between and when you add up how much you’ve spent buying four of those stories it often amounts to a lot of money.

No, what I would really love to see published is the equivalent of those Avon anthologies. Four stories of about 100 or so pages all set in Britain in the past (and often the Regency period). Why, you might ask? What is it about historical Christmas stories that I like?

Firstly, I love reading about the simpler Christmas celebrations from years ago, where fun would be had collecting holly, pine cones and other bits of trees to decorate the house, rather than the shiny plastic we get these days. Where eggnog and spiced wine, mince pies and roast goose were compulsory rather than a bit of seasonal fun, and presents were handmade and personal – after all our Regency gent can never have too many monogrammed handkerchiefs.

Secondly, according to the Regency romance novels I’ve read it always snowed at Christmas during the early 19th century. This allows for being wrapped up in furs, taking part in lots of snowball fights and going on sleigh rides through the British countryside. What do you mean that’s sheer romanticism and probably never happened?!

Finally, Christmas is a time when you are forced in close proximity with your family and therefore any secrets are difficult to hide. Secrets such as the fact that you’re a man and you’ve been carrying on with your valet/best friend’s brother/groundskeeper/local farmer’s son. It adds a bit of confusion and spice to the holiday period, and makes for lots of delicious scenarios such as hiding in cupboards together in order to get some ‘quiet time’.

Ah, even writing about it now, makes my heart go all aflutter, and gives me a strong yearning to revisit my Christmas romances of old!

So how about it, you writers of gay historical romance? Why not get together and produce an anthology that I can anticipate as much as I did with those Avon books? It’s a bit late for this year, but surely next year is a possibility!

In real life Jenre is a shy, capable, slightly frazzled wife, Church administrator and Mother of four who spends far too much time printing out and folding leaflets; picking up stuff and putting it away; and dealing with the ginger terrors (her cats).  In cyber life she is a bossy, opinionated blogger and reviewer, with a weakness for pimping her favourite books and authors.  She has been known to be ‘refreshingly honest’.

Jenre will be giving away this lovely rocking horse Christmas Tree ornament to one lucky commenter. All winners will be posted on Christmas Day.

The BONUS BUMPER PRIZE QUESTION (don’t answer this yet – write them down and I’ll ask you to email them in on Christmas Eve.)

6. In “A Christmas Carol” who was dead, to begin with?

48 Responses

  1. Well.put me down for getting excited if the submissions call ever came. My Regency boys (minus their anachronistic blizzard) would galdly wave their monogrammed hankies.

    SRSLY, this is a great idea.

  2. That certainly makes me want to write one! 🙂

  3. Thank you for bringing this up. Every year among my stocking stuffers for my mother and my sister are those Christmas anthologies you speak of. And before I started reading m/m, there was usually one tucked away for me as well. It’s that most wonderful time of the year, full of memories of Christmas past and present. And all of us reading those after the Christmas dinner is one of mine.

    I look forward to the Christmas stories every year and the Anthologies like Men Under The Mistletoe are a must buy. But you are right, I would love to have a historical m/m version as well. Christmas Wishes by J. P. Bowie fell into my hands and I didn’t realize it was set in 1922 until I started into it.

    As you say, I love the reminders of a simpler Christmas, their decorations and traditions. If you need another cheerleader, or bell ringer for this idea, please include me. I would be first in line to buy it for my stocking. And a huge thank you for all the historical authors out there for the year of lovely stories. You are appreciated.

    • What a delightful memory, Melanie! I used to wait until everything was sorted for Christmas Eve and then sit down to read the first story in the anthology. I’d then space the others out over the next four days so I could savour them.

      I’m always pleased when I come across an individual m/m historical romance story, but I would love to have a whole anthology to look forward to. I’m happy for you to join the team, although there may only be two of us in it at the moment :).

  4. I’d love to see a Christmas historical m/m anthology! Of my three historical stories, two are set at Christmas in the 1920s (and there will be another coming from me in the Speak its Name advent calendar) so clearly, my muse likes a good old-fashioned Christmas! 😉

    • Yay! Another person for the list :). There’s a lot of nostalgia attached to these historical Christmas stories which is why I think the m/f ones are so popular. Hopefully that would translate the m/m stories too.

      I shall look forward to your advent calendar story.

      • I just remembered that my advent calendar from last year was a Christmas story! I think it was called Christmas at the grange but it was not nearly the length and breadth you are wnating.


  5. Agreed. Your “bit of a moan” is right on target … I’d love to see more gay and lesbian historical romances in general, and a Christmas anthology would rock! So … let’s *do* something about it! If we start now, put out a call for submissions and target a few publishers with the idea, we might be able to make one available for next year. Email me: I’m serious!

    • Hi Jeanette
      Hmmm, your comment only just appeared to me here. Sorry for the delay in replying.

      I was thinking more along the lines of putting out the idea and letting other people run with it :). I’m not an author or publisher but by all means if people want to get together and organise something, I’ll happily cheer on from the sidelines.

      • This is so exciting. I was thinking about the publishers that have anthologies coming out. Dreamspinner, MLR, and Carina Press all have Christmas collections. Perhaps they would want a historical one to go with them. But I just bought a few books from a publisher that is new to me, Musa Publishing? I think that they are a uk publisher and I didn’t see a collection there. Just a few stories. Does anyone know that house?

  6. See what you’ve done Jen? You’ve started a trend. Go you. 🙂 Next year we’ll be innundated with historical Christmas anthologies.

    There is something about the classic British Christmas that probably movies, books and television have even made a tad nostalgic to us across the pond. As you said, goose and plum pudding and fruit cake (holy hell, sounds like my childhood – I miss that). I wish my kid would eat goose, I should cook one anyway, just for me. I tend to find some historicals a bit serious, but if it was done with a light festive hand I can see great appeal in reading some m/m historical Christmas, perhaps more for the setting than the romance. We shall have to wait and see what we get next Christmas. Perhaps if you are very good, Santa will grant your wish.

    • Next year we’ll be innundated with historical Christmas anthologies

      Well as long as there’s at least one, Tam, I’ll be happy :).

      The m/f Christmas anthologies always had a bit of a mix of stories, so some were more serious (Mary Balogh always used to do some delightfully angsty stories) and some were more fun and lighthearted. It would be good if there could be an m/m version of that too.

      Perhaps if you are very good, Santa will grant your wish.
      LOL! I hope so :).

  7. Being a retail fellow, it’s a rare Christmas story that I’ll enjoy – but I have to say, something set in a different time, before everyone went present crazy? Yeah. I could dig that.

    • That was always part of the appeal for me, Nathan. The stories centred less around the craziness of cards/presents/decorations, and more on either the delights or/and tensions of being together with friends and family.

  8. That sounds like a fun idea. And a very pretty ornament too.

  9. British Christmas! Nonononononono!!!!!! What you are all talking about is an English Christmas.

    Being a Scot, we didn’t do Christmas much – when I was a child in Scotland for Christmas my grandfather went to work on Christmas morning – he got the afternoon off! Celebrations were for New Year! We did have a sort of Christmas dinner and presents, not many though, one main thing for each child, a book and a box of sweets, something from the grandparents and a stocking, with a half crown in the toe, a tangerine, a cox’s orange pippin, some chocolate money and a few bits like new crayons and a new rubber and a pencil sharpener – and that was it!

    • It’s fascinating that, thanks to the long long history of the British Isles and the many languages spoken in different areas you get the same sort of regionalism geography does for the US. There is some based on language, but very little. It just takes many many hundreds of miles to go from as big a cultural shift as one might get between England and Wales, etc. I am in the Pacific NW though I am not “from” here, but the difference between the Christmas we seem to think of, New England perhaps or actually English, would not be anything like the weather etc. in Arizona or Texas or Florida.


    • Sorry, Seraphina. People get annoyed with me if I say ‘English’ because they feel I’ve excluded the other British countries so I use Britain so as not to offend :). You are right though, pretty much all the stories in the m/f Christmas anthologies were set in England and usually in the south.

      It’s very interesting what you say about Christmas in Scotland. How things have changed, except that New Year is still a huge thing there too.

  10. No need to enter me for the ornament – the kitties are very destructive. 😦

    Hmm. I can think of a couple of historical holiday stories that are out this year – maybe you can put them together and pretend they’re an anthology? 🙂 Offhand, I know of Ava March’s story, My True Love Gave to Me, fresh out from Carina (and also in Men Under the Mistletoe), and A Gift of Mistletoe by Alex Whitehall.

    • I have both of those stories in my TBR pile. I’m reading the Ava March one first and I’ll save Alex’s story until later.

      Sorry about the kitties! This is the first year we are going to have a tree with the ginger terrors. It may not end well :).

  11. I just love this idea!!! I am getting to know the anthologies that have come out in our genre and would love to participate. May I write about Anglo Saxon England? imagine a gay Yule in Wintonceaster at the court of King Alfred the Great.

    Nan Hawthorne

    • An Anglo-Saxon story sounds wonderful, Nan! I hope this project does get off the ground and comes together for next year.

      • So, I’ll submit a story! How do these anthologies come about and how do we make it happen.. or help it happen. I’m all ears. I know there are folks here who have put together anthologies. Just tell me how i can help. Anything but proofing.. I suck at that.


      • What happens is that one writer (in this case, moi) collects the stories, edits the stories, puts them in some sort of logical order, writes an introduction that speaks about each story and ties them together, and then presents the anthology to a publisher (or many publishers).

        So anyone who has any connections with a likely publisher is soon to be my new best friend.

  12. You needn’t enter me for the prize, Jen. The shipping cost would be ridiculous, and this is not the time of year for unnecessary expenditures. (I’m a practical wench. :))

    I’d much prefer something like this to contemporary Christmas anthologies, although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I own every damned version of A Christmas Carol ever filmed. Maybe it’s because I was enchanted by Great Britain when I was there. Maybe it’s just because it would be so different and fascinating.

    So, yes, somebody needs to get on this project! I’d love to read historical Christmas tales.

    • You just don’t want me to know where you live, KZ, in case I turn up for an extended stay in the wilds of Minnesota ;).

      I prefer historical Christmas stories to contemporaries too, possibly because the experience of Christmas in the US is slightly different to the UK, or maybe because it all seemed so much simpler then.

  13. I really like the idea of a m/m historical christmas fiction anthology. I’d be in – both as a reader and writer. I have a bunny I want to write set in 1914.

    • Hi Anne

      it looks like you may get to let the bunny loose then as there is general support for the idea :). Wartime romance can be a difficult subject but I’ve liked some of the ones I’ve read so far which haven’t been set at Christmas. I’d be interested to read yours once you’ve written it.

  14. I think this is a fabulous idea — great post, and I love the illustrations 😀

  15. What a lovely idea! I know just the authors I’d like to see contributing to it as well.

    • Thanks, Elin. Yes, there are some top notch historical writers whose stories I would love to see in a Christmas anthology.

      • Anyone reading this who would like to contribute or knows of someone who might, my email address is, please be in touch.

        I’ll put together submission guidelines sometime soon, so email me to request those as well, or friend me on Facebook and I’ll post them.

        If I get enough submissions, I’ll do separate m/m and f/f books, otherwise first anthology will be mixed. Hopefully we can get some interest in it and have something out for next year!

  16. Okay. Fair enough. I’ll put out a call for gay and lesbian holiday stories, and see what kind of response I get. If you know of anyone wishing to participate, have them email me. At the present, no $$ involved, if I get a publisher then that may change.

    Jeannette The Daring

  17. I just heard about a vook called “Men Under the Mistletoe”… it’s four novellas.. at least one of the stories is historical. I’m about to go buy it.

    Are we talking about something different? Short stories are different… so i still say go for it.


    • I just finished Men Under The Mistletoe Anthology and the stories are wonderful but only 1 is historical in context. The authors are Josh Lanyon, Ava March, K. A. Mitchell and Harper Fox. The story, My True Love Gave To Me by Ava March takes place in London, England, 1817. The rest are fairly modern for the most part. The anthology is offered from Carina Press in ePub format only. So if you have a Kindle like I do, order it from Amazon. Great stories but not a historical anthology in the true meaning….


    Imagine your favorite holiday stories. Chances are good the protagonists are a man and a woman, possibly even with children. But where are the stories that feature men together, or women together, that will also warm our hearts at this special season?

    That’s where you come in. We’re collecting holiday stories for two anthologies, one featuring male protagonists/couples/families, the other featuring female protagonists/couples/families, and we’d like to hear from you!

    Your story should run between 2,000 and 4,000 words, contain no erotica, and be in a winter holiday setting. The only requirement is that it be historical fiction. We’re looking for tomorrow’s classics in time for next year’s holiday season!

    Pay will depend on securing a publisher and will be negotiated at that time for accepted stories. Deadline is June 15, 2012, but the earlier, the better. Send Word docs to Jeannette de Beauvoir at

    • Oh frabjous day! Calloo callay!

      I have my f/f plot alreeady figured out.. still need to work on my m/m.


  19. This announcement made my day. Yeay!

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