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December's Book of the Month brings you the magic of romance and the holidays

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Andrew Feller
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Beth Gabriel
Beth Gabriel

It may be hard to believe, but it is December. Which means it’s time to celebrate, rest, and maybe even have a little holiday romance.

Every month on Lake Effect, we’re partnering with the Milwaukee Public Library for our Book of the Month series to bring you new reading recommendations.

This month, we’ll hear from Beth Gabriel, a reference assistant at the Milwaukee Public Library East Branch and their resident romance novel expert. Gabriel says she initially got her nickname as Milwaukee Public Library's resident romance expert by ordering romance paperbacks for the branch.

"I've always been a secret romance novel reader. Ever since I was a little kid, I would steal them from my mother and hide them under my bed. It was something I really kept to myself," says Gabriel.

But, it wasn't long until she shared her love for romance novels. After talking to her coworkers, she says the embarrassment of her love for the drama faded.

"There's nothing to be embarrassed about here. These are just as relevant as some highbrow, sad, depressing, lit, fic[tion] books. You know, a book for every reader, a reader for every book is what I say," says Gabriel.

This month Gabriel recommends reading "Christmas In Rose Bend" by Naima Simone.

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Beth Gabriel
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Three Romance Book Recommendations

The book follows a Black woman named Nessa who's an emergency room nurse. While taking her little sister into the city to explore a secret of her deceased father, she bumps into a man named Wolfgang Dennison. Instantly there are sparks, Gabriel says.

"Both characters have a lot of lingering grief issues and complications. He doesn't believe he can love anymore, and she's too scared to love, but it'll all work out in the end. Then she'll take you for a ride, but you will enjoy every moment," says Gabriel.

This month, Gabriel brought some bonus books to add to your holiday reading list.

She suggests people looking for something a little less angsty in the romance department should read "A Wedding One Christmas" by Theresa Beharrie. The book takes place in South Africa, and it deals with a woman who returns for her brother's wedding on Christmas.

The last book that Gabriel recommends is "The Lights on Knockbridge Lane" by Roan Parrish. Gabriel says this book is perfect when traveling because it's festive and friendly.

"It's about a single dad and his burly neighbor," says Gabriel. "[The single dad's] daughter really wants the house to be lit up for Christmas. The single dad and his daughter experience some familial sadness, but the next door neighbor helps them decorate for the holiday. And soon enough, sparks fly between the dad and the neighbor."

As a romance reader herself, Gabriel says that the Milwaukee Public Library has a great collection of romance novels that are free for Milwaukee residents.

"If you're still a shy romance reader, which I understand, and you want to read on your phone or listen on your phone or on your Kindle or whatever reader you have, those are available to you too," Gabriel says. "The three books that I did talk about today, they're all available for hold. You can get them either as ebook, audiobook, or a paperback at your local branch," says Gabriel.

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