The authors, who live all over the United States, collaborated on the book via Zoom. Top row, from left: Tif Marcelo, Elle Cruz, Maan Gabriel. Bottom row: Sarah Smith, Mia Hopkins, and Maida Malby.
(Author met Mia Hopkins at the Paskong Filipino event in West Covina.)
With a title inspired by the beloved Christmas ballad “Pasko Na, Sinta Ko” by singer-songwriter Gary Valenciano, Pasko Na, My Love is a collection of holiday romance stories by acclaimed and bestselling Filipino American authors Elle Cruz, Maan Gabriel, Maida Malby, Mia Hopkins, Sarah Smith and Tif Marcelo. Filipino American artist and illustrator Vania Hardy created the cover for the book, which was released by EOT Publications on December 6, 2022.
Pasko Na, My Love’s creators hope to appeal to all fans of holiday romance. Co-author Sarah Smith is a writer of sexy contemporary romance novels including The Close-Up and The Boy with the Bookstore. She says, “Each short story [in Pasko Na, My Love]is a romance, featuring different romance tropes – enemies-to-lovers, second-chance romance, forced proximity, forbidden romance, and more. It also takes place on Christmas Eve, so you’ve got festive holiday celebrations woven into the narrative too.”
At the center of Pasko Na, My Love is the Christmas Eve hundredth birthday party of the Moore family matriarch, Lola Naty, short for Natividad Luz Moore. The party and de facto reunion take place at the fictional Hacienda Luz, the family’s hotel and vineyard in Napa, California. On this special night, six different couples overcome a variety of obstacles to reconnect or begin a new romance.
“Although each story is separate, they are intertwined with the meaningful theme of love and family as the common thread,” says co-author Elle Cruz, whose debut novel How to Survive a Modern-Day Fairy Tale was released in 2021.
“At the heart of it, this anthology is about relationships, romantic love primarily, and family, and sometimes how messy huge celebrations can be just below the surface,” says co-author Tif Marcelo, a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction, romance and young adult books.
The authors are friends and colleagues. In the past, they have collaborated to promote their separate projects, but Pasko Na, My Love marks the first time they have written a book together. The project took shape under the guidance of co-author and editor Maida Malby, who writes contemporary destination romance stories.
“This collaboration would never have been possible without the vision and hard work of Maida Malby, whom I endlessly admire,” says Cruz. “She, like the rest of us, knew it was well past time for a group of Fil-Am romance writers to band together to write a collection of stories celebrating love and the holidays.”
Minority representation, or lack thereof, is a hot topic in the American publishing industry, particularly in romance, where TikTok and new readers to the genre have driven phenomenal sales growth.
“Romance is a huge genre with readers from every background, and Filipino-Americans deserve to be part of that,” says Smith. “It’s important to see yourself included in the entertainment you consume, and that’s why being able to write romance that highlights Filipino-American characters is so important to me.”
Maan Gabriel, author of the contemporary romances After Perfect and the forthcoming Twelve Hours in Manhattan, looks to the future.
“It’s important to have Filipino representation everywhere,” she said. “To be recognized not just for our ethnicity, but also for the talent we have to create, will open more doors and spaces for the next generation of Filipino creatives.”
“Beyond the objective of representation in publishing, there’s also a need to tell stories of Filipino joy, not just our struggles,” says Malby. “To have that joy multiplied six-fold with this anthology is a gift I’m happy to share with as many readers as I can.”
Pasko Na, My Love is written in English with some Tagalog phrases. It is currently available for sale in print and digital format at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book retailers.
“It was exciting to collaborate with these amazing authors on a subject that’s so personal to us,” says Mia Hopkins, author of the Eastside Brewery trilogy. “I had as much fun reading their stories as I did writing my own – it was the perfect gift to finish the year.”
Family, heart, and a Merry Christmas Happily Ever After.
By Mia Hopkins
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all ‘round Hacienda Luz bustled in celebration of Natividad Luz Moore’s 100th birthday.
A Filipino American woman of courage, strength, and heart, Lola Naty has touched the lives of many. Celebrities and politicians make merry, fine dresses and barong Tagalogs shimmer, and food and drink flow freely. And it’s all to honor family, tradition, and the very essence of that thing called love.
While Filipino ballads fill the chilly Northern California air, hearts throb and passions ignite as six remarkable couples find love in all the right—or wrong—places.
From acclaimed and bestselling Filipino American authors—Elle Cruz, Maan Gabriel, Maida Malby, Mia Hopkins, Sarah Smith, and Tif Marcelo—comes Pasko Na, My Love, a holiday romance collection that is sure to warm your heart and uplift your Christmas spirit.
· Volcanic Love by Elle Cruz
· My Only Love by Maan Gabriel
· So It’s You by Maida Malby
· Illicit by Mia Hopkins
· Last Minute by Sarah Smith
· The Deal by Tif Marcelo