Ah, winter! A great time to curl up by a fire with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate. There is nothing quite like firelight - the flickering, ever-changing light, the warmth, the smell of burning wood, the feeling of a connection with simpler times. But how many of us who live in the city have access to a working fireplace? Very few, that's who!
If your dream house has at least one fireplace, but you're stuck in an urban apartment, don't despair. There are several decent substitutes available.
One trick I've seen is placing candles in a non-functioning fireplace. If several candles of various sizes and heights are placed in the hearth, the soft glow of firelight can be very soothing. Some candles are even scented to smell like burning wood (http://www.vat19.com/dvds/fireplace-scented-jar-candle.cfm).
Another option available is a gas fireplace, though this would not be as popular to a renter as it would be to a homeowner, since it needs to be vented to outside through the wall. It looks very real, though if you are sensitive to gas you might not care for this choice. A freestanding gas stove that resembles a woodburning stove is also an option (http://www.regency-fire.com/).
Electric fireplaces are also available. These are a great option for renters. since they don't need to be vented. A few months ago Target had some on sale, though I have not checked their listings recently.
If your budget does not allow for an artificial fireplace and you do not have an artificial fireplace already built in, a nice low-cost option is a fireplace video or DVD. Pop one of these in your player, light a fireplace-scented candle, and enjoy your book and hot cocoa.
These options probably won't ever completely replace the charm of a wood-burning fireplace. The links above are ones that I found through a quick Google search. There are many products and price ranges available. Enjoy your search and discovery of the products that fit your budget and lifestyle, and enjoy the romantic glow of your firelight.