I'm Your Santa (Brava) is up first and has stories from Lori Foster, Karen Kelley, and Dianne Castell. Foster's 'The Christmas Present' sends Beth Monroe home for the holidays after dumping her cheating fiance and hooking up with his best friend. Levi Masterson has been in love with Beth forever, but wouldn't get in the way while his best friend was still in the picture. Now he wants forever, and he's not giving up. Kelley's 'It's a Wonderful Life' sends actor Jeremy Hunter off on his own, posing as a traveling preacher to get into character for his next movie, when Bailey Tanner gets in his way temporarily. But he's supposed to be reforming his bad boy image. Castell's 'Home for Christmas' has Lulu Cahill hooking up with Sebastian Moore for one brief interlude while they're both home for the holidays, and neither is looking to find a new relationship so soon. The best of this trio is the Foster, naturally, with plenty of steam between Beth and Levi, and a visit from some secondary characters readers will be happy to see. Kelley's Jeremy is too much of a bad boy to believably reform, I'm afraid, so this one wasn't as enjoyable. And Castell's story has way too much going on for such a short tale; it needs far more story-time to make readers buy into this one. For me, it's a keeper only for Lori Foster, which means this one's earned only three of Cupid's five arrows.
An Enchanted Season (Berkley) has four new paranormal holiday tales from Maggie Shayne, Erin McCarthy, Jean Johnson, and Nalini Singh. Shayne leads things off with 'Melting Frosty', with Holly going back to the house where she lived as a child, and Matthew showing up, intending to buy the house as an investment. They promptly get snowed in together, which makes for an interesting lead-up to Christmas. But Matthew is Scrooge compared to Holly's enthusiasm for the season, so this mismatched pair can't possibly work things out without a little holiday magic to aid them. McCarthy's 'Charlotte's Web' has Charlotte Murphy reluctantly agreeing to her witchy sisters' demands to do a lust spell on her best friend Will Thornton in hopes of having them spend Christmas in a more traditional manner than normal. Singh's 'Beat of Temptation' has Tamsyn trying to reel in her intended mate Nate, who insists she's too young for the full consequences of their mating. And Johnson's 'Gift of the Magi' sends a trio of interesting companions to the troubled little inn of Rachel and her fiance Steve just in time to help them through the holiday season when things are getting difficult. I liked the first two stories very much, and the latter two not as much, which disappointed me, because I like Ms. Johnson's series quite a lot. McCarthy's trademark humor and steam show up well in her story, and Shayne's tale is a little different from her normal holiday stories, but quite enjoyable, particularly with the one aspect that runs from beginning to end. For me, this one's a keeper, just for the Shayne and McCarthy stories. I'm giving it three and a half arrows.
Until next time, happy reading!