This time out, I have the anthology Kissing Santa Claus (Brava). Donna Kauffman’s ‘Lock, Stock and Jingle Bells’ starts things off with Holly Bennett returning to her childhood home at holiday time to decide what to do with the store her mother has given her. Sean Gallagher is happy to see Holly home again; he always had a crush on the quiet girl across the street but never did anything about it. Now he can see if that affection was ever reciprocated. Too bad Holly doesn’t intend to stay, though. Worse, she hates his favorite season of the year. Of course, Holly always had her own secret crush on the popular boy from across the street, and he might persuade her that Christmas isn’t so bad.
‘Bah Handsome’ from Jill Shalvis is next, with Hope O’Brien worrying about making her loan payment to her greedy step-brother and keeping her B&B afloat through the holiday season. Then his accountant shows up on her doorstep in the middle of a snowstorm, and that can’t be good. Danny Shaw has come on orders from his boss to find out what’s going on at the B&B, but he’d really like to help Hope keep her home and livelihood. Convincing her that he really does want to help won’t be easy, but making her understand how much he’s attracted to her will be, happily, much simpler. But Hope can’t trust that Danny really isn’t there to take away her dream, no matter how much their attraction scorches the pair of them.
HelenKay Dimon’s ‘It’s Hotter at Christmas’ has Marissa Brandt stranded in Hawaii for work when she’d much rather be home in Philly with snow falling around her. Deputy police chief Ted Greene isn’t sure exactly what’s going on with her--first her purse was stolen, then she claims her room was broken into though nothing was taken--but he does know he’s wildly attracted to the woman. He also knows they can’t have anything but a quick holiday fling, because he can’t risk his heart again for a woman. Good thing Marissa isn’t willing to take ‘no’ for an answer. My favorite story here is the Shalvis, with Hope and Danny, and her well-meaning and interfering best friends who want to see her as happy as they are. Danny is a charmer, not to mention sexy as heck, and Hope is determined to keep her dream. Kauffman isn’t one of my favorite authors, but I really liked this story a lot better than I’ve liked her other recent releases. Holly and Sean have some scorching chemistry between them, and I liked Sean’s determination to win her. I didn’t love Dimon’s story, with Ted who can’t seem to resist Marissa even though he’s investigating her case, or Marissa who lets him push her away, at least for a while. For the first two stories, I’m borrowing four of Cupid’s five arrows. If you’re looking to get into a winter holiday state of mind, they’ll get you there.
Until next time, happy reading!