by Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh, Linda Winstead Jones

October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-425-22355-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Berkley
Trade Paperback

When I first saw the title, The Magical Christmas Cat, it conjured images of a sweet-faced tabby and hot cocoa. The cats in this anthology are not necessarily the warm, fuzzy kind, but they are sure to make you look at felines in a whole new light.

Nalani Singh is a new to me author. Stroke of Enchantment starts this collection of novellas with well crafted storytelling and charm. Heroine Annie is a teacher who was hurt in a bullet train accident in 2060. Her students are human, psy and changeling. A discipline problem with leopard changeling child brings his Uncle Zach into Annie's life. Zach has his inner leopard under control, but still has an abundance of animal magnetism. When Annie was recovering from her injuries as a child, she prayed for someone to keep her loneliness at bay. Is Zach that prayer come true?

Christmas Bree by Erin McCarthy has a heroine who is a true witch. Even with her younger sister's prediction, Bree finds it hard to believe she will meet a man in a pink shirt. Bree has sworn off men and has had no relationship for almost two years. The man in the pink shirt shows up at her doorstep in the form of lawyer Ian Carrington. The two met about a year ago and, unbeknown to Bree, Ian has been having fantasies about her ever since. This has upset him since Bree is certainly not his usual sweater set, corporate woman type. The magical cat in this tale is Akasha, who is working against the odds to be a matchmaker with mistletoe.

Sweet Dreams by Linda Winstead Jones begins with a neighborhood Christmas party. Ruby lives a quiet, but busy life as she juggles her bakery business and the home her Aunt Mildred left her. She is a bit miffed at the party when her Secret Santa partner turns up his nose at her yummy baked goods. Professor Benedict is aloof and seems more interested in the gift Ruby received, a jade cat. He insists on taking it home with him to do research on its origin. Later that night, Ruby has a vivid nightmare and when she awakens the jade cat is on her nightstand.

As someone who works in a library, I felt a kinship with Haley McQuire, the librarian protagonist of Christmas Heat by Lora Leigh. The paranormal twists make the story even more fun to read. Noble Chavin is a jaguar breed enforcer. Breeds were created and taught to kill with the altered DNA of predators. The world found out about the breeds and the council lost control of their creations. It doesn't help matters that the breeds secret mating heat brings out the best and worst. Haley's world literally blows up and she is not sure if she can trust Noble.

Each novella in this anthology has its own distinct flavor, but they all have the common thread of spicy romance and plots that are sure to entertain anyone who wants to believe in magic.

Reviewed in October 2008 by Roberta.