by Lori Foster, Dee Holmes, Kinley MacGregor and Eileen Wilks

November 2000
ISBN: 0-312-97680-1
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press
Mass Market Paperback

There has to be something in the air at Christmastime that makes romance seem so extra special. A sparkle of some kind of holiday magic glitters around lovers and whether they are braving a snowstorm at an English country home, planning an office Christmas party, doing their best to rediscover a family or reuniting with their one true love, it's always extra-special when it happens at Christmas. This quartet of short stories shows us how wonderful holiday romances can be!

Eileen Wilks has chosen to place her story in Regency England, on a cold winter's night. Emily Smythe is sneaking away from home in search of The Proper Lover in the hope that she might escape an arranged marriage by ruining herself beforehand. She has selected James Drake, Baron Redding, as her target! Fortunately, James is attending a nearby house party, but unfortunately he is quite drunk when Emily taps on his window! It is a lot of fun to watch James' rapid ascent into sobriety when he realizes that he's lying on top of a virgin, not one of the party's paid courtesans! This is a lovely story, with a charming hero and heroine who shine above the other less-than-appealing characters, and is a most enjoyable read.

Santa Wears Spurs takes us, as the title suggests, to the Old West for the holidays. Catherine O'Callahan has made the best of things for herself and her little daughter, and has told herself she's forgotten the husband who walked out on her even before she knew she was pregnant. So it's a huge surprise to find him on her doorstep on Christmas Eve. On the face of it, one would think forgiveness would be impossible under these circumstances, but Kinley MacGregor has crafted a well-thought-out plot that allows for the unpredictable factor of human nature to play a role. Catherine's present from Santa this year may well be her best - Michael O'Callahan!

Lori Foster shows us Christmas in the corporate world as she presents an interesting Christmas Bonus. Eric Bragg has suffered a severe case of lust for Maggie Carmichael since he first met her as a gangly seventeen-year old! Working first for her father, and now for her, Eric has always been aware that acting on his feelings would be inappropriate given their professional association, so he's stayed Maggie's friend and confidante, and done his noble best to ignore his heated reaction to her. That is until Maggie takes a hand in things! For Maggie, too, has been mad for Eric, and yet another approaching Christmas steels her resolve to get him where she wants him - in her bed! Eric is in for the surprise of his life, especially when he reads the novel Maggie is secretly writing. As always, Lori Foster makes us laugh and sigh with these lovers as they celebrate Christmas in the best way possible. A sparkling story with lots of the best kind of love!

Finally we get to spend A Night With Emily. Actually, that wasn't what Johnny Cross had in mind when he agreed to use a friend's house for the holidays - but Emily was staying there too. Johnny and Emily used to be an item, but had broken up and moved on with their lives. Now those lives had reunited them, Johnny angry and bitter at women in general, and Emily content with her uninvolved single existence. The history these two share makes it very easy to see how they slide into a new kind of relationship, and how the spirit of Christmas can soften and heal even the most damaged heart. Besides their renewed romance, Johnny and Emily celebrate the holidays in the best of ways - by helping others, and this adds a little extra glitter to this delightful tale.

All four of these authors have given their readers a wonderful Christmas present, and any romance lover would be only too pleased to find this book under her tree!

Reviewed in November 2001 by Celia.