From the back cover:
Baby, it's cold outside...but downright sultry inside this unforgettable Christmas collection. Curl up by the fire and enjoy a stockingful of stories where anything can happen--especially love...
"Merry, Merry" by Fern Michaels
If cosmetic king Peter King thinks he's going to buy struggling verterinarian Andi Evan's family property out from under her, he's got another think coming. This Christmas, she's ready for war...or would that be love?
"Christmas Eve" by Virginia Henley
Pig-headed macho man. That's what real estate agent Eve Barlow thinks of firefighter Clint Kelly. But when they're snowbowund together, Eve discovers just how glad he can make her feel to be a woman...
"All I Want" by Holly Chamberlin
All Abby Walker wants for Christmas is hope that somewhere out there--beyond the weirdos and the heartbreakers--is her soul mate. But a gorgeous stranger is about to show her that Fate has a plan for bringing passion of the forever kind...
"A Misty Harbor Christmas" by Marcia Evanick
Olivia Hamilton comes home to Misty Harbor only to sell her late grandmother's house to Ethan Wycliffe, the obnoxious boy she remembers from childhood. But Christmas memories have a funny way of holding people, and boys have a funny way of growing up into breathtaking men...
No matter how low the mercury dips, these wonderful holiday stories will warm you heart and soul.
And my review:
"Merry Merry" has been reissued in Christmas anthologies so many times it's getting to be ridiculous. This story was terrible to begin with! Why bother to waste paper printing it again? Sorry to all the Fern Michaels fans out there, but I think this author's writing is terrible. This story reads like something written by a fifteen-year-old who's about to fail English class. What is with all those big long speeches? Can't anyone talk without flapping their gums for ten minutes straight? There was absolutely zip in the way of heat between the hero and heroine. I felt absolutely no spark between the characters, no passion, nothing. They talk, argue like preteens, and then at the end, it's like, "Let's get married."
"We can't get married, we haven't even slept together yet."
"Well, let's go do it now."
They walk up the stairs together. The end.
Yeah, really romantic - not! I forced myself through this novella and wished I hadn't wasted my time. One star.
Virginia Henley's story was so stereotypical it was roll-your-eyes material. Alpha male, ultra feminist female who secretly wants to be waited on and protected like a delicate little lady (you can't have it both ways!), a snowbound house, a near-death experience to bring them closer (which of course requires the hero to strip the harpie heroine naked and rub whisky on her, of all things), a garbage-truck-sized load of lust, and the characters having sex when they've known each other less than 24 hours. Yeesh. I was starting to wonder how many more cliches this author could pack into 100 pages. I kept waiting for it to get interesting or believable, but it didn't. When these two people who hate each other, yet can't keep themselves from having sex because their lust overwhelmes them, I skipped out on this story. One star.
Holly Chamberlin's story wasn't even readable, in my opinion. First of all, it was written in the first person, which is unusual for a romance. Still, if a story is compelling enough (eg Gabaldon's "Outlander") I will read it. This was a silly little piece of chick lit, which I don't like. Even then I could have got past that if the story had been enjoyable. But it wasn't. It was so choppy and poorly written. The attention kept jumping around until that it was like trying to watch an out-of-control tennis match. The dialogue was horribly fragmented. People kept interrupting each other, until the actual story was getting to be impossible to follow. I forced myself to the second chapter, but could make myself go any further. One star.
Marcia Evanick's story was the only decent one, and even it wasn't great. It pretty much felt like a cheap marketing ploy to get you to read her full-length novel "Blueberry Hill". There's even a thirteen page preview after "A Misty Harbor Christmas". I sense that this is an author who can write enjoyable full-length novels, but can't quite make it work in this squashed, 80 page novella format. Also, I don't like the whole "I'm going to have a brief affair with you, even though I'm going to be leaving you in two weeks" theme. I know not all readers out there believe in sex only within marriage, but I do feel that commitment is important before a couple hops into bed together. The characters were enjoyable (though I liked the heroine's best friend more than I liked her), but the plot felt pretty weak. I may try more of this author's full-length work in the future, but I would not bother re-reading this novella. Two stars.
Romance anthologies range from the heavenly to the horrible. This one was in the low end of the spectrum. If you can borrow this from the library or a friend, it might be worth it, if you're a hardcore Evanick fan, as that is the only story worth reading, and even it's pretty mediocre. Otherwise, don't waste your money on this book.
For a good contemporary Christmas romance, I highly recommend "Let It Snow" by Sherry Lewis, a Harlequin Superromance, available used on Amazon.com