Red Hot Santa
By Jennifer Wardrip
May 1, 2006 - 12:54:00 PM

Cherry Adair serves up a white-hot suspense sizzler with SNOWBALL'S CHANCE, the story of a woman who once escaped a serial killer-but might not be so lucky this time around. Kendall Metcalf has made a name for herself as a party planner and has even had a few write-ups in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Along with her business partner, Rebecca Metzner, their focus has been on a big holiday party planned for a big-wig out in the wilds of Montana. Planned, that is, until Rebecca realizes that the madman who almost killed Kendall, Dwight Treadwell, has escaped from prison and is no doubt set on revenge against the woman who didn't die and in fact got him locked away. So she hires Joe Zorn to ditch his skiing vacation and travel, in a blinding snowstorm, to the ranch where Kendall is staying. Ms. Adair's story had me laughing out loud with Kendall's "Ho, Ho, Ho Y'All" shirt, shivering with fear when the psychotic Treadwell showed up, and sighing with delight over the sexual chemistry between bodyguard Joe and Kendall.

SANTA SLAVE by Leanne Banks centers around Hilary Winfree, a graduate student and teaching assistant who is worried about the college student she's been mentoring. Christine, a beautiful girl who'd never been away from home, had found an ad offering young girls free travel around the world and thousands of dollars in compensation to teach foreign businessmen American customs and manners. Although Hilary had warned Christine that the offer sounded too good to be true, Christine went anyway-and now that she's missing, Hilary takes it upon herself to accept the same position. Unfortunately, she learns all too quickly that these "businessmen" are dealing in human trafficking. Fortunately, someone else is worried about Hilary, and Rick "Chameleon" Santana is on the job. Posing as a prospective "buyer", Rick infiltrates the sordid building where Hilary and a number of other young women are being held, and attempts to buy her way to freedom. Although scary in it's subject matter, SANTA SLAVE deals with the all-too-real problems that face many young women in third-world countries, and the feelings that develop between Hilary and Rick, along with their desire to rescue Christine, make for an interesting story.

Pamela Britton's story, BIG, BAD SANTA, is an absolute delight! Dr. Kaitlyn Logan runs an animal shelter, and has been working for years on a pet project that involves developing a "migratory chip"-an implanted microchip in birds that can be used to actually direct them in a certain direction. Unfortunately, as soon as she writes Senator Prescott with her information and asks for government funding, all sorts of bad events are set in motion. Basically, the chip that she invented to send electronic pulses to a bird's brain and direct it's flight pattern could, if it fell into the wrong hands, be used as the world's first avian weapon-the birds could be outfitted with cameras to spy on the enemy, or even as a biological weapon. Kaitlyn hadn't thought of that, but she wises up pretty quickly when a man named Chase Owens shows up at her shelter, ushers her past a man trying to shoot her, orders her onto his Harley, and whisks her away to safety. He informs Kait that he's been watching her and her place of business for over a week, ever since she wrote the Senator. Now that terrorists are coming out of the woodwork to get their hands on Kait's technology, the only thing keeping her out of harms way is the mysterious stranger on a motorcycle-the same stranger that's causing her to forget all about microchips and instead sending pulses of heat throughout her own body.

Kelsey Roberts brings us KILLER CHRISTMAS, and what a killer it is. Meghan Beckham, the new CEO of Beckhams Department Store in Palm Beach, is a little dismayed to learn that her store's Santas are dropping like flies-literally. One Santa died of a supposed heart attack during his break one day, and the next day the replacement Santa is dead, too-this time, though, the knife sticking out of his once jolly belly points to murder. As does the fact that the dead Santa is propped up on full display in the store's front window. When Jack Palmer shows up to serve as her personal bodyguard, Meghan has a few choice words to say about how it's going to effect her business-but the heat running between the two of them is something else entirely. As Jack vows to keep Meghan safe, and Meghan pledges that no more Santas will die on her watch, the two of them are determined to find out just who is behind the death of Santa Clause, and who wants to see Beckhams close so badly.

If you read no other Christmas anthology this year, make sure you pick up a copy of RED HOT SANTA. You won't be disappointed, but you also won't want to see the stories come to an end!

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