St Martin’s Press, $7.99, ISBN 0-312-93976-0
Contemporary Romance, 2006
Dang it, I’ve been bamboozled. The cover of the Christmas anthology Santa Baby says, “First time in print – a holiday novella by Jennifer Crusie”. I rather foolishly take this to mean that the anthology features brand new stories. It turns out that only Ms Crusie’s story is new. The other stories are taken from previous Christmas anthologies by this publisher. I am not happy when I discover this after reading the copyright page.
On the bright side, Ms Crusie’s Hot Toy is too much fun to read. Trudy Maxwell courageously braves the madness of last-moment shopping on Christmas eve to get her nephew the elusive Major MacGuffin action figure (with extra toxic waste) only to find herself madly looking through the toy boxes in the store and running away from what seems like Chinese spies pursuing her for toys that contain secret coded messages. Luckily for her, the almost-boyfriend who never called, Nolan Mitchell, is at hand to help her rekindle a little Christmas magic.
This one is crazy enough to rival a Janet Evanovich madcap comedy as Trudy is dragged through an outrageously out-there adventure. Ms Crusie has plenty of one-liners and funny scenes here that have me laughing until my sides ache. Really, I adore this story the way I’d adore a bag full of hundred dollar notes. I am also amused at how the author has Trudy behaving like the most cynical romance heroine I’ve ever come across, doubting Nolan for everything and anything, only to fall back head over heels the moment he shows up again. Trudy is such a ditz sometimes, heh.
Lori Foster’s Christmas Bonus is from the 2000 anthology All I Want for Christmas. You can read my review of that one in that link. It’s fun.
And finally, Carly Phillips’s Naughty under the Mistletoe from the 2001 anthology Naughty or Nice?. You can read my thoughts on this one in that link. It’s fun… okay, it’s not.
To conclude, this is a very expensive anthology with only one out of three stories being new. If you haven’t read these reprinted stories before, this anthology isn’t bad at all. If you have, ask someone to lend it to you so that you can read Ms Crusie’s story. As fun as it is, it’s not worth $7.99.