Better Naughty Than Nice

Blaze - #507

Damon Claus, the younger brother to Santa, grew up thumbing his nose at family tradition and enjoyed wrecking havoc during the busiest season of the year. It seems while Santa is committed to one cause, Damon, being the bad seed of the family, is committed to a totally opposite cause. He just loves to make people miserable. He misbehaved so badly as a child to seek out attention from everyone that he seemed to have permanently stepped into the role as an adult too. No matter how hard Santa tries to set Damon straight, it just doesn’t work. From stripping the ornaments from the tree in Times Square, to busting up that big Christmas parade, to even handing out condoms at FAO Schwartz as if they’re candy – Damon just doesn’t want to follow in Santa’s shoes.

So, doing what he does best, he sets out to have some fun by creating more chaos between specific people for the holiday season. In “No Mistletoe Required” by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Riley Kinnard is flying home to Arizona for a job interview in possible hopes of moving back to live in the place he thought he never live in again. His parents hope he lands the job and figures that if he does, it would be nice to have him settle down where he grew up. But, ironically, his parents had already booked the cruise they had won and it just so happens to be when Riley is in town. So this leaves him plenty of free time on his hands. Never realizing that some more powerful intersession is going to wreck havoc on his life during his stay at his parents’ house, Riley isn’t prepared to confront the one girl that could still make his heart skip a beat, Hayden Manchester, his high school sweetheart. When they see each other again sparks fly and lives get turned upside down, thanks to Damon Claus, in this enjoyable holiday read that is part of this anthology.

In the second story, “Her Secret Santa” by Jill Shalvis, Arson investigator Ally Dauer is interrupted and called away from Thanksgiving dinner with her parents and extended family to go investigate a new case of a burned down home improvement warehouse. While on scene, she just so happens to run into Damon Claus and he informs her that the toy drive she runs each year has been shifted to his jurisdiction and he’ll be Toy Director. Ally never realizes that this will be the beginning of her life becoming a bit more complicated than she had planned on. How is she going to be able to handle the smoldering feelings she still has for Eddie Weston from Firehouse #34? Having him battle the home improvement warehouse blaze only makes her realize that she still has the hots for him, but since he never called her after their second date, she guesses nothing will ever come of their tryst together. But when he volunteers to help out with the toy drive there’s more than just toys being exchanged between them. Could Damon Claus’ devilish plan work out for Ally and Eddie or will everyone be surprised in the end from the scheme he’s cooked up?
In the final story, “Snug In His Bed” by Rhonda Nelson, Viv Foster just has a way of getting into trouble. When a mall Santa gets a bit too friendly with her and cops a feel, Viv does the only thing she feels she should do – she punches him. While in court, she notices the uncanny resemblance of the judge and swears he looks like Damon Claus, the mall Santa that was a little too friendly with Viv’s behind. Receiving her punishment for assaulting a man, Viv is sentenced to forty hours of community service at Bailey’s Tree Farm. Not knowing anything about chopping down Christmas trees or even being strong enough to carry one someone’s car for them, she has no choice but to serve her sentence. If that isn’t enough to annoy her, this will put her London trip on hold yet again, which was the one thing she always wanted to do for herself over the years. Every time she got close to her goal amount, something invariably went wrong and this year seems to be no different for her. But when she reports to Bailey’s Tree Farm to complete her forty hours of community service, seeing handsome Hank Bailey doesn’t seem to be such a bad thing after all. Does working on the Bailey’s Tree Farm give Viv a new perspective on Christmas? Could Damon Claus’ plan be exactly what Viv and Hank needed?
I loved this anthology and found myself laughing out loud with Damon Claus’ mischievous antics. I love how these three authors created Damon as the black sheep of the family and in each of their stories made me feel as if I knew him personally. I loved each one of the very creative storylines and falling in love with all three sets of main characters was a breeze for me. Each story was a fun and fresh take on the holiday season and how it sometimes can make people act differently than they normally would in situations. I would highly recommend this hot anthology to readers and I look forward to reading more stories from each of these talented authors. Great job ladies!

Book Blurb for Better Naughty Than Nice

Meet St. Nick's delightfully devilish brother, Damon Claus. He's about to prove to three unsuspecting couples that being naughty is much, much nicer…

No Mistletoe Required by Vicki Lewis Thompson

With Damon's sneaky help, Hayden Manchester and Riley Kinnard rekindle a long-running, very creative rivalry…that leaves them fighting over who's on top!

Her Secret Santa by Jill Shalvis

Workaholic Ally Dauer runs the local toy drive. Only when she discovers some very adult toys, firefighter Eddie Weston convinces her that the best gifts are meant to be shared….

Snug in His Bed by Rhonda Nelson

Viv Foster hates Christmas. Hank Bailey owns a Christmas tree farm. What could they possibly have in common? Sizzling sexual chemistry and, thanks to Damon, the opportunity to act on it. After all, it's the season of miracles…

Night Owl Reviews Dec, 2009 4.00