One Winter's Night


It’s Christmastime again and what party wouldn’t be complete without the jolly old man himself? But at Stryker & Associates annual Christmas party, no one seems to know who the man is behind the red suit and beard. Ironically, certain people Santa speaks to while mingling seem to get a few pointers from him on how they can get their number one heart’s desire fulfilled for the holiday season.
In “Here Comes Santa Claus,” we meet up with beautiful and professional Monica Newell who’s the CFO of Stryker and Associates. During one of her business trips out of town, her flight from Florida is cancelled due to bad weather. But that wasn’t the only storm brewing because when she meets Kit Baldwin, a complete stranger who’s also stranded by the storm, sparks fly and clothes get ripped off. She’s never had a one night stand before and being embarrassed by her actions, she decides to high tail it out of his hotel room before he wakes up. Since it was only a one night stand she figures she won’t miss Kit at all. But while attending the annual Christmas party, this mystery Santa asks her what’s wrong because she seems hundreds of miles away. She tells him that she would love to be back in Florida again and he replies to her, “I might be able to bring a little of Florida here to you.” His reply doesn’t make sense to her, but she goes back to mingling at the party. Her boss catches her eye and tells her that he wants her to meet one of their top clients who happened to be invited to their party. There, standing before her, is Kit Baldwin. What is Monica going to do now knowing that Kit is here in the flesh, but he’s also one of their top clients?
Nick Castle, the top salesman another year in a row, is happy that he won one more trip to Maui because of his hard work in, “Sleigh Ride.” While mingling at the Christmas party, Santa approaches him and asks what he wants for Christmas. Nick’s reply is, “Give me the girl of my dreams, Claus. My soul mate. My happily ever after.” Without missing a beat Santa informs him that the girl of his dreams is in the ladies room and he better hurry so he won’t miss her. As Nick finds himself heading toward the ladies room all these mixed thoughts are floating through his head. Who could this woman be? Just as he arrives at the ladies’ room, the door opens and Allie Madison walks out. It seems completely off course that it would be her because Allie is Nick’s fellow sales agent and deeply and wholeheartedly hates his guts. Ironically, after they talk a few minutes and she finds out what Santa said to Nick, Allie realizes that it’s exactly what she asked the mystery Santa for earlier in the evening. Can there be some truth to what the jolly old man is telling the both of them? Could they both be each others’ soul mate?
In the third story, “You’re All I Want for Christmas,” Anna Cole, a temp employee working on a different floor of the Stryker building, receives her last check of the year before heading home permanently. She can no longer afford to live in Chicago on the mere pittance she makes temping here and there. Since she can’t find a steady job, that means she has to stop attending school for awhile until she settles herself back home again in Idaho. Because she was in Chicago for only six months and doesn’t know if she’ll ever be back again, she decides that she’s going to treat herself to something special as a going away present to herself. She has always wanted to go to the top floor and tour the Skydeck. Now seems like the perfect time to do that. As she rides the elevator, there suddenly seems to be some mechanical issue with the elevator car. She gets off and tries calling another car to that floor. But none show up. As she keeps pressing the button, she hears Christmas music playing down the hall. Deciding that she’ll have to take the stairs, she heads toward the stairwell which is down the same corridor as the holiday party. Just outside the party’s doors, someone is exiting and holds the door open for her. Would crashing the holiday party be such a really bad thing? When she enters the party, no one seems to realize that she doesn’t belong there. As a matter of fact, she has caught the eye of none other than the company heir, John Stryker, Jr, and they seem to be getting along really well. But when she finds out who he is, she decides that crashing this party wasn’t the smartest idea after all. She excuses herself and leaves. But Santa won’t stand by and allow this opportunity to pass. He strikes up a conversation with John and tells him that he’s making the biggest mistake of his life allowing Anna to leave the party. Does John decide to go after her?
In the last story of this anthology, “Merry Christmas, Baby,” we find Jeannie Carmichael, an unappreciated admin worker, down in the dumps. She didn’t enjoy the party that she so earnestly put together for the company this year since no one else could do it. It seems that everyone lately is just unappreciative of her and she’s sick of it. She runs into Santa and makes a wish that she finds someone who would finally appreciate her. He tells her to keep her heart open and she might find that special someone closer than she thinks. On Monday while she’s strolling into work, she’s greeted by the most beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for her on her desk. She isn’t dating anyone so she has no idea who it could be from. As she reads the card she finds out that she has a Secret Admirer. As the days pass, more gifts are left for her. Each gift is more considerate than the last one. Finally her admirer tells her he wants to meet her in the coffee shop at lunchtime and he’ll be holding one single red rose. As she enters the coffee shop she finds out that it’s the guy she’s been friends with and shared so much with, Troy Hutchins. Could Santa be right about Troy being the one who will be considerate and appreciative of Jeannie?
I really enjoyed this anthology by Ms. Borrill and loved getting to know all of her characters. It was fun seeing some of the characters work their way into other stories and seeing if Santa was really a nut case on the loose at the party or could it have been the real Santa himself. If you’re looking for a fun, hot holiday anthology to read, than look no further. Ms. Borrill has a winner on her hands with this one!

Book Blurb for One Winter's Night

At Stryker & Associates' fancy Christmas party, a jolly man in a red suit is making the rounds...bringing naughty and nice together!

"Totally Taboo"

Ice-queen exec Monica Newell melts for Kit Baldwin--a sexy cowboy, "and" a client!

"From Hate to Heat"

Longtime rivals Nick Castle and Allie Madison finally ignite their combustible attraction for each other.

"Party Crasher"

Anna Cole sneaks into the festivities...and gets a wicked weekend with the hunky company heir, John Stryker, Jr.

"Sweet Seduction"

Underappreciated admin Jeannie Carmichael finds romance--and passion--where she least expects it: Troy Hutchins, quiet, serious...seriously amazing!

Happy holidays, everyone!

Night Owl Reviews Nov, 2010 4.00