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Monday, January 17, 2011

Twas the Night by Sandra Hill, Trish Jensen & Kate Holmes

‘Twas the Night by Sandra Hill, Trish Jensen & Kate Holmes
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (177 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

What do a Blue Angels pilot, a bounty hunter and an ex-NFL football player have in common:? The three bad-boy bachelors of Snowdon, Maine have to make it to a friend's Christmas Eve wedding on time or die trying! They're willing to risk anything to make that happen--even dashing through the snow in the goofiest bus on Earth, bright red and filled with a bunch of merry, meddling senior citizens known as the Santa Brigade. All too soon, these men will have met their matches in three special women: a woman from their past, a forest ranger so hot she out to be declared a fire hazard, and a woman on the run.

Ho, ho, OH!

Com along for the ride, as three unforgettable couples discover who's naughty and nice while serving up holiday cheer with the Santa Brigade.

Three roguish St. Nicks are hoping what they truly want for Christmas will be nestled in their beds after the stockings are stuffed and the gifts placed under the tree.

A story about the holiday season has never been as hilarious as when these three authors conspired to write a romance and came up with a hit that almost defies description – an anthology that isn’t.

I got the biggest kick out of how these three talented ladies wrote this story. It reads as one well put together romance but each author told about their hero and heroine and ran with it while following a single story arc. I am a huge fan of Sandra Hill but I have to tell you, I thought it was going to be easy picking out her unique style and sense of fun and silliness, and it wasn’t. I couldn’t do it. Ms. Jensen and Ms. Holmes obviously have the same funny bone because I could not stop laughing and grinning throughout the entire book and it didn’t matter that I couldn’t tell who wrote what – it was seamless and wonderful.

My first hint that this book was going to be special for me was the wedding announcement. Imagine my surprise that it was being ‘held’ at a church which went by the name of one I attended – another one up in the mountains in an out of the way locale. I thought that was cool. The next is the format. Each chapter is a countdown to the date of that wedding. It was a genius touch. It just goes to show that amazing things can happen in the course of a day’s time.

First a reader will meet Navy Commander Samuel Merrick, a man who comes across as a bit of a Scrooge. Readers will feel for him because although he’s a man to be respected and reckoned with now, he has a back story that will pull the heart strings of any romance reader. The dialogue and repartee is witty, clever and has a natural flow to it. He blew his chance at love the first time around due to his youthful choices and he’s about to get a second chance. Mr. Smooth makes a lot of silly moves and I had a ball watching him court his very skittish miss.

The glue that is tying the entire book together is one man, Mr. George Garrison. He stood by three young troubled boys in their youth and this book celebrates what an early positive influence can have on the men they become.

I love the line about the constipated dog and how it segues into the Santa Brigade, the central story arc. It’s a bunch of senior citizens who travel by bus bringing cheer to people all over. The bus driver is a hoot and I still can’t get over the name the men call her and I can’t even mention it here. I enjoyed how the book almost from the get-go was peppered with colorful and vibrant secondary characters that are like the sprinkles and decorations on my favorite holiday cakes. Even though there are a lot of names and characters, I got to know who was who after a time and I felt like I was on the bus with the guys as they fell in love amidst chaos and snow.

Speaking of which, Sam’s first and only love is Reba Anderson and she’s on that bus. She herself has some unresolved issues from when she was younger but they get put to rest in a spectacular fashion during the course of Sam’s courting her. She certainly didn’t make it easy on the poor guy and I adored her for it.

Next I got to meet Kevin Wilder. He’s a private investigator and bounty hunter and he finds a lot more than he bargained for which of course is why it made for a great story. He too has a back story of why he has the nickname J.D. and it also made me feel sad for him and very glad he was going to get his happily ever after but not until he gets his head on straight. That takes a bit of doing because he’s delightfully sidetracked by an Amish babe. I love what kept happening to his wallet. Just her introduction had me giggling. She turns out to be Callie and she is a lot more complicated and amusing. I had a laugh-fest with her rendition of ‘German’ words. It prompted some seriously cute dialogue between her and Kevin. And that was just the beginning. She was a wonderful addition to the Santa Brigade and it made Kevin really take stock of his life and what was truly important. In the end he had to face what his heart wanted and had to decide if it was worth the choice he had to make. What a wonderful bit of romance that was!

The last guy I met was Stan Kijewski an ex-football star who is in the middle of trying to come to terms with the tragic turn his life took. He’s got his pride and doesn’t want to let anyone know how much he’s hurting on the inside, never mind on the outside. He was doing well at faking it until two things happened. He met Dana Freeman and found himself also joining the Santa Brigade because he also wanted to get to George’s wedding in time. The funny thing about their relationship is that Dana knows exactly who Stan is and she certainly has her own opinions about him but for some reason their wires are crossed and they keep getting mixed signals about each other. That was total entertainment because they both really liked each other but they thought each hated the other. It’s what it took to make them see the light that made their romance enjoyable and fun to read.

Readers are going to enjoy every step of that bus ride along with Sam, Kevin and Stan, and the women who claim them and who make the guys do magic tricks and get haircuts and other interesting ‘manly’ things. This is the book to read for romance readers who like to laugh and smile while happily sighing from a love story well told – well, in this case three love stories. For me this book has re-readability because of how it made me feel after I was done. I was happy, satisfied and had a silly grin on my face. I don’t have to restrict myself to reading this book during the holidays because when I am reading it, it’s a celebration in and of itself. Sometimes the best things in life come from when you are doing good things for other people. I think these three authors are due for good times because they certainly provided me with some.

In a nutshell, ‘Twas the Night is a sensational and humorous romance that’s a must read for all readers who love the humor of Ms. Hill. Get ready for a great time.