Sunday, December 03, 2006


Here's a neat little present for everyone, SUGARPLUMS AND SCANDAL anthology. I rarely write short stories or novellas, but enjoyed writing this one and getting to know the other authors a little better. Here's a full rundown, presented by

SUGARPLUMS AND SCANDAL - L. Avocato, D. Cameron, M. Daheim, C. London, S. Macpherson, K. Sparks
ISBN-10: 0-06-113695-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-113695-5
November 2006
Romantic Mystery/Suspense Anthology

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth - Lori Avocato
Hope Valley Connecticut, Present Day

Pauline Sokol has given up a thirteen-year nursing career to become a medical insurance fraud investigator, much to her close-knit Polish family's dismay. It is Christmas Eve when Pauline hears about Leonard Niski, an elderly man who may have been defrauded out of his dentures by a crooked dentist. With her mother Stella's urging "to be a Good Samaritan" and help Mr. Niski get his dentures, Pauline teams up with sexy investigator Jagger to investigate.

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth is a light-hearted mystery with sweet, romantic overtones. When you add humorous characters like Dr. Elfin Santana and Pauline's meddling Polish mother, the result is a frothy, fun romp.

The Lords of Misrule - Dana Cameron
London, December 24, 1722

This Christmas Eve, Margaret Chase is coping with a distraught mother whose new jewelry has been stolen, an overindulging father who has brought home unexpected guests, and a murdered footman. Margaret decides to team up with her brother Tommy and his mysterious friend, Matthew Chandler, to find out which of the guests in the Chase household is a thief and a murderer.

The Lords of Misrule is a well-told, atmospheric who-dun-it. Margaret is a plucky, book-reading lady who is willing to affront society when she feels her point is well-made. Matthew Chandler is a man who appreciates a woman with brains and courage, and is also delighted to be Margaret's special Christmas present from Tommy.

The Ghost of Christmas Passed - Mary Daheim
Pacific Northwest, Present Day

Judith McMonigle Flynn has closed her B&B to paying guests for the Christmas season, but her large extended family is due to arrive shortly. When Judith goes to fetch her mother Gert from the guest house to help with preparations, she is startled to hear Gert say that she's had a visit from a ghost. Judith also notices the unfamiliar plaid muffler lying on Gert's easy chair.

Judith learns about the family's secret history from Gert this holiday, and Gert finds closure after many years of unresolved questions. This is a story of family love, old scandals, and what the best gifts of the season truly are, with all the sweet, cantankerous, odd, and rowdy characters found in most families.

Partners in Crime - Cait London
Dewdrop, Missouri, Present Day

Cecilia Lattimer knows she is on someone's hit list this season. Cecilia's home has been burglarized, all her Christmas gifts are stolen, her car is tampered with, and she gets trapped in an alley by three thugs bent on harming her. Thankfully, large, scary Joe Berenger shows up at the other end of the alley and scares them away. Unfortunately, Joe is a friend of her number one suspect, the new town sheriff, Monroe.

Partners in Crime highlights the quirks of small-town life and of the people who live in them. Misunderstandings, charity, and petty vengeance are all on parade in this charming, sweet, and suspenseful tale.

Holly Go Lightly - Suzanne Macpherson
Seattle, Present Day

Nick Fredericks finds himself singing Christmas carols, loudly, in the shower on Christmas Eve. Nick is on his way home to introduce his fiancée Gwen to his parents. The trouble is singing loud carols is his deceased ex-fiancée Holly's behavior, not his, and Holly keeps popping into his thoughts, so much so that he even smells her perfume. Holly has one shot, as a ghostly visitor, to save the love of her life from making a dreadful mistake and to save her best friend Carol's life. She will do whatever it takes to accomplish both.

Holly Go Lightly reminds us that love can overcome many obstacles. A story of opposites attracted to each other, then parted over something silly, Nick and Holly forgive each other too late. However, Holly has a wonderful Christmas surprise left to give Nick.

A Very Vampy Christmas - Kerrelyn Sparks
New York City, Present Day

Maggie O'Brian has been a vampire since 1872 and has never been physically attracted to any man, mortal or vampire, since. When vampires find a way to project their image digitally, and begin a vampire broadcasting network, Maggie falls in love with soap star Don Orlando de Corazon. Unfortunately, after Maggie gets a job on the show to meet him, she finds out Don Orlando is nothing more than a totally false, womanizing pig. Or is he? The problem is Don Orlando doesn't know what, or who he is. When he was turned into a vampire four years ago, he had complete amnesia, and his memory has never returned.

A Very Vampy Christmas shows us that a sense of self and our roots give our lives definition. When Maggie finds out Don Orlando has amnesia, she opens her heart and vows to give him the gift of both.

The stories in SUGARPLUMS AND SCANDALS share a Christmas theme but vary widely in style and tone. Because the stories encompass different genres, as an anthology it is somewhat incongruous. However, all of the tales have memorable character driven storylines and good resolutions. The highlights are Partners in Crime, Holly Go Lightly and A Very Vampy Christmas, each being well crafted and flowing. For six enjoyable, charming interludes this season, delve into SUGARPLUMS AND SCANDAL.

Jennell Morel


Avon authors from the mystery, romantic suspense, romance and paranormal genres give readers a special holiday treat with tasty tales that demonstrates each author's considerable talent.
Harriet Klausner

**** A wonderful anthology with six tales set around the Christmas Season. I found something for everyone in this novel. No kidding. I read historical romance, mystery, suspense, ghostly spirits, and even vampires. Wonderful holiday reading. ****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.

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