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Making Spirits Bright    by Fern Michaels & et al order for
Making Spirits Bright
by Fern Michaels
Order:  USA  Can
Zebra, 2011 (2011)
Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Fern Michaels headlines this collection of four short, holiday stories that serve up equal parts of romance and Christmas cheer. In the title story, Michaels introduces Melanie McLaughlin who really wants to make it a happy holiday for two orphaned siblings by adopting them and giving them a real home. Enter Bryce Landry, who agrees to a just-for–the-holiday marriage so that Melanie can make her Christmas plans a reality for the children. What is intended to be just a fleeting relationship turns into something much more serious and permanent. Of course, this is a good thing because the charade Melanie was planning wasn't going to have the desired effect anyhow!

The next story, Runaway Christmas by Elizabeth Bass, finds the owner of a small café planning a quiet Christmas at home alone. Heidi Bogue wants to lounge in her pajamas, catch up on some movies and drink a little wine on December 25th. All that changes when her teenage niece shows up on the doorstep and a snowstorm turns Heidi's café into a community refuge. Toss a strikingly handsome cop into the mix and Heidi's plans are going to be radically altered, but, as you'll see, she doesn't really mind at all!

Jo Truman needs a stand-in Santa for her gift shop's Christmas Eve party since the man she hired for the job can't make it. In Home For Christmas by Rosalind Noonan, this resourceful shop owner is going to do whatever it takes to find a replacement Santa. This means convincing lonely soldier Sam Norwood that he would be the ideal person to slip into Santa's clothing, don a white beard and do the 'Ho,ho,ho!' bit. Sam's not so sure this is a good idea, but it is Christmas so he agrees to give it a try. Of course, Sam's about to discover that this doesn't have to be such a lonely time of the year after all!

Finally, the last feel good story in this collection, Nan Rossiter's Christmas On Cape Cod, centers on Maddie Carlson who is going to be spending Christmas with her best friend Asa Coleman and his young son. The trio is heading to Asa's parents house where a series of surprises await everyone who will be celebrating the holiday in the household. While Asa's little boy is going to receive a very special gift, perhaps the biggest surprise awaits Maddie. It appears that a long, platonic relationship is about to turn into something quite different!

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