A Long Hot Christmas
by Barbara Daly
(Harl. Temptation #859, $3.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-25959-X
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Hope Sumner is an all work and no play kind of gal. Working in the marketing department at Palmer Pipe (as in plumbing pipe) she’s one of the candidates for the vacant vice-presidency. Being upwardly mobile, she’s determined to get that job, although all her sisters can think about is fixing her up for the holidays.

Sam Sharkey is an upwardly mobile lawyer who has his eye on a partnership at his prestigious law firm. Also, all work and no play, Sam realizes that he’s going to need some “arm candy” to make it through the myriad of holiday parties he has to attend for business. Frankly, he’s tired of being eyed like a juicy prime rib by his co-workers wives and their single female relations.

Meeting through her sisters, and one of his former clients, Sam and Hope strike up a bargain. They’ll help each other out, attend their mutual holiday functions together, be each other’s bodyguards, and that will be that. However, nothing ever goes according to plan in a romance novel, and the couple soon find themselves getting more than they bargained for.

What a fun holiday read! Hope and Sam are both notorious workaholics who have managed to suck all the fun out of life. They both have goals, ambitions, and their futures seemingly planned out. Then they meet, sparks fly, and all those plans go flying out the window.

Along with the bubbling sexual tension, are some nicely done subplots that aid in moving this category along. Hope has hired a feng shui expert to redecorate her uncomfortable apartment, and gets a bit of a surprise when she meets her for the first time. There’s also a legal battle involving Palmer Pipe and Sam’s law firm, which gives the couple some added conflict, allowing them to reexamine their priorities.

A Long Hot Christmas fits the bill nicely for a fun and frothy read. A nice romantic couple, and a memorable interior decorator made for a quick read with holiday spirit. The author appears to be working on future books featuring Hope’s single sisters - here’s hoping she doesn’t make readers wait until next Christmas.

--Wendy Crutcher


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