Here Comes Santa Claus by Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes & Trish Jensen
(Leisure, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-8439-4918-X
****
Here Comes Santa Claus is what the authors refer to as a non-anthology. The authors obviously worked together closely and, despite a few glitches here and there, came out with a funny, complete story written round robin style. The plot concerns three bachelors who are more or less foster brothers to each other. All of them are heading back to Snowden, Maine where the man who helped raise them is about to get married on Christmas Eve.

Since it is almost Christmas and the wedding is in Maine, snow is coming down mercilessly and all three are getting more and more desperate to make it there on time. Enter the Santa Brigade and Brigadeís bus. The Brigade is composed of the senior citizens of Snowden who travel all over the East dispensing Christmas cheer to those who wonít have much otherwise. Nothing ever stops that bus - certainly not a huge snowstorm that shuts down everything else. All that Sam, Kevin and Stan have to do is hitch a ride. Sort of. Itís not that easy to catch a ride.

Sam gets the story off to a slow start but like the bus, once it starts rolling it keeps moving. Sam skydives his way to the bus which is filled with senior citizens and one sexy director of the assisted living facility where those senior citizens live. Sam has been trying to get back to Reba, the director, for years - she is a little less enthused about picking up where they left off. Kevin gets aboard handcuffed to Callie, the woman who has a warrant out for her arrest. Stan snowmobiles his way in with Dana.

Some of the story is way too cutesy, especially some of the senior citizensí antics. Some of the story needed an editor to remind one author that the previous author had already discussed that. Why does it work despite those glitches? Well, the humor and the sex work fairly well. But what makes the story are the menís emotional journeys. Their increasingly desperate attempts to get the women interested in them and the vulnerability under their macho exteriors is actually touching. All of the men have made good despite a tough start but all of the men secretly fear they havenít. Sam, Kevin and Stan may be literally coming home but their romances are what they need to let them emotionally come home, too.

Here Comes Santa Claus is uneven in places but keeps you reading despite that. All three authors are to be congratulated for working together as smoothly as they did. They came up with a holiday treat that is sweet as eggnog but with just enough kick in it to keep the reader from a sugar overdose.

--Irene Williams


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