Season's Greetings is one of three holiday anthologies released this month by BET Books/Arabesque. Holiday Cheer is a reissue of the 1995 anthology with stories by Shirley Hailstock, Rochelle Alers and Angela Benson. Winter Nights, the publisher's first hardcover book, features stories by Hailstock, Francis Ray and Donna Hill. Each collection contains Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve stories. (TRR has reviewed both anthologies.)
What makes this one different, you ask?
Season's Greetings is drawn together by the theme of finding love when and where you least expect it.
Margie Rose Walker's "Stone's Joy" is the story of geologist Stone Henderson and pharmacist Hope Ellison. Stone is plagued with painful memories of the death of his wife and unborn child during the holiday season. Against his better judgment, he goes to Houston's Galleria to pick up some last minute items for his annual out-of-the-country escape from the season. There, he encounters young Faraha Ellison whose mother has "gotten lost."
While Hope frantically searches the mall for her son, the little boy calmly bonds with Stone as they (and the mall security) look for her. Mother and son are soon reunited, but not before Stone gives Hope a tongue-lashing for shoddy parenting. Bah humbug!
By the time the two encounter each other again, both have adjusted their initial impressions of one another. It's a kid and a couple story with a few twists, chuckles and warm fuzzies.
The seven-day celebration of Kwanzaa serves as a backdrop for "Just in Time," Roberta Gayle's innovative take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It's my favorite story in the collection.
Geri Tambray-Smith has problem. Her seven well-meaning uncles have decided that she needs a man and they're planning to introduce her to a different man each night of the family's Kwanzaa celebration.
They want her engaged by her 30th birthday on New Year's Eve.
Geri uncovers their scheme before they have an opportunity to put it in play and concocts one of her own. She'll bring her own man, but who? Wilton Greer is head of the anthropology department at the university where Geri works as an administrator. Although they have had minimal contact with one another, he thinks she's a space cadet; she thinks he's a geek.
In return for his help against her matchmaking uncles, she'll ensure their cooperation with his research on Black veterans. ("The seven dwarfs," as Geri's best friend has named them, have served from World War II to the Gulf War.) The deal is set. Or is it?
"New Year's Eve" by Courtni Wright is the last story in the collection. History teacher Pat Grimes had planned to ring in the new year in a ratty robe and fuzzy slippers correcting papers. Instead, she finds herself on a Caribbean cruise replacing a friend who became ill at the last minute. Pat threatens to be the grinch who stole New Year's Eve until she encounters stockbroker and amateur historian Tom Owens. Things begin to look up as the two explore exotic ports of call and create a little history of their own.
As I mentioned, Season's Greetings is drawn together by the theme of finding love when and where you least expect it. Each story also builds on the notion that first impressions may not always be the best or lasting impressions. A second look is often necessary. I found the stories in this collection to be equally weighted. And, because there are three different stories – one for each holiday – authors don't have to compete with one another for readers' attentions.
If you're looking for stories filled with love, laughter and a bit of the unexpected, Season's Greetings, may be for you.
The Romance Reader has also reviewed:
Public Affair by Margie Walker
Worth Waiting For by Roberta Gayle
The Gamble" by Roberta Gayle in Bouquet (Arabesque's 1998 Mother's Day anthology)
It Had To Be You by Courtni Wright