STROKE OF MIDNIGHT

Carly Phillips, Author, Janelle Denison, Author, Jacquie D'Alessandro, Author . Onyx $6.99 (347p) ISBN 978-0-451-41164-8

Bestseller Phillips headlines a collection of three slight but spicy tales of lovers and holiday midnights. In her contribution, movie star Dylan North decides to abandon the fast lane, return to his hometown and reunite with the sweetheart he abandoned a decade earlier. Luckily, despite 10 years of silence, Dr. Holly Evans quickly opens both her arms and her heart to him. Denison's segment focuses on best friends Alyssa Harte and Shane Witmer, who have long denied their mutual attraction. When Alyssa decides to make romantic intimacy her New Year's resolution, Shane takes the opportunity to court her by posing as an Internet secret admirer and using her personal shopping services to tailor his look to her dreams. D'Alessandro rounds out the trio with a classic story of opposites attracting. Party-planner Merrie Langston is as spontaneous as her accountant, Tom Farrell, is conservative and careful. When the man she's booked to play Santa skips town, Merrie presses Tom into service and the two find a bond deeper than their disparate styles. The anthology's segments are too brief to offer satisfying plot arcs or even showcase each author's distinctive voice. Instead, their appeal lies in their playful sensuality (Phillips, for example, offers a sex scene involving Marshmallow Fluff) and a consistently generous helping of warm holiday detail. (Oct. 5)

Forecast: Each of these authors is well known in her own right—Phillips for her lighthearted contemporaries, Denison for her sensual Wilde books and D'Alessandro for her playful historicals—and together they should attract a broad spectrum of romance readers.

Reviewed on: 09/06/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
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