Hot Chocolate
by Suzanne Forster, Lori Foster, Elda Minger, and Fayrene Preston; contemporary (1999)
Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-12452-4

I love chocolate. Nothing beats a cup of hot chocolate (or iced one) on a nice Sunday afternoon. Perhaps maybe Thomas Gibson massaging my feet while Pierce Brosnan is feeding me grapes, but who's complaining? And this anthology has short stories united by the presence of a steamy hot cup of chocolate. Yummy.

Suzanne Forster's Not Abigail! has Abigail doing her best to live up to her name: she does everything from arranging the schedule in her boss Max Gallagher's life to choosing his clothes and watching him take his vitamins. When Max asks her to find him a wife by Valentine's day, Abigail realizes that she's in love with him. And with Grandma Swan's brand of magic love potion mixed in chocolate, Abigail's going to seduce Max.

Hot sexy, and fun. Max's a befuddled gentleman in the tradition of wonderful Harrison Ford in Working Girl archetype, but Abigail's a twit.

Lori Foster's Tangled Sheets is simply Oh-my-oh... whipped cream? sort of story. Whipped cream will never be the same again, not after reading this. Shy, mousy florist Sophie Sheridan has a thing for sexy barkeep Cole Winston and little does she know Cole wants to rip off his shirt and do King Kong impersonation whenever she's around. Cole, in fact, has rigged a Valentine contest. Ladies can apply in this beauty pageant-like thing and winner gets her favorite Winston brother as a date for the night. Where can I sign up? Can I send in multiple entries? I have 5 million entry forms hoarded in my store room.

Cole is determined to persuade Sophie to enter, so that she could be made a winner and is then forced to take him on a date, heh heh. Hey, it's the best he can think of to get that shy and timid woman out on a date with him. Sophie has her own plans. She's bored. She wants to live a little. Without any strings attached, of course, she conjures a twin sister who is the hussy Sophie isn't. Cole sees right through her flimsy disguise and they then cause the whole neighborhood to explode in a ball of fire.

This one is a bit too similar to the other Lori Foster novella Tangled Dreams for comfort, but hey, I'm on a Lori Foster joyride and having the time of my life. These Winston guys can jump out of my birthday cake anytime.

Elda Minger's Buried In Her Heart is a rather disappointing yarn about Abby Sheridan, who wants to be a chef, hooking up with restaurant owner Jack Hayes in a chocolate convention. They fall in love, Jack offers Abby a job and a place in his life, Abby - your usual no-confidence, low-self-esteem ninny - runs away in self-pity and I'm not worthy nonsense. The only persons who can say I'm not worthy without me gagging are Bill and Ted on their bogus adventures. And Abby is definitely not as funny as Bill and Ted. What a whiner.

Fayrene Preston's Ecstasy has Brenna Woods serving up chocolate fudges so good that it sends women into 5 minutes of multiple orgasms. Hey, give me 10 slices. Hayden Garrett wants the recipe, but Brenna refuses to sell-out. This romance doesn't work because I can never shake off the feeling that Hayden wants the recipe more than he wants Brenna, and even more creepy is the way every event that occurs seem to be machinated by Hayden in order to get into Brenna's recipe strongbox (and yeah, maybe into her pants too). Alpha males can be sexy, but Hayden is close to being a first class manipulative jerk.

Two out of four. Not bad really - I think I'll keep this for some rereading sessions, preferably with some nice chocolate and music and Brad Pitt painting my toenails.

Rating: 80

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