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Red Hot Santa: Snowball's Chance/Santa Slave/Runaway Santa/Killer Christmas (Romance Collection) Mass Market Paperback – October 25, 2005

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; a edition (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345483499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345483492
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,600,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Cherry Adair has garnered numerous awards for her innovative action-adventure novels, including Hot Ice, Out of Sight, In Too Deep, Hide and Seek, and Kiss and Tell. A favorite of reviewers and fans alike, she lives in the Pacific Northwest where she is at work writing the next T-FLAC mission. Visit the author’s website at

USA Today bestselling author Leanne Banks has also seen seven of her titles hit #1 on the Waldenbooks bestseller list. The author of more than forty novels and novellas, Banks celebrates the debut of her exciting new single title, Feet First, in 2005. Visit the author’s website at

Award-winning author Pamela Britton writes historical and contemporary romances. The New York Daily News named Pamela’s debut NASCAR romance, Dangerous Curves, one of the “hottest new reads.” Visit the author’s website at

USA Today bestselling author Kelsey Roberts is consistently the top seller for Harlequin Intrigue and garners rave reviews and awards for her snappy dialogue and nail-biting suspense. Roberts has been featured in The Washington Post Book World and The New York Times and on local and national television and radio. Visit the author’s website at

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Joe Zorn stamped snow off his frozen booted feet as he impatiently jiggled the door handle. Locked. A damn good thing considering that, despite the nationwide manhunt under way, a serial killer was even now finding his way through the storm to this Nowhere, Montana, ranch.

It wasn’t a case of if Dwight Treadwell would show. It was a case of when.

Although he was standing beneath the deep porch overhang, the howling wind whipped snow down Joe’s collar and snuck under the hem of his coat as it flapped around his ankles. He shuddered with cold. Which didn’t bother him nearly as much as finding the place lit up like a damned Christmas tree.

Joe glanced around the porch. His new assignment, party planner Kendall Metcalf, must’ve bought out every Christmas and craft store between Bozeman and Billings.

There was Christmas crap everywhere.

Might as well have a frigging flashing red neon arrow pointing to the house. Here I am. Come and get me!

Damn it to hell.

He kept one hand in his left pocket, fingers loosely clasping the grip of his custom-made HK Mark 23. He would rather shoot a hole through his favorite coat than have someone open the door to find a large, armed man standing on the other side.

It worried Joe only marginally that he hadn’t been able to reach the Camerons before he left the ski lodge, or that he didn’t have their cell numbers. High winds and snow storms frequently messed with the phone lines way the hell and gone out here.

Hunching into his coat, he jabbed at the doorbell. “Get the damn lead out, people.” When that didn’t elicit an immediate response, he thumped his fist on the door a couple of times, making the oversized Christmas wreath dance. “Open the damn d—”

He heard the faint beeps from inside as the security alarm was deactivated. The door swung open, spilling golden light and the hot, unmistakable fragrance of cookies baking onto the front porch. Joe’s heart did a hard thump-thump as he got his first look at the Amazon who was his charge.

Kendall Metcalf was luscious. Every curvy, magnificent inch of her. Her hair, the reddest Joe had ever seen, spilled over her shoulders like liquid fire. Her feet were bare, and black leggings accented every incredible inch of her long, long, long legs. A red sweater proclaimed, in cursive white script across a mouthwatering chest, ho ho ho y’all.

Before he could get on her case for opening the door without checking to see who was out there first, she grabbed him by the hand, practically dragging him inside. “Lord, am I happy to see you.”

Joe would have been ecstatic to see Attila the Hun at this point. His freaking nose was numb. He stepped into the warmth, booted the door shut, locked it, and pressed the reactivate button on the alarm before turning around to face her. The smell of Woman overlaid the smell of pine, vanilla candles, and baking. His temperature shot up in response, warming him much faster and more efficiently than a hot shower. But not quite as fast as his anger that she’d opened the door without ascertaining who the hell was knocking. Jesus.

“Lord. You must be a popsicle,” she said cheerfully, oblivious to his stony look. “Let’s get you defrosted.” She glanced at the control panel, apparently saw the light was on, frowned slightly, then headed across the vast entry hall toward the kitchen. Without turning to see if he was following.

“I just put my millionth pot of coffee on. I’m always addicted when it’s this cold, aren’t you? Here, can I take your co— No, you’re right. Keep it on until you thaw. This way.”

She’d taken her sweet time answering the door, but now that he was inside, she moved at the speed of light and hadn’t yet paused to take a breath. Which suited Joe just fine. He was a man of action and few words. He suspected she wouldn’t like either by the time this was over.

The house was blessedly warm, and smelled mouthwatering. The scent of Christmas was everywhere, but that wasn’t the fragrance making him salivate. She smelled as clean and fresh as . . . he frowned as he followed her into the kitchen. Some kind of . . . fruit? Yeah. Pears or something. Fresh and clean and—Jesus, he was losing it—juicy. She walked over to pour him a huge mug of coffee, bringing it back to the center island where another half-filled mug sat beside a baking sheet of hot-from-the-oven cookies. Joe removed his hat, then unbuttoned his coat. The kitchen was warm, and looking at Miss Metcalf kept his body temperature several degrees above normal.

“Black, I bet.” She handed him the mug. The most bizarre current of electricity passed from her fingers to his, shooting directly to his groin. Her eyes widened in surprise. It sure as hell shocked the hell out of him, and he almost dropped the mug.

Joe tightened his fingers around the heat of the Christmas mug, which still had a $3.99 price sticker from Ross stuck on the side. He peeled it off and stuck it on Denise’s sludge green–black granite counter top. Denise did not shop at discount stores. Never had.

“That’s what I thought,” Kendall said.

He hadn’t opened his mouth. He presumed she was still discussing his coffee choice. “Yeah. Thanks. Where—” “Are Denise and the kids?” she finished for him. Them, too. But he’d been referring to the cops. “She and Adam took them over to Denise’s mother’s for a couple of days. They’ll be back in the morning. It’s been insane here trying to get ready for the party tomorrow night, and all the guests, et cetera. You know how it is.” She laughed, a bright, robust laugh that did ridiculous things to Joe’s stomach before moving lower.

Whoa! Back off, pal.

She sat her quite delectable ass half on, half off a stool, then, without looking away from his face, picked up the spatula to slide cookies from the sheet onto a plate painted with some sort of large brown Christmas animal.

Her hands were pale and slender, her nails long and painted Christmas red. Sexy as hell. What wasn’t sexy were the defensive wounds marring her smooth skin. The obscene scars were thin and silvery, and there were dozens of them. On the back of her hands, on her palms, on her fingers, and on her wrists. Joe sucked back a black rage.

“Help yourself,” she told him, pushing the baking sheet an inch closer to his hand. “I just made them for something to do. The electricity has been iffy with the storm. Good thing they have a generator. I’d go completely ape shi—nuts with nothing to do.”

He’d thought that if the cops couldn’t get to the ranch, he’d at least have Denise’s husband here as backup. He and Adam had been in the Marines together, and Joe trusted his friend at his back. He shouldn’t have trusted his friend with his wife, but that was old news and water under the bridge.

“Are you alone in the house?” he demanded, straining to hear any noise to indicate someone was either upstairs or in any of the other rooms downstairs. All he heard was her sudden indrawn breath over the soft singing of Christmas carols from the battery-operated emergency radio on the counter. “Some of the guests arrived before the storm,” Kendall said, a little more cautious now. “The guys are upstairs,” she told him without a blink. She might as well have added Cleaning their guns.

Since she’d let him instead of one of the local cops he’d spoken to en route, Joe now knew damn well she was alone. Fuck it to hell. So they hadn’t been able to make it through before the storm hit. Which meant he and Kendall were alone in the six-thousand-square-foot house with a killer on the loose. Clearly she wasn’t aware that Treadwell had escaped. No wonder she’d opened the damn door.

If the local cops couldn’t get to the ranch, nobody could, not with the snowstorm raging. But dollars to donuts Treadwell was out there. Somewhere. Storm or no storm. Joe figured they had at least twelve hours before the situation turned to shit.

The fact that Kendall was trying to bluff him into believing she wasn’t alone—now, when he was already inside—made Joe’s blood boil. Not only wasn’t she supposed to be alone. She should be far, far away.

Curling an arm about her waist in an unconsciously protective gesture, she took a sip of her coffee, holding her mug to her mouth as she watched him over the rim. Alone, yet she had on all her warpaint. It was subtle, but . . . there. She didn’t need it, Joe thought, almost mesmerized by large sparkling hazel eyes staring at him unblinkingly. Her lips were a pale pink. He wondered if her nipples were the same rosy color. Jesus. He brought his erotic thoughts back in line.

She took another sip of coffee. “I can’t tell you how great it is that you agreed to do this on such short notice, Don. Really. Thank you. My guy backed out at the last— What?”

The timer went off in a strangely karmic way as he corrected mildly, “Joe.”

Her brow wrinkled briefly. “Yeah, I know,” she shouted over the noise. “Snow was one of Preston’s reasons for not coming. But still, you’d think a guy from New York would know how to drive in a little snow, wouldn’t you?” She slid off the stool, slapped a hand on the buzzer, and grabbed a pair of oven gloves. Every vestige of saliva in Joe’s mouth...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kristi Ahlers on November 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Red Hot Santa" is not your average holiday anthology. This fast read has four entertaining stories that are connected by an agency that protects those that can't help themselves. It's a bonus that these four strong men are able to find love during the holidays.

Cherry Adair's "Snowballs Chance" is the story of Kendall Metcalf. She survived a serial killer who tried to kill her, she is trying to get her life back on track but when the killer escapes prison and heads for her Kendall she will need Joe Zorn to keep her safe. But who's going to protect him from the attraction he feels for this lady in distress?

"Santa Slave" brings agent Rick Santana into play when Hilary goes under cover to find her best friend after she goes on a job interview for a white slaver. Will Hilary and Rick managed to save her friend, or will heat get in the way?

"Big Bad Santa" is not your average santa story. Vet Kaitlyn Logan has come up with a research project that appeal to a terror group. When handsome Chance Owen rides in on his Harley to save the day, Kaitlyn has to wonder just how bad her santa rescuer really is.

"Killer Christmas" describes the holiday atmosphere for an upscale department store. Santa's are being killed but why? Will the killer be found before Meghan becomes the next victim?

These are fast reads that put the "H" in hot holiday reading. This is a perfect escape and fun reading. You won't want to miss this holiday treat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on November 8, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Four popular and bestselling authors share with their fans the gift of some scintillating stories. If you enjoy a fast but good read, Red Hot Santa is for you.

The four stories are connected through a covert agency run by Roz Donahue. She is a crusader who, because of a childhood tragedy, is determined to help those who would be victimized. She sends her agents to protect the women in the stories "by any means necessary."

Cherry Adair gives us "Snowball's Chance." A serial killer has escaped from prison and has Kendall in his line of vision. Kendall's business partner decides to provide her with a bodyguard who happens to be one pretty good-looking and sexy guy.

Leanne Banks serves up "Santa Slave." When Hillary's best friend, Christine, disappears after accepting a job overseas, she decides to track her down. The only way Hillary believes she can find her friend is by applying for the same job Christine did. A super sexy guy comes to the rescue when the women find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Pamela Britton authored "Big, Bad Santa.: Biologist Kaitlyn Logan's research is about to see a breakthrough when bullets begin to fly and things begin to explode. The hunk whose job it is to keep her safe is pretty attractive and the line between business and pleasure blur.

Kelsey Roberts wrote "Killer Christmas." Two department store Santas are murdered in two days. The CEO of the store is in danger and Jack is hired to protect her from the same fate as the deceased Santas.

Armchair Interviews says: For a fast, fun read, Red Hot Santa fills the bill.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Anicas on December 28, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved this red hot read. It is a must have to spice up the winter dulldrums for any reader. The sharp witty stories and the page turning suspense is a must have for all of Santa's 'good' women. :)
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By Vanessa Lyle on December 8, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
First of all, this is not a Christmas anthology. This is 4 stories that just happen to occur in December. Christmas isn't a big part of the stories -- at least not the first two, which was all I could read before I added this to the pile of books going to the used book store.

Adair's story had good suspense with a serial killer bent on finishing off his victim from a year before and agent Joe Zorn bent on preventing him from doing it. This should have been a longer story to allow more character development and longer build-up to the climax of the action.

Banks' story was a disappointment in light of her previous books. Her novels are usually full of sensuality and this one was sorely lacking in that department. And it wasn't particularly suspenseful either.

After two disappointing reads, I decided to pass on Britton and Roberts and move along to the next book on the TBR pile.

If you're looking for a good Christmas read, this isn't it. I only give it 2 stars because it's well written. Blah, but well written.
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Format: Kindle Edition
4.5 stars. A little unusual anthology - four different authors with four different short stories, all themed around an agency where the female owner has determined to save other female victims from the bad guys, in situations where the regular police can't handle the job. All four stories tie back to the agency, find a way to work in Christmas/Santa, and are scorching hot romantic suspense stories.

Kendall Metcalf has been the only survivor of a crazy but smart serial killer, who's escaped prison and is en route to finish the job. She's snowed in on site at a big house/party site, when Joe Zorn arrives to protect her. Kendall is a sexy and spunky heroine, and Joe is wonderfully sexy, but the whole thread about him previously having been married to the woman whose house Kendall is in, seemed kind of bizarre and unnecessary.

SANTA SLAVE - Leanne Banks
Hilary Winfree believes a college student she's been mentoring has been kidnapped by a sex slave ring, so arranges to get herself "hired" by them as well. Rick "Chameleon" Santana arrives to buy/rescue Hilary, and ends up being talked into trying to find/rescue Christine, the college student, as well.

BIG, BAD SANTA - Pamela Britton
Dr. Kaitlyn Logan, a vet, has recently applied for grants for her pet project, an implanted microchip for endangered birds that could be used to direct them towards safe areas and away from dangerous ones. Some of the bad guys have gotten wind of this, realizing a) it could work, and b) it could be used as a military weapon. As her clinic is being tear-gassed, Chase Owens rides to the rescue, literally, on a Harley. Loved the sequence where she is having a wet dream about him and he is observing her.
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