COVERT CHRISTMAS (4.5) by Marilyn Pappano, Linda Conrad & Loreth Anne White: Crime, love and Christmas blend together in this anthology, bringing joy to unusual characters. Each story has excellent writing and characterization. Romance needs more like these! In Pappano’s “Open Season,” Natalia and Josh are both running from the mobsters they had worked for — and from the authorities. In a Christmas miracle, they find love and hope. In Conrad’s “Second Chance Sheriff,” Cam Farrell’s 4-year-old daughter dreams her mother is sending a Christmas angel to be her new mommy, when Tara Jackson arrives needing Cam’s help catching a killer in this moving story of love reborn. Reporter Cass is conducting an interview at the American embassy in West Africa when rebel troops kidnap the president. An evacuation is ordered, and the troops arrive, with Cass’ ex-husband Jack leading the evacuation. Jack hasn’t seen her in years, but he still loves her. Will they be “Saving Christmas” in White’s tale?