Ridgway delights yet again with
this charming, witty tale of holiday romance. Not only are the characters sympathetic, intelligent and engaging, but the sexual tension between the main characters is played out with tremendous skill. The plot is well constructed, and the characters' emotional responses are satisfyingly believable, both in dialogue and in action.

Former town golden girl Bailey returns to Coronado, Calif., to help out with the family business over the holidays. Every single item in her mother's Christmas shop, however, brings out her bah-humbug side. And to make matters far worse, the bad-boy ex-boyfriend from Bailey's youth is also spending this particular holiday season at his childhood home, taunting her at every turn.

Finn fell in love with the "GND" -- girl next door -- years ago, and she smashed his heart into pieces. So what if a decade has passed him by, his most beloved relative is now ill and he's still recovering from being wounded in the line of duty? Finn tells himself he needs nothing and no one to help him heal. But as he finds himself drawn back to Bailey, he discovers she might need even more Christmas magic than he does. What's a man to do but hunt down some mistletoe and try to heat up the cold nights with a little holiday spirit? (AVON, Dec., 384 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Marilyn Weigel