Skip to main content

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

I won this book awhile back in a giveaway over at The Happily Ever After. It's a slender little hardback novella by Lisa Kleypas, an author I've read all of one book by. To be honest, I wasn't all that enthused by that one, and I haven't been back since. But something about Christine's review of this one made me think it might be time to give Ms. Kleypas another shot. And what better way to do that than with a genre I don't think I've actually ever read before: a Christmas-themed contemporary romance novella? Right? Never say never, though. So it arrived, and I let it sit on my nightstand for a few months (naturally). And (naturally) when it was basically the polar opposite of Christmas, I decided to pick it up and have a go. I was not disappointed.

After his sister dies in a car accident, Mark Nolan finds himself appointed the guardian of his six-year-old niece Holly. Though the Nolan family was never what you'd call tight, he and his brother Sam agree to do their best to raise Holly. After the initial shock wears off, that is. Carting the child back to their home where Mark owns a coffee shop and Sam a fledgling vineyard, the two brothers take up serious unclehood. Enter Maggie Collins. Maggie owns a local toy star and makes the acquaintance of the Nolan threesome when Mark takes Holly there one day to pick out a toy. Maggie and the persistently silent Holly make a connection, and their paths begin to cross over and over again. But attachment to a kid or a man is not anywhere in the cards as far as Maggie is concerned. Having lost her husband to cancer two years ago, she's not remotely interested in risking heartbreak on any level. Not again. But the stars seem to align when it comes to Maggie and the Nolans.

At first I was skeptical. The title, the setup, even the cover gave me the cheesy feelings in abundance. Hence my somewhat subconscious reluctance to pick it up. But the inside didn't make me feel cheesy at all. What it felt was sweet and earnest, which I never object to when it's done well. It was here. The characters were nuanced and strong. The setting was lovely and the writing smooth and incredibly pleasing. My only complaint is that it wasn't longer. I would have quite happily spent more time with Maggie and Mark and Holly and Sam. And I felt like it was a real missed opportunity to open this series with a novella, particularly when Ms. Kleypas had as much excellent meat and potential as she did here. There was just so much more I wanted to more, so much back story and paths left unexplored. But as one of my all-time favorite characters is fond of saying, "Not much meat on her, but what's there is cherce." As it was, I enjoyed every last word of this lovely story, even if in the back of my mind the extended version played with all its haunting possibilities. That said, the re-readability factor actually feels quite high to me. I can easily see myself pulling this slim volume out again at Christmastime and cozying in for a pleasant few hours. In the meantime, I plan on tracking down a copy of the next book in the series (a full-length novel this time)--Rainshadow Road--very shortly. I think this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Buy: Amazon B&N | The Book Depository

Linkage
Babbling About Books, and More - " . . . a sweet and fast read, but it's missing that spark"
Book Obsessed - " . . . a nice, light-hearted read."
The Brunette Librarian - " . . . not to be missed."
Dear Author - "Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor has enough material for a whole novel packed into its shorter length."
The Happily Ever After - "I can't imagine anyone reading this novel and not enjoying the hours spent in Friday Harbor with these characters"

Comments

  1. I love Lisa Kleypas, but resisted reading this one a long time because it looked so twee. But now I'm all caught up on the series and have been enjoying it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Livi, I completely understand holding off. And I'm really happy to hear you've enjoyed the series. Can't wait to continue!

      Delete
  2. You've been hitting the romance stacks lately! I read this back when it came out - liked it, but didn't care so much for the sequel unfortunately. I prefer her historicals, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Li, lol. I have, haven't I? Guess I've felt like a certain kind of read several books in a row. In any case, it's been fun. I'll let you know how I feel about the sequel when I get to it.

      Delete
  3. Sounds like a nice one to read when winter. And I have to admit I love the cover.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol, it would be. I plan on re-reading it this winter, in fact.

      Delete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Review | The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion, Vols. 1 & 2 by Beth Brower

I feel a bit giddy finally talking to you all about this series. If you'll remember, I fell madly in love with The Q  when it came out a few years ago. Now, Beth Brower is writing The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion — a series of novellas set in London in 1883. Each volume is an excerpt from the incorrigible Emma's journals, and the first two volumes are already available with the third on the way soon. I think they'd make rather perfect pandemic reading. Humorous and charming down to their bones, they're just what the doctor ordered to lift your spirits in this uncertain time that just proves to be too much some days. If you're experiencing one of those days, I suggest giving Volume 1   a go (it's only 99 cents on Kindle, $4.99 for a trade paperback copy). It will surprise exactly none of you that I own print and digital editions of both volumes.  Miss Emma M. Lion has waited long enough. Come hell or high water (and really, given her track record,  both a

Review | If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

It's been years since I picked up a Mhairi McFarlane novel, and I'm not really sure why that is. I liked  It's Not Me, It's You well enough (it's obvious she's quite a witty writer), but something about the execution felt off and I think I let that keep me from diving deeper into her backlist. Then came an offer to review her upcoming title If I Never Met You , and something about this one seemed to call out to me. As though it was time. As though Laurie and Jamie might be the ones. Spoiler alert: It was and they were. It was the perfect read for a couple of dreary, grey January days. While not perhaps as bubbly as I've Got Your Number , I would definitely recommend it to readers who enjoyed that novel. They share a business setting, two individuals who are more than they know themselves to be, and a wonderfully slow burn romance. Readers who love Sarra Manning and  Beth O'Leary 's  The Flatshare should also take note. Comedy was tragedy plus

Angie’s Best Books of the Decade

I am winded, you guys. Winded  from laboring over this list. This is the first time I've attempted to cobble together a Best Books of the Decade list, and I can't say I'll be up to it for another ten years or so. But my, I couldn't resist the challenge (or profound pleasure, if we're being honest). I kept trying to winnow it down, kept forcing myself to be ruthless. Like somehow I could (or should) keep it to a top ten (flat impossible) or at least a top twenty-five (who are we kidding?). But after bidding those constraints good riddance, I really did press myself to take a hard, clear look at what hurts (to mangle my favorite Hemingway quote). Because these novels hurt in the best way. Each entry on this list is a five-star book in my books. Which means I wouldn't change a single thing about a single one of them. They are the ones I call perfect when I recommend them to friends and strangers. They are the ones I have read and reread over the past ten years and