Monday, December 13, 2010

Review: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
Lisa Kleypas
Contemporary Romance

Friday Harbor/Book 1

St. Martin's Press/October 2010

From the inside cover ~


One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother, Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.


The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.


Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.


Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home. . . .

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is short, more like novella length. It's in hardcover which makes it a library read for me. And I wasn't able to find out for certain when the next book in the series is due out. Fantastic Fiction shows Rainshadow Road as the next book, release January 2012! Anyone know for sure? I honestly have no idea what the publishers were thinking releasing this in hardcover (more $$$ probably). I wouldn't pay for it and I consider myself a huge Lisa Kleypas fan. It is a sweet story in what seems to be the beginning of a wonderful contemporary series but at this length should have been in an anthology.

Mark Nolan has his life just how he wants it with a thriving business and a beautiful girlfriend, he thinks he has it all. Then he's thrown into fatherhood when his sister dies and names him as his niece's guardian. Mark not only needs to learn how to take care of a six year old girl, he also needs a bigger place for them to live. So he and his niece Holly move in with Sam Nolan, Mark's brother. Sam lives in an old house on the vineyard he runs. The two brothers do their best to take care of Holly but after months of trying they still can't get her to talk. Both Mark and Sam are likable characters in that they didn't know what to do with this little girl they were suddenly responsible for but they did everything they could. They didn't complain or treat Holly like it was her fault, instead they adjusted their lives for her, trying to give her as much stability as possible. Mark was named guardian so he's in charge of Holly's care and in the parent roll where Sam stays in the uncle roll. Both men have hunky hero written all over them but this time it's Mark's turn.

Maggie Collins is just what the doctor ordered to help Holly come out of her self imposed silence. Maggie seemed to know exactly what to say and do to get Holly to talk in a matter of minutes when Mark and Sam had not luck after months of trying. Maggie was just a little too perfect except for her one big flaw, her belief that she had no love left to give. She was still grieving the loss of her husband and I'm not sure why, when she was so open and approachable, did she think she couldn't love again. I get thinking that she wasn't ready but to completely write-off ever loving again seemed extreme. It would have been more believable if she had closed herself off to people but she interacted with people everyday and really enjoyed it her job.

So Maggie starts spending more time with Mark and Holly until they slowly become this little family unit. Maggie tries to keep some distance but you really can't have Holly without Mark being in the picture and to a lesser extent Sam and even grumpy Alex the third Nolan brother. The romance of Mark and Maggie is subtle. They develop a friendship first, through Holly. If the story had been longer, the romance could have had the time needed for it to develop, as it was, it felt incomplete. As if we got the pared down version and somewhere out there is the full length version.

I'm not sure how to grade this one. I liked what was there but... it was so darn short and had such potential for more. This poor reader simply doesn't understand why it was not written as a full-length novel - Kleypas certainly has the talent. The romance definitely could have been more fleshed out - near the end of the book felt like that's where the romance really began. Before that it was friendship, which is always good but I would have liked to see more of what comes after the friendship. On the other hand, it did leave me wanting Sam and even surly Alex's stories so in that respect, it worked. I can only hope their stories are novel length with more romance.

Rating: B

FYI ~ Something odd I found at Fantastic Fiction when looking for info on the next book in the series. The blurb for Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is different than the book. I wonder why the change?


  1. I think the general reaction from fans was: "too short."
    For a hardback, I expected a lot more bang from my buck.

  2. Danielle ~ The sad part is that it easily could have been longer. I'm not surprised that there were some not so happy fans.

  3. It's St. Martin's Press. Seriously, I don't know what that publisher thinks... It often releases those very short stories in HC. Grrrr.

    Anyway, January 2012 seems to be right. Apparently, Ms Kleypas is taking the year 2011 off.

    I'm probably just going to skip this book entirely. At first, I thought it was regular length - more a la Travis family novel... however, finding out it's one of those tiny HC, I'm going to skip... especially since the story is not really pure romance.

  4. Nath ~ a whole year - wow. Guess they'll release this one in paperback right before the next one releases.

    This is one of those smaller hc. Just over 200 pages. Like Mary Balogh's A Matter of Class.

  5. Leslie, thanks for this review. I wasn't sure about buying this one because the blurb didn't quite do it for me. I don't mind buying a smaller book like this one IF it's a good romance and it's a complete story, but it doesn't sounds as if that's the case here. I'm not sure I'll be getting this series... yet. I'll wait for the second book. :D

  6. I know, I've seen it in the store. Actually, it's pretty much like the Wallflower Christmas book that Ms Kleypas released last year... and let me tell you, the paperback came out and seriously, shame on the publisher.

    The Mary Balogh from last year was okay in my opinion because the publisher is more obscure. They don't have tons of books coming out... while St. Martin's Press is really well-established and keep doing this to the readers :( Sherrilyn Kenyon - some of her Dream Hunter books, Janet Evanovich - the Plums between number, now Lisa Kleypas...

  7. Hils ~ I think waiting is a good idea unless you can get it at the library. With the next one not due out for a year, waiting is probably the best option.

    Nath ~ I'd forgotten about the Wallflower Christmas book. It was thin & hc. I have it but got it used for $2.

    Yes, Kenyon has had a few that were mmp, very short and the fonts were big. And still they were marketed like full length novels at that price.

  8. How did I miss this review?

    I'm with you, I loved everything about this story, except for the short length. I was lucky that someone passed their ARC to me when they were finished, but I don't think I would have been happy to pay hardcover price for this one.

    I seriously wish she'd write Joe Travis' story. Seriously. How can she [Ms. Kleypas] sleep at night knowing she's leaving all of us hanging like this??!