Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

Friday, December 7, 2012

About the Book:
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2012
Series: Friday Harbor
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review: At Christmas time, I basically throw out all my “rules” for clever entertainment and settle in for a joyous, delightful string of television films and even, the occasional novel. It’s not traditional for me to read Christmas fiction simply because I get my dose of a holiday cheer “fix” elsewhere but this year I decided it was worth reading at least one novel set at Christmas time and this gem of a novella earned the nomination. Telling a story that has been re-told many a time, Lisa Kleypas weaves a charming tale featuring characters from her “Friday Harbor” novels about Mark Nolan and the responsibility he fills following the death of his sister to his young niece, Holly. Mute since the death of her only parent, Holly is finally drawn out of her shell when the pair meets the vibrant, red-headed toy shop owner, Maggie. Hiding from her own tragic past following the death of a loved one, Maggie and Mark learn that in the magic of Christmas, two people can find healing.

To be honest, I started out loving this story. It was easy-to-read, easy-to-please and an all-around charmer. There wasn’t anything out-of-the-ordinary but it “felt” right. Maggie and Holly’s meeting is a little piece of magic and Mark’s impression of her isn’t so much physical as curiosity – something hard for a secular, or really any author to achieve successfully. The cute flirting between Mark and Maggie remains innocent enough in their serendipitous meetings and Holly’s sweet nature will melt anyone’s heart. Then, things get a bit sticky half of the way through – and turn downright tacky in the final pages of the novel when the author decides her story wouldn’t be complete without a love scene.

This does two things: one it cheapens the story and pits Mark as less-than-a-gentleman. In many ways, that diminishes what were cute albeit “adult” but humorous romantics – secondary though they are, that swept us off our feet, fortunately, it doesn’t take away from the “cute factor” of young Holly who was the center of the story even when she was scarce (and she was absent too often for my tastes). She is what the story surrounds itself with and is the one concession that allows the story to lessen its purity in the “adult” portions. Reading more like a novella even in its 200-something page capacity I rooted for Maggie and Mark to wind up together and sighed with pleasure at the progression of their all-to-fast romance that left me happy and sad at its conclusion – the former because the story held my attention the whole time and was rewarding, and sad that it was actually over. Were it not for the elements that made the novel less-than-wholesome I’ve have given this a perfect rating. It was a poignant read even if it did take the entire book to end on the holiday its title speaks of.

In Summary: Easy-reading, charming dialogue and loveable, “human” character’s makes ‘Christmas Eve’ a delight for any reader who enjoys Christmas fiction.

What to know: There are minor uses of profanity (h*ll, sh*t, a**, da*n) and social drinking – one character becomes tipsy after one drink questioning her dinner date if he’s trying to take advantage. Another thought has a character imagining making love to his companion as well as remarks about having intimate relations and one semi-graphic love scene in the final pages of the next-to-last chapter. 


  1. Great review Rissi! I've seen this book last time I was in the bookstore but I wasn't sure what it was about. Could use some more Christmas-y books this time of year, lol (I shockingly have so few!)

    1. It was really sweet save for the immoral bits, Lianne. For a more wholesome take on the story, none is better than the adaptation from Hallmark Hall of Fame - the movie was precious.

      You and I have that in common: I rarely read any Christmas novels but I enjoyed this one and I think I have one other also. It's too busy to get much reading done these days. :)

      Thank YOU for reading!

  2. I totally agree with your opening sentence! I also watch and read a lot of 'fluff' around Christmas! This one sounds sweet, but I've already got my fill for this year on my nightstand.

    1. Yes, I watch TONS of "fluff" type of films around this time, Birdienl. I make fun of them but they're really indicative of what "wholesome" means. And that is to their credit.

      This novel was sweet - I wouldn't mind reading more Christmas fiction but don't. Do you have any recommendations?

    2. At the moment, I have on my nightstand (but not yet read, so I don't know if I can recommend them)Coming Home from Patricia Scanlan and The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall (she's an Amish fiction novelist and she has three other Christmas novellas out). In the last years I read Silver Bells by Luanne Rice (of which adaptation you did a movie review last year, the book is much better than the movie!) and Comfort and Joy from Kristin Hannah (which was so-so)

    3. Thanks for the recommendations, Birdienl. I like the Silver Bells film so perhaps I should check into the book. :)

    4. Hello Rissi! Hope you've had a wonderful Christmas! I finished both the books I told you about previously, so I thought I'd come back and let you know whether I recommend them or not. About Coming Home by Patricia Scanlan: absolute recommendation! A wonderfully sweet story about the importance of family, with a sweet romance. I've always loved Irish authors and Patricia Scanlan does not dissapoint. I'm even thinking about picking up some other books by her. The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall was also nice. This was my first Cindy Woodsmall book and her writing style is different from other Amish writers, such as Wanda Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis and I liked the style. The story is touching, the characters not very well fleshed out (but it is a novella after all). It's not really a Christmas story, but it does end at Christmas.

    5. Hello, Birdienl! Thanks so much for that - I really appreciate it!

      For some reason, I've never gotten "into" the world of Amish fiction though I cannot say why exactly. 'Coming Home' sounds adorable - I always love sweet-natured romances! And a setting at Christmas? What could be better!? Recently I read a novel about Irish immigrants though it was not a Christmas novel.

      So glad you let me know. Now... I must look it up on Amazon. :)


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