Book Source: Public library (I’ve since bought the e-book.)
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is a sweet, feel-good, light contemporary romance — and more of a novella than a novel. Had I purchased it, in hardcover, I would have been disappointed, both by the length and by the lack of suspense. There’s very little conflict here, very little suspense. Which is both a pity and a surprise, since Kleypas is one of the better writers of historical romance out there. I enjoyed the book, but in the way I might enjoy a sorbet: sweet, but not filling.
I have to wonder if there’s a growing trend toward lighter, less meaty books in the romance genre. The last several offerings by Mary Jo Putney, another writer with a backlist of well-written, substantial historical romances, have also been lighter, less deep and gripping, than her previous novels. If this is indeed a trend, I’m not happy about it. I only read a few romance authors, and those because they write entertaining, rich stories with good character development, which happen to fall in the “romance” genre.
I don’t object to light in the sense of funny, light-hearted; a number of Julia Quinn’s romances are laugh-out-loud funny at times, but the characters and the novels have substance. What I find less than satisfying are books that only skim the surface, whether they are romances, mysteries, fantasy, or what-have-you. A good work of fiction should pull you in, make you temporarily a resident of its world, involve you in the lives of its characters. If you remain detached, watching at a distance rather than becoming immersed, then the author hasn’t quite done her job. What’s truly disappointing is a surface-skimming book from an author that I know, from past experience, can do more. So while I enjoyed Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor while I was reading it, it left me feeling a little empty — like eating that sorbet when what I really wanted was a meal.