“Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor” by Lisa Kleypas

January 19, 2011 Uncategorized 0

Category: contemporary romance

Series: Friday Harbor #1

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.

The books in the Friday Harbor series, in order (links go to reviews on this blog):

  1. Christmas Eve in Friday Harbor
  2. Rainshadow Road
  3. Dream Lake (this review)
  4. Crystal Cove (this review)
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