Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, by Lisa Kleypas

January 19, 2011 Book Reviews 0 ★★★

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, by Lisa KleypasChristmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Friday Harbor #1
Published by St. Martin's Press Genres: Christmas, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 211
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library
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Also in this series: Rainshadow Road, Dream Lake, Crystal Cove
Also by this author: Rainshadow Road, Dream Lake, Crystal Cove, Cold-Hearted Rake, Marrying Winterborne, Devil in Spring, Hello Stranger, Devil's Daughter, Chasing Cassandra, Devil in Disguise


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 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 slightly disappointed, both by the length and by the lack of…intensity, for want of a better word. There’s very little conflict here, very little for the characters to resolve.  Which is both a pity and a surprise, since Kleypas is one of the better writers of historical romance out there.  I did enjoy the book, but in the way I might enjoy a sorbet: it’s 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 I read 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 or 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 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.


NOTE: Review slightly revised on 4/22/2019


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 
  4. Crystal Cove




About Lisa Kleypas

LISA KLEYPAS is the RITA award-winning author of 35 historical and contemporary romance novels. Her books are published in more than 20 languages and are bestsellers all over the world.

A graduate of Wellesley College with a political science degree, Lisa was chosen as “Miss Massachusetts” for the 1985 Miss America contest. She published her first novel at age twenty-one. Lisa lives in Washington State with her husband; they have two children.

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