Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, by Lisa Kleypas

>> Tuesday, April 03, 2012

TITLE: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
AUTHOR: Lisa Kleypas

COPYRIGHT: 2010
PAGES: 211
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: First in Friday Harbor series

ONE LITTLE GIRL NEEDS A FAMILY
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.

ONE SINGLE MAN NEEDS A WIFE
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.

SOMETIMES, IT TAKES A LITTLE MAGIC...
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.

...TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE
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...
I've been hearing really good things about the first full-length novel in this series, Rainshadow Road, so I thought I'd best read this novella prequel first.

The book starts just after Mark Nolan's sister has died in an accident, leaving a 6-year-old daughter behind. Mark knows nothing of kids and proper families, since growing up, his family had not been much of one. Still, he feels duty-bound to take little Holly in, and guilts Sam, one of his brothers, into letting them both move into Sam's big old house, which is on the same San Juan island where Mark is living.

Six months later, Holly seems ok, except for the fact that she hasn't said a word since the accident. That all changes when they find themselves in Maggie Collins' toy shop, and Maggie manages to connect to the little girl.

Maggie has recently moved to the island, after her husband's death two years earlier. She feels the connection to Holly as well, and there certainly is something there when she looks at the little girl's uncle. However, she hasn't quite recovered from the tragedy of her husband's death, and doesn't want to fall in love again.

This was cute. Too cute, actually. I liked the setting and it was a quick read, but honestly, I felt absolutely no connection to the characters. I liked them fine (they're so inoffensive they're impossible to dislike!), but just wasn't interested in them. They're boring, especially Maggie. At least Mark has his relationship with his brothers.

There is no real conflict, either. Mark has a girlfriend when he and Maggie meet, but the writing was on the wall with that one, and there's never a sense that there will be any problem at all with that. As for Maggie, her resistance to falling in love ends up being something she can push aside at will, and her feelings just didn't ring true to me. I think all this might have worked a bit better in a longer book, with time to explore these things properly. The development felt rushed here.

Also, the whole thing felt full of clich├ęs. I mean, a little girl who asks Santa for a mommy? And that scene where Maggie, after a couple of minutes can make her speak, when her uncle has been trying for months? Spare me.

Eh, well, my saccharine and bland might be someone's heartwarming, but now I'm actually a bit hesitant about reading Rainshadow Road, A reviews or not. I'm starting to despair with Kleypas. She used to be one of my favourites, but her contemporaries are just not working for me at all.

MY GRADE: A C+.

4 comments:

Shannon 3 April 2012 13:22  

Sadness! I love Lisa Kleypas, so I was hoping this new series would live up to her typical quality. I have a feeling that the reasons it did not work for you would also make the book less than satisfactory for me, as well. Many novellas have this feeling for me. I think it is difficult to create a credible conflict and resolution in such a short format. Here's hoping that the first full book in the series takes all of the good points of the novella and Ms. Kleypas' writing and expands it further.

Ro 4 April 2012 06:39  

Yeah, same here. I've read some very good ones (say, Unlocked, by Courtney Milan), and even some great short stories, but they're just so difficult to get right. Authors often try to just use the same plot they would use in a full-length book, and just get rid of the depth!

Marg 5 April 2012 03:23  

I thought this was nice - which is kind of damning it in some ways. One thing though. I read it through the library but I recall when it came out that it was in hardcover and it was pretty much full price of a novel.

I do have Rainshadow Road out, but again will be reading it from the library.

Ro 5 April 2012 06:27  

Marg: This came from the library, as well, as will Rainshadow Road if I do decide to read it. I just find those itty-bitty hardcovers a huge scam.

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