Thursday, April 05, 2012

Review: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

How's everyone? Seems to me the week and blogland have been quiet. Is everyone getting ready for the long week-end? I'm one of those who gets both Friday and Monday off, so this will be an extra long week-end :) I'm planning to relax and rest. I started having vertigo again yesterday... Hopefully, it'll pass soon. By the way, guess what I'm doing tomorrow with friends? Going to watch The Hunger Games! Crossing my fingers that I'll enjoy it :)

Ames recently reviewed Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor and urged me to read the Friday Harbor series. And because it was Ames, I did :) We're now planning a buddy review of Rainshadow Road for next week over at Breezing Through. As a result, I really wanted to review Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor beforehand... and yay, I did it! Enjoy :)

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
published by St. Martin's Press in December 2010

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. 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...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Friday Harbor series, Book #1

The Story: The blurb is pretty accurate. Basically, Holly's mother died and Mark, the oldest Nolan brother, was named as guardian. He never anticipated this situation, never expected to have his own family and has no knowledge of children. Actually, given their experience, he doesn't believe that any Nolan should marry... However, there's no way he'll let Holly end up in foster care and so Mark is determined to do his best. His first move is to move in with his brother Sam, so he'll have support. To their surprise, Mark and Sam fall in love with Holly and she gains their instant devotion. As such, they are concerned that she hasn't spoken a word in six months since her mother's death... That is until she steps into Maggie Conroy's toy store in Friday Harbor.

When Mark finds out Holly's Christmas wish is to have a new mother, he intends to make her wish come true by taking the next step with his girlfriend, Shelby... but despite his best intentions, he finds himself attracted to Maggie. And while Maggie is also attracted to Mark, she has no intention to embark into another relationship. A widow of two years, Maggie lost her husband to cancer... and she never wants to love and feel as much again.

My Opinion: Hmmm, I was quite hesitant to read Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. One reason is I didn't know what to expect and another was the length of the novel; it is quite short. However, after reading Ames' review, I decided to give it a try... and I'm really glad I did.

Basically, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was a very cute and touching contemporary romance with nice characters. I simply loved Holly! She was such a great kid. Once she started talking again, she was very sweet and happy... and I loved how Mark and Sam fell under her charm and how she brought them together. I have the feeling that this 6 years old girl made them better persons :) Their interactions were very cute, warmed my heart and left me smiling. Especially the scene where Holly says her first word in 6 months to Sam! (p34)
Leaning down, Mark murmured to Holly, "Go ask him what's for dinner."
The child obeyed, going to Sam's side and putting her mouth close to his ear. She whispered something and retreated a few steps.
Mark saw Sam go very still.
"You're talking," Sam said, turning slowly to look at the little girl. A questioning note had tipped his husky voice.
Holly shook her head, looking grave.
"Yes, you are, you just said something."
"No I didn't." A titter escaped her as she saw Sam's expression.
"You did it again, by God! Say my name. Say it."
"Uncle Herbert."
Sam let out a breathless laugh and grabbed her, pulling her against his chest. "Herbert? Oh now it's going t to be chicken lips and lizard feet for dinner."
Isn't it sweet? And what I loved best was that Holly teased Sam! I think it shows how well she has adapted, how comfortable she was with her uncles... to be able to tease them, even when it's the first time she talks to him. And Mark and Sam were doing an awesome job :)

Overall, I thought all the characters were quite nice and likable. I wished we'd have a bit more background information on the Nolan brothers, especially Mark. He kept saying stuff about how bad a father and husband he'd be, how they didn't know how to be a family, etc. It obviously alluded to their childhood/experience and their parents, but no details were given and therefore, it was hard to understand his fears and worries, to believe his certitude. I also liked Maggie. She was a very nice and caring woman.Although her behavior and decisions were understandable given the circumstances, I still found her wishy-washy attitude tiresome at times and I thought it was a bit cowardly of her to use Shelby as a shield, a reason why she couldn't be with Mark ^_^; I wished she'd have been more honest to herself. Lucky for her, Mark didn't take no for an answer. Plus, given all her reticence, I thought the timeline of their courtship at the end was very fast! Although with the pacing of the story, it didn't feel that fast...

Finally, I'm going to say that I'm really glad I got Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor as an e-book for 2.99$. The reality is that Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is a novella, not a full-length novel. Had I paid full-price for this book when it came out in hardcover, I would be fuming at the mouth ^_^; And it would definitively have ruined my enjoyment of this book. As it is, I was surprised when the book ended, because I was expecting more and it turned out to be the excerpt ^_^;

My Grade: B-. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was not a perfect novella, but it left me feeling good and smiling :)