Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was a lovely little morsel to get me into the Christmas spirit (or at least more into it, since I've already started listening to Christmas music on the satellite radio--I'm a Christmas junkie. What can I say?). It was also a great introduction to Ms. Kleypas' new contemporary series. I am very happy with it, and eager to read about Mark's brothers finding their HEAs.
I really loved the heart-warming vibe of this story. I love books that show the incredible bond that can form between a man and a woman (or any group of people who become their own family), and encompass children, either through their own union, or that they have brought into their lives. This book was definitely one of those stories. I have never felt that family has to be limited to the traditional idea of a nuclear bond. Blood bonds are important, but are completely unnecessary in forming a family. This book has that message.
Mark has the magnetic charisma that Ms. Kleypas is so stellar at endowing her heroes with. He also has a little bit of the tortured hero to him, not much, but enough. His family life wasn't great, and after losing his sister, he has taken on the role as guardian to her daughter Holly, not sure if he's up for it, but determined to do his best. Somehow, along the way, his heart is changed from the man who barely does the family thing, to a father who would do anything for his daughter, even if she's only his niece. And his brother Sam also finds an incredible sense of purpose through helping to raise Holly.
What's interesting is the dynamic between Mark, Holly, and Maggie. Initially it seems as though Maggie will be the fairy godmother who comes and makes everything right with Mark and Holly. But it turns out that Mark and Holly do a lot of healing for Maggie, who is still trying to recover from losing her husband, and has sworn off marriage and having kids of her own, afraid and believing she has nothing left to give.
Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite authors for a reason: She knows her stuff. When I read her books, I am getting a full experience. She puts the heart, a wonderful, exciting love story, the beautiful description, a great, engaging narrative, humor, and pathos all there for me to enjoy. She has a wonderful way with words, a skilled artist who paints a visually-arresting landscape with her prose. Her books never feel flat to me, they are as three-dimensional as if I was there in the scene. I have discovered this sudden urge to go to Washington and explore Friday Harbor, and hope that I will walk past Maggie's toy store, or Mark's coffee-roasting business. I want to look up Rainshadow Vineyard while I am in town. I don't know when I'll get to Washington, but I know I will definitely want to revisit Friday Harbor and its inhabitants again, and this book is short enough to pick up every year to get that lovely Christmas spirit infusion, and to stop by and visit with my new friends that I have made.
If you need a little pick-me-up, and a book to remind you why Christmas is more than just a hassle and a marketing gimmick, but a wonderful time of year to enjoy family and friends, and to remember the most important thing about the season, you will find that in Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. Because this book shows the power of love to warm hearts and to make bonds where there was no hope for a sense of connection. The power of love to heal what is broken. If you don't believe me, just give this book a read.
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