Release Date: October 26, 2010
Purchase Links: Amazon l Kindle l Barnes and Noble l Nook
The first book in a new contemporary series by Lisa Kleypas, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is the beginning of new lives for 3 brothers who have just lost their only sister in a car accident. In a surprising twist of events, the eldest brother, Mark Nolan, finds himself the guardian of his niece as per his sister's wishes. Realizing that his condo and way of life is unsuitable for six year-old Holly, he quickly packs up and moves in with his protesting brother Sam.
Fast forward about six months later and Holly still hasn't spoken, until a trip to a new toy store and a chance meeting with its owner, Maggie Conroy. With only a few words, Maggie has Holly talking again, much to Mark's surprise and dismay, because he's already in a relationship. Maggie is not only attractive but obviously very good with children. To make matters worse, Christmas is closing in fast and Holly has already written to Santa and what she wants both shocks and saddens Mark, she wants a mom for Christmas.
Mark, trying to give Holly what she wants and needs, begins to contemplate marriage, to the wrong woman. What ensues is a story of 3 broken people who help heal each other in order begin new, happy lives together.
Let's get one thing straight, this is NOT like Lisa Kleypas' historical romances. Where her historicals have plenty of passion and angst in them, 'Christmas Eve' has less passion and more emotional angst. It's more relate-able and realistic. I can honestly say that this is a book that men can read and even relate to because of Mark and his clueless way of trying to raise a little girl after spending his whole life looking out for only himself and never having had the experience of a warm, loving family. Mark's heart is in the right place ALL of the time, it's his execution that needs work desperately. He wants to give Holly a stable family life but instead of looking for the right woman for both of them, he immediately latches onto the woman he's been seeing, never really thinking if she would be good to Holly. That's something that men and women can relate to. The need and desperation to find a parental figure for a child in their care that can sometimes lead to missing the right one all along.
I was surprised that I liked this book as much as I did. I don't read contemporaries all that much and this one is so different than what I'm used to. Although it is classified as a romance novel, I don't particularly think it reads as one. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor reminds me of a Lifetime movie, which isn't always a bad thing. It has the right balance of human emotion, drama and angst, and even if there really isn't passion between Mark and Maggie until nearly the end of the book, it is still a heartwarming story about two lonely, broken adults and the broken child who brings them together to heal.