Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

Publication Date: October 26th, 2010
St. Martin’s Press
Format: Hardcover, 210 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
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 Conroy 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…

[Sigh] Just another series to fall in love with.

With a pretty easy-to-follow, pretty simplistic plot, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor will leave you just hungry enough to read more about the Nolan brothers.
This follows the story of the oldest Nolan, Mark. After the recent death of the only Nolan girl in the family, Mark found himself the sole guardian for his niece, Holly. Aware that his life was about to change in the big way, Mark tackled the challenge without batting an eyelash. In fact, aside from the fact that he couldn’t get Holly to speak, he was doing a swell job of being Holly’s father. A trip of a toy store and a meeting with a lonely widow changed everything for the better or worse, depending on how you look at it. Better because Maggie, the store owner seemed to have the magical touch and words Holly needed to speak; and worse because Mark’s well thought out plan of finally getting serious with his current girlfriend, Shelby hit a snag. Unable to ignore his attraction with the red-haired toyshop owner, Mark pursued Maggie on the pretense of gaining her friendship. Two years after losing her husband to cancer, Maggie feels like she’s got nothing left to give. She thinks you’re only given one chance to find that all-consuming love, which she found in her husband.
A child’s Christmas wish, a man’s chance at a real family and a woman’s second chance at love: perfect recipe for heart-warming, smile-inducing story about family and love when you least expect it.
It feels weird reading a Christmas novel in the middle of summer. But I wanted to read this because I won Rainshadow Road through Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. I’m familiar with Ms. Kleypas’ contemporary romance work but not so much her historical fiction. This book was a bit on the skinny side but rest assured that the novel was as thorough and complete.
VERDICT: Stories that involved young kids are like a shot straight to my sternum and this book certainly had me choked up from beginning to end. Holly’s inability to speak after learning of her mother’s death was disheartening. I’m looking forward to reading more about the Nolan brothers, most of all, Alex. What can I say? I love tortured characters. 🙂 Lisa Kleypas’ proficiency in writing the most heart-felt family stories never fail to amaze me. I can’t wait to read more from her.