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***This book was previously published as Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor.***



New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas's new series begins during the most magical time of year





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���

Published: Macmillan Publishers on
ISBN: 9781250036537
List price: $6.99
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Even though I read this one out of order (I read Sam's story which is book # 2 first and then Alex's story which is book #3 and now I've read Mark's story which is book # 1) I am still amazed this author's lyrical prose. She just has such a beautiful way with words...more
Sweet, SHORT novel (just over 200 pages, or four parts on audio when downloaded from OverDrive). It's nice to see a story about a young widow where the first marriage was a good one--a refreshing change from the "evil" first husband or marriage that was "missing something". I'm hoping Kleypas continues the series with Mark's two brothers--we see Sam more than Alex in this one, but both have real potential.

(The Hallmark movie version--"Christmas with Holly"--was cute, but nowhere near as good as the book. They changed too many of the things that I really enjoyed about this story to satisfy me. After re-reading the story, the movie was even more disappointing...)more
Listened for Fun (Audible)
Overall Rating: 3.50
Story Rating: 3.25
Character Rating: 3.75

Part of my 25 Books for the Holidays for 2012

How Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor put me in the Holiday Spirit: Don’t stories that involve kids and rescue dogs always pull at your heartstrings? This one even started with a letter to Santa–how could you not be in the Holiday spirit after that?

What I thought of the characters/story: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was a pretty short listen for an audio book (5 or so hours) and in places I thought the story was a little rushed. I felt the break-up with the current girlfriend to the “I Love You” was to quick. That being said, I loved the characters. I thought each of them were unique, fun, and in their own ways lovable. I am pretty sure that I will be continuing the series to find out what happens with the other two brothers. I loved Maggie and her relationship with Holly and Mark. I felt that the story from her side was very organic and wonderful. I loved that Holly and Reinfield (the ugly rescue dog) were important parts of the story too. Overall, for a short story it was very heartstrings pulling even though it was a little rushed.

What I thought of the audio: Tanya Eby did the audio and she did a pretty decent job. I still have problems with her male voices but she is certainly growing on me.more
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
3 Stars

Fairly bland and superficial romance with a saccharine sweet plot and ending.

The story is rushed and there is no real emotional depth to the characters, which makes it difficult to become attached to any of them (this is most probably due to the short basically novella length format).

Holly is a sweet child and the selective mutism has potential but fizzles out almost immediately as her return to normality is rapid and has no basis in reality.

Maggie gets over her reservations against becoming involved with Mark in no time at all and Mark goes from a commitment phobic, non-believer to an ardent pursuer and imagination convert in the blink of an eye.

The relationship between the brothers is unoriginal and lacks detail. On the surface, Sam seems like a nice guy while Alex is dark, broody and tortured (which means that I will continue on to his book because this is my favorite type of hero).

All in all, a disappointing book as both the story and the characters are underdeveloped. This is definitely not up to Kleypas's standards.more
While I didn't really enjoy reading this book I received via First Reads, it wasn't a bad book. Nothing about it made me want to walk away from it, but neither did anything really beg for me to continue. Reading through to the end just seemed the easiest thing to do.

Small business owner Mark Nolan has just had his life hit a giant bump in the road. Not only has his sister just died unexpectedly in a car accident, but he's also been named as the guardian of his six year-old niece, Holly. Since raising a little girl in a one-bedroom condo isn't possible, he's also moved in with his brother in a large fixer-upper Victorian on a vineyard. To top it all off, Holly has stopped speaking to anyone in the wake of her mother's death. Clearly, Mark has his hands full.

Maggie Conroy is a fellow business owner in their small island community off the coast of Seattle. Unlike Mark, she didn't grow up there, having just moved in a few months ago to open a toy store. She's decided to move somewhere new and start fresh after her husband's death from cancer just a few years ago. Very much Mark's opposite in many ways - as whimsical as he is realistic, from a large, close family as opposed to his smaller, acrimonious one - he's completely captivated by her and her ability to coax Holly out of her silent shell. Maggie herself is drawn to Mark's quiet calm and good looks, though she declares him off-limits since he's involved with someone else and she's unwilling to risk her heart so soon after her husband's death.

All of this is a really great set-up for a book. Clearly you can see how straitlaced Mark, wary of marriage and commitment after living through his parents' contentious relationship, would be attracted to the fanciful toy store owner from a big, happy family. It makes sense that younger sibling Maggie would find herself drawn to the quiet, serious and responsible older brother in Mark. What Kleypas failed to do, however, is to take these excellent character sketches and wonderful plot concept and make it come alive as a story.

Instead, the characters and action feel a bit lost in the storytelling. I think a big part of the reason for this lies with the book's length. Kleypas generally writes full-length novels and it felt like she just couldn't adjust the pacing to the shorter length. As if she felt she needed to cram in a 90k word novel's worth of background and scenery in a short space, parts of the novel read like a tourist brochure.Growing up in the Edgemoor neighborhood of Bellingham, Maggie and her brothers and sisters had explored the trails of Chuckanut Mountain and played along the shores of Bellingham Bay. The quiet neighborhood offered views of both the San Juans and the Canadian mountains. It was also situated next to Fairhaven, where you could browse through unique shops and galleries, or eat at restaurants where the waiters could always tell you about the freshest catch and where it had been bought from.She names every shop, restaurant and geographical feature the characters come across, no matter how inconsequential to the story it may be. When the characters mention going to the house Mark lives in, either in speech or pov prose, she always spells it out as Rainshadow Vineyard, never simply "home," "the house," "Mark's home," etc. It felt so much like brand marketing that the setting never felt immersive to me.

Then, for all the time she spends on the niggling details of the environment, the romance felt rushed. Some of their encounters felt natural - his visiting her store, their riding the ferry at the same time coincidentally - but as we got closer to the end of the book, they felt more and more contrived. I did a major headshake when, after meeting her once during trick-or-treating with Holly, Mark's brother calls Maggie to help him with a feverish, puking Holly when Mark was away. I know people think Bostonians are cold, but this is calling on a mere acquaintance for something most people would be reluctant to ask an old friend to do. After this, Mark and Maggie go from subtle flirtation and unacknowledged attraction to engagement in less than two months. They go from first sexual encounter, still with Maggie's insistence that it be casual and not a committed relationship, to engaged in just a few days. Their HEA totally was a "Holy shit! I'm at the end of my word count!" sort of thing.

Since my review is almost as long as the book at this point, I'll stuff a sock in it. To sum up, good idea with weak execution. Not bad, but far from her best.more
I LOVED it! This was such a warm holiday story and the romance was lovely. The dynamic between Maggie and Mark was wonderful. The dialogue in this book is just excellent.

I should note that I am not generally a fan of children in the books I read. I tend to steer clear of them as a rule. Holly, Mark's 6-year-old niece plays a large role in this book... and I gave it five stars. THAT is how much I enjoyed it. I actually liked Holly and I felt like she was really important to the story and how the family came together.

While this is listed by many as magical realism, I thought the magic was very light. I read Rainshadow Road before this one, so I was surprised that there wasn't more magic in it.

If I had any complaint about the book, it would simply be that I wanted more of it. This is a short novel, at a little over two hundred pages, and I could've happily read a hundred more pages.more
I finally was able to get a hold of this book, which is a part of the most recent series by one of my all time favorite authors. When I first picked this up I had my doubts over whether or not I would like it, considering how short it is and all....however I was delightfully surprised by how enjoyable this story actually was. I really enjoyed how this author put the story together. I also loved the romance that grows between Mark and Maggie. Both characters were very endearing and you just want them to get together throughout it all. I especially fell in love with the little girl, Holly. I found her to be a bundle of joy, and very loveable. Even though it was a short story, it was deeply satisfying. Overall a beautifully woven love story that teaches about the real spirit of Christmas and most of all....True Love!!! I am definitely going to have to read the next one in the series as soon as I can !!! A TREASURE WORTH READING!!!more
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa KleypasThis family series is about Mark Nolan. He is taking care of his niece, along with his two brothers; Sam and Alex. Sam runs the vineyard and Alex likes to build condo's on the island. Mark has a coffee business.She is so energetic and needs a family loving. Sam and his huge house that he's renovating along with his vineyard has agreed to let Mark and their niece Holly come live with them. She's not said a word since they told her of her mother's death, days ago.Maggie is a widower and she moved her toy shop to the island. She's taking a liking to Holly showing her books all about fairies. Love how she uses seashells to talk magic to Holly. It worked cuz she started talking and he was so relieved. It had been 6 months.Mark is dating Shelby but he really is interested in Maggie as they share a meal while waiting for the ferry to take them back to the island.They talk so much about anything and nothing that they are at ease with one another.Maggie has choices to make as time goes on and Mark also as to what direction his life will take.more
CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR was a quick and easy read, but also a heartwarming story. Mark Nolan, the eldest of four, becomes the guardian of his niece when his sister dies in a car accident. He's very protective of Holly, and takes his new role as father seriously. As much as Holly loves Mark, he knows that she longs to have a mother again.Holly takes a liking to a young widow named Maggie who owns a toy store. Maggie is fairly new to Friday Harbor, moving to San Juan Island for a fresh start. Though her husband died two years ago, she's still burdened with grief over the loss. She guards her heart carefully, not wanting fall in love with someone else, only to lose him too.Through Holly, Maggie and Mark get closer, but their relationship develops slow and steady. Aside from Maggie's emotional baggage, Mark has an issue to deal with too - a serious girlfriend. Nothing is ever easy!This was a sweet romance with a touching story, cozy setting and likable characters. There were no big surprises in the plot, but for an uplifting holiday read, it was spot on. Renfield, the not-so-attractive but super lovable bulldog, was a hoot. You should read the book just to meet Renfield! Definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.more
This was the first book I'd ever read by Lisa Kleypas. I enjoyed it quite a bit, particularly the sweetly romantic quality to the story.more
Uneven pacing (the middle of the book plodded along, while the end felt surprisingly abrupt), and some general suspension of disbelief issues (revolving around Holly's immediate acceptance of Maggie). Still enjoyable, and I'll definitely try out the next in the seriesmore
Mark Nolan's life changes utterly when he is given custody of his niece Holly after his sister's accidental death. He moves back to the family vineyard with his brother and they work on making a life for Holly. She wishes for a Christmas Present of a mother and he decides that this is now imporant.His life changes when he meets widow Maggie, who has moved to the Island after her husband died of cancer. The two of them have to deal with this and try to work out if they can love each other enough.It's a short enough read, entertaining and heartwarming.more
Not a bad start to what I assume will be a sereis.more
3.5 stars.Tanya Eby was great with the narration - 4.5 stars for that.Here's the review I wrote for the February ARRA newsletter:In preparation for the upcoming release of Rainshadow Road, I listened to the novella which introduced the series, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor this week. This is a short audiobook – only just over 4 hours Mark Nolan becomes the guardian of 6 year old Holly after the death of his sister (her mother) Victoria in a car accident. He and his other 2 brothers (Alex and Sam) live on San Juan island off the coast of Washington state (and isn’t it nice the whole family have normal names?) Because Mark doesn’t think he can raise Holly alone, he convinces Sam to let them move into Sam’s large house with him. Skip ahead to 6 months down the track and Mark and Holly go into to the new toy shop on the island where they meet the owner, Maggie Conroy. Maggie is a widow in her late 20’s and has moved to the island to make a new start. There is instant attraction between the 2 adults and Maggie also forms an instant connection with Holly. But, because Mark is seeing Shelby (who lives in nearby Seattle), it seems they are destined to be “just good friends”.Holly wants a mother for Christmas and Mark starts thinking about whether he should marry Shelby, even as his and Holly’s friendship with Maggie grows. For her part, Maggie, as much as she is attracted to Mark, is wary of getting too close to anyone – after losing her husband to cancer, she is afraid to love anyone again.Narrator Tanya Eby has a very pleasing-to-the-ear voice and the male voices are easily differentiated from the female. The 3 brothers sound very similar, but there are enough dialogue tags in the story that it isn’t hard to work out who is talking. Holly’s voice is appropriately childlike without being too “cutesy” and Shelby sounds like the socialite she is – not a bad person, but not really prepared for instant motherhood either.I was really enjoying this book right up until the final 2 chapters when things suddenly became very rushed. It did feel a bit like, “whoa, time’s a-marchin’, let’s wrap it up” and that was disappointing. There was a relatively gentle pace set by the rest of the story but the final part was Speedy Gonzales. The story could easily have been expanded into a shorter novel and would have, in my view, benefited from at least adding another couple of chapters. As it was, Maggie’s very real fears about being in a relationship again and the risk that would entail, were barely touched upon and they disappeared too quickly given the build-up.As disappointed as I was in the ending of this one, I am nevertheless really excited about the next story – which is a full length novel with Sam as the hero. I really enjoyed Christmas Eve in Friday Harbor but I wished it was just a little longer!more
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is a sweet, gentle love story that is a little different than Lisa Kleypas' other works but absolutely no less appealing. I love the small-town atmosphere of Friday Harbor. It seems like a warm, friendly, peaceful place, and Ms. Kleypas' descriptions of the setting make me want to go there for a visit. Friday Harbor, in some ways, reminds me of Virgin River from Robyn Carr's series of the same name. I think fans of Ms. Carr would like Friday Harbor and vice versa. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor definitely has an emphasis on home and hearth as well as the importance of family and what exactly the word family means. It was such a lovely story, it even made me a little teary once or twice. Anyone who is expecting Ms. Kleypas' typical bone-melting love scenes should definitely think again. This book has only one, and it is extremely mild when compared to most of her other works. This didn't really matter to me though, because she created lots of tender romantic moments that made me believe in the slow-building love between Mark and Maggie. The two of them, Holly, and Mark's brothers also gradually meld into a family unit, which is something I think all the Nolan brothers desperately needed after their rocky upbringing and the loss of their only sister.Mark was a really stand-up guy, who didn't hesitate to step in and raise his sister's child after her tragic death. Even though he initially knew nothing about parenting, he ended up growing into an amazing father who was fully committed to the responsibility of taking care of Holly. He lives with his brother Sam who helps out, but ultimately, Mark sees Holly as his charge. However, she becomes far more than just an obligation to him. He truly loves the little girl every bit as much as if she were his biological child, and is quite protective of her. Mark is a very practical man who's not given to flights of fancy, so when he meets the imaginative and free-spirited Maggie, he isn't quite sure what to make of her at first. It doesn't take long though before he's a goner for her, and once he realizes that Maggie is the woman for him, he won't let her hide away in her grief anymore. Mark was so patient with Maggie, giving her the space she needed and sweetly courting her until she came to terms with the idea of falling in love again.Maggie suffered through the tragic loss of her husband to cancer, but through all her heartbreak, she has never lost her belief that a little “magic” can brighten anyone's day. In spite of that, she still doesn't quite believe that she can find true love twice in one lifetime. I adore Maggie's toy shop and the friendly manner in which she treats her customers. She is an excellent listener and has a natural affinity for intuitively knowing what each person she meets needs. I love the way that Maggie connected with Holly instantly and in an almost magical way. I think her background with a warm, loving family, which is something Mark never had, made her the perfect person to create a new family with Mark and Holly. However, the pain she went through while watching her husband slowly waste away makes her truly afraid to love again, as she views loving Mark and Holly as twice the risk. I really enjoyed the way that these two gradually snuck into Maggie's life when she least expected it and helped her learn to really live, and love, again.For such a short novel, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor had some memorable secondary characters. Holly is an adorable little girl who obviously just wants to be loved and have a family. Renfield is a poor ugly dog, who was nonetheless incredibly cute. He too just wants some love and a family to call his own. He added a new dimension to Mark and Maggie's characters, showing even further what big hearts they have. We also get an introduction to Mark's two brothers, Sam and Alex. Sam seems to be the cheery one who is always joking around and full of mischief, while Alex is more serious and brooding as he weathers through a marriage that's falling apart. These two become the heroes of the next two books in the series, Rainshadow Road and Dream Lake respectively. When the story opens, Mark has a girlfriend, Shelby, which is something I had mixed feelings about. Even though Mark describes their relationship as non-exclusive, Shelby seems nice at first glance and it's pretty obvious that she thinks things are headed toward commitment. I have to say that Lisa Kleypas surprised me, and ultimately, did a good with this. Even though Mark considers asking Shelby to marry him at one point, it's clear that he's only doing it for Holly's sake and isn't even certain if he's in love with her. Mark and Shelby definitely don't connect on the deep, passionate level that two people who are thinking of making a lifetime commitment should. Eventually, Ms. Kleypas also draws a strong distinction between Maggie and Shelby that makes Mark's choice crystal clear and made me fully accepting of this part of the story.Normally, I only read Christmas stories in December, but since I won a copy of Rainshadow Road, the next book in the series, from GoodReads FirstReads, I needed to catch up quickly. It turned out to be just fine, because the story takes place over the course of nearly a year, and the holiday theme doesn't really even come into play until the last couple of chapters. This story was a nice mix of touching moments and just a little humor. When Maggie finally coaxed Holly to speak again, it brought a few tears to my eyes, while the Nolan brother's disastrous attempt at cooking Thanksgiving dinner was hilarious. Overall, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was a beautiful story that I would highly recommend at Christmastime or any time of the year. The Friday Harbor series is off to a great start for me, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading Sam's book soon.more
This was the first book I have read of this Author, the writing is amazing-characters wonderful, great plot, descriptions of locations amazing as well. My problem is that it is not long enough and I feel ripped off! There is so much more that could have been done, but wasn't. I am on to the next book in the series!more
Fast, cute read. A new mom for niece a uncle is raising.more
This was a short, sweet contemporary romance set on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington. Mark, a long-time resident of the island, has received guardianship of his six year old niece after his sister died in a car accident. He moves in with his brother Sam who owns a vineyard on the island and is restoring an old home there. Together, the two uncles try to create a warm and supportive home for Holly. Maggie, on the other hand, is fairly new to the island, having moved there and opened up a toy shop after her husband died of cancer two years previously. So, basically, Mark and Maggie meet at her toy shop and a small spark is ignited which over time becomes friendship and then romance. There were some things that I like, such as the setting on San Juan Island, the ferry, and the ugly dog, but all in all, this book reminded me why I don't really care for romance books all that much. There just wasn't enough going to hold my interestmore
Cute read. Could have used a little more conflict, since the storyline focuses mostly on things that have already happened.more
A sunset, rife with wild and vivid tones of magenta, purple and orange, setting on the horizon while the waves gently lap at the pebbly shore; a salty breeze caresses your cheek, as you savor a cup of rich, steamy coffee and anticipate the blustering chill of Christmas. After reading this book, such scenery floats at random moments into my mind, and I begin to fantasize living in Friday Harbor. As a matter of fact, this book makes me want to pack up everything I own, and drive out to Anacortes, get on that ferry and never look back. Eat lunch at Market Chef, take a stroll along the beach on Orcas island, and make a life as simple as the one Lisa Kleypas so vividly describes in this beautiful book. The truth is, this book accomplishes no literary feat, it does not have a very unique plot, and it's a fairly simple read. But in my eyes, its simplicity is its charm - that and the fact that the author is able to take the beautiful location, and pull it into the story, making it part of the plot. Its characters, although in complex situations at times, are simple people, just like the book they are featured in. And the vulnerability, strength, and humanity that these characters display is extremely endearing, and its qualities like these that make you want to read more about them. I am not a very big fan of romantic novels, especially those that may seem devoid of reality, but I liked this one especially because the characters seemed like real people, with real problems. I really enjoyed reading this book, it was like eating your favorite comfort food - you know it's not that great for you, but it warms your soul anyway! Not to mention, the absolutely beautiful and colorful cover makes me smile every time I pass my bookshelf now! :)more
Mark Nolan is grief-stricken learns that his sister was killed in an automobile accident, but he is astonished when he learns that he has been named guardian of his young niece, Holly. Mark is single and has no idea how to raise a child. To make matters worse, Holly has been unable or unwilling to speak since the death of her mother. Mark talks his brother, Sam, into allowing him and Holly to move into the ramshackle farmhouse the brothers have been renovating. Mark and Sam both are at wits end about how to help Holly until a young widow, Maggie, comes into their lives and effects a Christmas miracle.Kleypas is one of my favorite contemporary romance novelists (she also is an award-winning historical romance writer), This is the first in a series about the Nolan brothers. It's almost a novella with the holiday theme and touch of magic to it. It's highly entertaining and a quick read. I'm looking forward to the rest of the books in the series.more
I enjoyed this story set in one of the islands off the coast of Washington. I felt the draw of a community that knows one another. The story revolves around two unmarried brothers rearing their niece. The six-year-old girl, Holly, has not spoken since the death of her mother. But magic enters in the form of Maggie, a young widow and owner of a toyshop. Kleypas presents a story of imagery with a vivid description of the islands and the two brothers. Both brothers cater to man's need of drink. One brother, Sam, owns a vineyard; while the other brother, Mark, owns a coffee-grinding house. The story deals with family, relationships, and unconditional love. The story of the bulldog, Renfield, shows that love is blind and that everyone deserves love. This is a compact, but emotional Christmas novella.more
This story does not reflect Ms. Kleypas' writing talent. I was so surprised by the lack of creativity in the storyline, that I wondered if maybe it was an early work of the author's, in print for the first time. If that is so, a note from L.K. should be included. First time L.K. readers should try any of her other contemporary stories before judging her storytelling abilities.more
Very disappointing for a Lisa Kleypas book. More of a fit for the contemporary fiction genre than romance. The book was also very short (because I purchased this as an ebook, I wasn't aware of the length). If your expectations are set based on those two items, you may enjoy this book more than I.First, this really wasn't a romance: The hero is dating someone else for the first half of the book. Just when the hero and heroine really start to have a relationship, the book ends. There wasn't time for them to really know each other or function as a couple.Secondly, this book was way too short and felt like it cut off in the middle. This book also was establishing secondary characters for the rest of the series so not as much time was devoted to the hero and heroine as one would expect. This really would have functioned better as part of an anthology than a stand alone book. All I can say is thank goodness I didn't pay the full hardcover price of almost $17.While the secondary characters did intrigue me, I'm not going to be reading more of this series unless the above items are addressed.more
Losing her mother in a car accident left Holly to be raised by her Uncle Mark. Having no idea what to do with a 6 year old, Mark Nolan did the best he could with a young girl. Looking around a toy store they found the widow Maggie Conroy had a special way about her. With stories and possibilities, Maggie was able to help Holly find her voice again. Stunned that the belief in a fairy tale, a belief in magic was all the child needed, Mark was willing to give Maggie a closer look. Spoiling Holly was never anyone’s intention, but would she get what she really wanted most, a new mom for Christmas.Book 1 ….. A sweet and gentle story about family and learning to explore the possibilities of the holiday seasons. What an inspiration, full of fun (not including that Holly’s mother, Victoria died) and laughter. Recently found out this is a first book of a series, yeah, can only assume that the other characters of the family (Alex and Sam especially) will have a story. As I was reading it didn’t feel like a typical first book, all cluttered with information, but looking back it was a good introduction to the brothers and I will look for the rest of the series.more
Set in a small community on San Juan Island in Washington, it’s a story about a little girl, Holly, who lost her mother in a car accident. Mark Nolan’s life changes forever when he discovers his late sister deemed him guardian of her daughter, Holly. Mark is a confirmed bachelor living in a one-bedroom condo and thinks some mistake has been made. Unwilling to let Holly go into foster care, Mark moves into the battered old Victorian his younger brother Sam owns. Mark and Sam slowly rehab the house in order to make it a nice place for Holly, who after the accident has been unable/unwilling to speak. Mark wants to surround Holly with family and love.Six months after the accident, they enter a new toy store in town and meet Maggie Collins. Maggie moved to Friday Harbor and opened up the store as a way to get over her husband’s death from cancer two years ago. Maggie finds a way to reach Holly and like magic, Holly is speaking once again. Mark is drawn to Maggie despite the fact that he is currently dating Shelby. After Holly writes a letter to Santa asking for a new mother, Mark starts thinking that Shelby might make a good mother for Holly. But it’s Maggie that Mark begins to recognize that would make them all a family – even though Maggie doesn’t want to take a chance on love again.I’m nuts about Christmas and tend to love books set around the season. This book was not an exception. Mark and his brother were hilarious as the single guys forced to “grow up” and provide a home for their niece. The scene when Mark returns early from visiting Shelby felt very real. Of course a young guy would call in help. The scene at Thanksgiving was funny. I could just picture the incident and the looks on Holly and Maggie’s faces. I even enjoyed the glimpse we saw of their other brother, Alex. (I hope we see future novels with Sam and Alex.) I enjoyed Maggie and could understand why she was hesitant to give her hand another try at love. She was so young to become a widow. And I liked that Kleypas didn’t make Shelby into a monster – she just wasn’t ready to share Mark with a child.My biggest complaint about this books was it’s length. At 211 pages the book was a quick read. I wanted more.I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick diversion from shopping, wrapping, decorating, etc. It’s like one of those holiday movies on the Hallmark or Family channel. It’s light but it leaves you with a warm feeling and a smile on your face. 4.5/5 stars.more
Loved this book. Such a sweet romance. It was a light quick read but with such a nice story. Couldn't help but love the characters. Loved Renfield! book was worth reading just for him!!more
I love Kleypas's books and this was another good one, although in the class of short, sweet Christmas books. Mark is a confirmed bachelor who has just inherited his 6-yr old neice. Maggie has just opened a toy store and is trying to overcome the loss of her husband to cancer. The rest of the story is obvious, but well done. Mark and Maggie are likeable characters. Holly, Mark's neice is adorable without being syrupy. And the small island off the Washington coast where they all live creates an atmosphere of cozy escape.more
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Reviews

Even though I read this one out of order (I read Sam's story which is book # 2 first and then Alex's story which is book #3 and now I've read Mark's story which is book # 1) I am still amazed this author's lyrical prose. She just has such a beautiful way with words...more
Sweet, SHORT novel (just over 200 pages, or four parts on audio when downloaded from OverDrive). It's nice to see a story about a young widow where the first marriage was a good one--a refreshing change from the "evil" first husband or marriage that was "missing something". I'm hoping Kleypas continues the series with Mark's two brothers--we see Sam more than Alex in this one, but both have real potential.

(The Hallmark movie version--"Christmas with Holly"--was cute, but nowhere near as good as the book. They changed too many of the things that I really enjoyed about this story to satisfy me. After re-reading the story, the movie was even more disappointing...)more
Listened for Fun (Audible)
Overall Rating: 3.50
Story Rating: 3.25
Character Rating: 3.75

Part of my 25 Books for the Holidays for 2012

How Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor put me in the Holiday Spirit: Don’t stories that involve kids and rescue dogs always pull at your heartstrings? This one even started with a letter to Santa–how could you not be in the Holiday spirit after that?

What I thought of the characters/story: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was a pretty short listen for an audio book (5 or so hours) and in places I thought the story was a little rushed. I felt the break-up with the current girlfriend to the “I Love You” was to quick. That being said, I loved the characters. I thought each of them were unique, fun, and in their own ways lovable. I am pretty sure that I will be continuing the series to find out what happens with the other two brothers. I loved Maggie and her relationship with Holly and Mark. I felt that the story from her side was very organic and wonderful. I loved that Holly and Reinfield (the ugly rescue dog) were important parts of the story too. Overall, for a short story it was very heartstrings pulling even though it was a little rushed.

What I thought of the audio: Tanya Eby did the audio and she did a pretty decent job. I still have problems with her male voices but she is certainly growing on me.more
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor
3 Stars

Fairly bland and superficial romance with a saccharine sweet plot and ending.

The story is rushed and there is no real emotional depth to the characters, which makes it difficult to become attached to any of them (this is most probably due to the short basically novella length format).

Holly is a sweet child and the selective mutism has potential but fizzles out almost immediately as her return to normality is rapid and has no basis in reality.

Maggie gets over her reservations against becoming involved with Mark in no time at all and Mark goes from a commitment phobic, non-believer to an ardent pursuer and imagination convert in the blink of an eye.

The relationship between the brothers is unoriginal and lacks detail. On the surface, Sam seems like a nice guy while Alex is dark, broody and tortured (which means that I will continue on to his book because this is my favorite type of hero).

All in all, a disappointing book as both the story and the characters are underdeveloped. This is definitely not up to Kleypas's standards.more
While I didn't really enjoy reading this book I received via First Reads, it wasn't a bad book. Nothing about it made me want to walk away from it, but neither did anything really beg for me to continue. Reading through to the end just seemed the easiest thing to do.

Small business owner Mark Nolan has just had his life hit a giant bump in the road. Not only has his sister just died unexpectedly in a car accident, but he's also been named as the guardian of his six year-old niece, Holly. Since raising a little girl in a one-bedroom condo isn't possible, he's also moved in with his brother in a large fixer-upper Victorian on a vineyard. To top it all off, Holly has stopped speaking to anyone in the wake of her mother's death. Clearly, Mark has his hands full.

Maggie Conroy is a fellow business owner in their small island community off the coast of Seattle. Unlike Mark, she didn't grow up there, having just moved in a few months ago to open a toy store. She's decided to move somewhere new and start fresh after her husband's death from cancer just a few years ago. Very much Mark's opposite in many ways - as whimsical as he is realistic, from a large, close family as opposed to his smaller, acrimonious one - he's completely captivated by her and her ability to coax Holly out of her silent shell. Maggie herself is drawn to Mark's quiet calm and good looks, though she declares him off-limits since he's involved with someone else and she's unwilling to risk her heart so soon after her husband's death.

All of this is a really great set-up for a book. Clearly you can see how straitlaced Mark, wary of marriage and commitment after living through his parents' contentious relationship, would be attracted to the fanciful toy store owner from a big, happy family. It makes sense that younger sibling Maggie would find herself drawn to the quiet, serious and responsible older brother in Mark. What Kleypas failed to do, however, is to take these excellent character sketches and wonderful plot concept and make it come alive as a story.

Instead, the characters and action feel a bit lost in the storytelling. I think a big part of the reason for this lies with the book's length. Kleypas generally writes full-length novels and it felt like she just couldn't adjust the pacing to the shorter length. As if she felt she needed to cram in a 90k word novel's worth of background and scenery in a short space, parts of the novel read like a tourist brochure.Growing up in the Edgemoor neighborhood of Bellingham, Maggie and her brothers and sisters had explored the trails of Chuckanut Mountain and played along the shores of Bellingham Bay. The quiet neighborhood offered views of both the San Juans and the Canadian mountains. It was also situated next to Fairhaven, where you could browse through unique shops and galleries, or eat at restaurants where the waiters could always tell you about the freshest catch and where it had been bought from.She names every shop, restaurant and geographical feature the characters come across, no matter how inconsequential to the story it may be. When the characters mention going to the house Mark lives in, either in speech or pov prose, she always spells it out as Rainshadow Vineyard, never simply "home," "the house," "Mark's home," etc. It felt so much like brand marketing that the setting never felt immersive to me.

Then, for all the time she spends on the niggling details of the environment, the romance felt rushed. Some of their encounters felt natural - his visiting her store, their riding the ferry at the same time coincidentally - but as we got closer to the end of the book, they felt more and more contrived. I did a major headshake when, after meeting her once during trick-or-treating with Holly, Mark's brother calls Maggie to help him with a feverish, puking Holly when Mark was away. I know people think Bostonians are cold, but this is calling on a mere acquaintance for something most people would be reluctant to ask an old friend to do. After this, Mark and Maggie go from subtle flirtation and unacknowledged attraction to engagement in less than two months. They go from first sexual encounter, still with Maggie's insistence that it be casual and not a committed relationship, to engaged in just a few days. Their HEA totally was a "Holy shit! I'm at the end of my word count!" sort of thing.

Since my review is almost as long as the book at this point, I'll stuff a sock in it. To sum up, good idea with weak execution. Not bad, but far from her best.more
I LOVED it! This was such a warm holiday story and the romance was lovely. The dynamic between Maggie and Mark was wonderful. The dialogue in this book is just excellent.

I should note that I am not generally a fan of children in the books I read. I tend to steer clear of them as a rule. Holly, Mark's 6-year-old niece plays a large role in this book... and I gave it five stars. THAT is how much I enjoyed it. I actually liked Holly and I felt like she was really important to the story and how the family came together.

While this is listed by many as magical realism, I thought the magic was very light. I read Rainshadow Road before this one, so I was surprised that there wasn't more magic in it.

If I had any complaint about the book, it would simply be that I wanted more of it. This is a short novel, at a little over two hundred pages, and I could've happily read a hundred more pages.more
I finally was able to get a hold of this book, which is a part of the most recent series by one of my all time favorite authors. When I first picked this up I had my doubts over whether or not I would like it, considering how short it is and all....however I was delightfully surprised by how enjoyable this story actually was. I really enjoyed how this author put the story together. I also loved the romance that grows between Mark and Maggie. Both characters were very endearing and you just want them to get together throughout it all. I especially fell in love with the little girl, Holly. I found her to be a bundle of joy, and very loveable. Even though it was a short story, it was deeply satisfying. Overall a beautifully woven love story that teaches about the real spirit of Christmas and most of all....True Love!!! I am definitely going to have to read the next one in the series as soon as I can !!! A TREASURE WORTH READING!!!more
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa KleypasThis family series is about Mark Nolan. He is taking care of his niece, along with his two brothers; Sam and Alex. Sam runs the vineyard and Alex likes to build condo's on the island. Mark has a coffee business.She is so energetic and needs a family loving. Sam and his huge house that he's renovating along with his vineyard has agreed to let Mark and their niece Holly come live with them. She's not said a word since they told her of her mother's death, days ago.Maggie is a widower and she moved her toy shop to the island. She's taking a liking to Holly showing her books all about fairies. Love how she uses seashells to talk magic to Holly. It worked cuz she started talking and he was so relieved. It had been 6 months.Mark is dating Shelby but he really is interested in Maggie as they share a meal while waiting for the ferry to take them back to the island.They talk so much about anything and nothing that they are at ease with one another.Maggie has choices to make as time goes on and Mark also as to what direction his life will take.more
CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR was a quick and easy read, but also a heartwarming story. Mark Nolan, the eldest of four, becomes the guardian of his niece when his sister dies in a car accident. He's very protective of Holly, and takes his new role as father seriously. As much as Holly loves Mark, he knows that she longs to have a mother again.Holly takes a liking to a young widow named Maggie who owns a toy store. Maggie is fairly new to Friday Harbor, moving to San Juan Island for a fresh start. Though her husband died two years ago, she's still burdened with grief over the loss. She guards her heart carefully, not wanting fall in love with someone else, only to lose him too.Through Holly, Maggie and Mark get closer, but their relationship develops slow and steady. Aside from Maggie's emotional baggage, Mark has an issue to deal with too - a serious girlfriend. Nothing is ever easy!This was a sweet romance with a touching story, cozy setting and likable characters. There were no big surprises in the plot, but for an uplifting holiday read, it was spot on. Renfield, the not-so-attractive but super lovable bulldog, was a hoot. You should read the book just to meet Renfield! Definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.more
This was the first book I'd ever read by Lisa Kleypas. I enjoyed it quite a bit, particularly the sweetly romantic quality to the story.more
Uneven pacing (the middle of the book plodded along, while the end felt surprisingly abrupt), and some general suspension of disbelief issues (revolving around Holly's immediate acceptance of Maggie). Still enjoyable, and I'll definitely try out the next in the seriesmore
Mark Nolan's life changes utterly when he is given custody of his niece Holly after his sister's accidental death. He moves back to the family vineyard with his brother and they work on making a life for Holly. She wishes for a Christmas Present of a mother and he decides that this is now imporant.His life changes when he meets widow Maggie, who has moved to the Island after her husband died of cancer. The two of them have to deal with this and try to work out if they can love each other enough.It's a short enough read, entertaining and heartwarming.more
Not a bad start to what I assume will be a sereis.more
3.5 stars.Tanya Eby was great with the narration - 4.5 stars for that.Here's the review I wrote for the February ARRA newsletter:In preparation for the upcoming release of Rainshadow Road, I listened to the novella which introduced the series, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor this week. This is a short audiobook – only just over 4 hours Mark Nolan becomes the guardian of 6 year old Holly after the death of his sister (her mother) Victoria in a car accident. He and his other 2 brothers (Alex and Sam) live on San Juan island off the coast of Washington state (and isn’t it nice the whole family have normal names?) Because Mark doesn’t think he can raise Holly alone, he convinces Sam to let them move into Sam’s large house with him. Skip ahead to 6 months down the track and Mark and Holly go into to the new toy shop on the island where they meet the owner, Maggie Conroy. Maggie is a widow in her late 20’s and has moved to the island to make a new start. There is instant attraction between the 2 adults and Maggie also forms an instant connection with Holly. But, because Mark is seeing Shelby (who lives in nearby Seattle), it seems they are destined to be “just good friends”.Holly wants a mother for Christmas and Mark starts thinking about whether he should marry Shelby, even as his and Holly’s friendship with Maggie grows. For her part, Maggie, as much as she is attracted to Mark, is wary of getting too close to anyone – after losing her husband to cancer, she is afraid to love anyone again.Narrator Tanya Eby has a very pleasing-to-the-ear voice and the male voices are easily differentiated from the female. The 3 brothers sound very similar, but there are enough dialogue tags in the story that it isn’t hard to work out who is talking. Holly’s voice is appropriately childlike without being too “cutesy” and Shelby sounds like the socialite she is – not a bad person, but not really prepared for instant motherhood either.I was really enjoying this book right up until the final 2 chapters when things suddenly became very rushed. It did feel a bit like, “whoa, time’s a-marchin’, let’s wrap it up” and that was disappointing. There was a relatively gentle pace set by the rest of the story but the final part was Speedy Gonzales. The story could easily have been expanded into a shorter novel and would have, in my view, benefited from at least adding another couple of chapters. As it was, Maggie’s very real fears about being in a relationship again and the risk that would entail, were barely touched upon and they disappeared too quickly given the build-up.As disappointed as I was in the ending of this one, I am nevertheless really excited about the next story – which is a full length novel with Sam as the hero. I really enjoyed Christmas Eve in Friday Harbor but I wished it was just a little longer!more
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is a sweet, gentle love story that is a little different than Lisa Kleypas' other works but absolutely no less appealing. I love the small-town atmosphere of Friday Harbor. It seems like a warm, friendly, peaceful place, and Ms. Kleypas' descriptions of the setting make me want to go there for a visit. Friday Harbor, in some ways, reminds me of Virgin River from Robyn Carr's series of the same name. I think fans of Ms. Carr would like Friday Harbor and vice versa. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor definitely has an emphasis on home and hearth as well as the importance of family and what exactly the word family means. It was such a lovely story, it even made me a little teary once or twice. Anyone who is expecting Ms. Kleypas' typical bone-melting love scenes should definitely think again. This book has only one, and it is extremely mild when compared to most of her other works. This didn't really matter to me though, because she created lots of tender romantic moments that made me believe in the slow-building love between Mark and Maggie. The two of them, Holly, and Mark's brothers also gradually meld into a family unit, which is something I think all the Nolan brothers desperately needed after their rocky upbringing and the loss of their only sister.Mark was a really stand-up guy, who didn't hesitate to step in and raise his sister's child after her tragic death. Even though he initially knew nothing about parenting, he ended up growing into an amazing father who was fully committed to the responsibility of taking care of Holly. He lives with his brother Sam who helps out, but ultimately, Mark sees Holly as his charge. However, she becomes far more than just an obligation to him. He truly loves the little girl every bit as much as if she were his biological child, and is quite protective of her. Mark is a very practical man who's not given to flights of fancy, so when he meets the imaginative and free-spirited Maggie, he isn't quite sure what to make of her at first. It doesn't take long though before he's a goner for her, and once he realizes that Maggie is the woman for him, he won't let her hide away in her grief anymore. Mark was so patient with Maggie, giving her the space she needed and sweetly courting her until she came to terms with the idea of falling in love again.Maggie suffered through the tragic loss of her husband to cancer, but through all her heartbreak, she has never lost her belief that a little “magic” can brighten anyone's day. In spite of that, she still doesn't quite believe that she can find true love twice in one lifetime. I adore Maggie's toy shop and the friendly manner in which she treats her customers. She is an excellent listener and has a natural affinity for intuitively knowing what each person she meets needs. I love the way that Maggie connected with Holly instantly and in an almost magical way. I think her background with a warm, loving family, which is something Mark never had, made her the perfect person to create a new family with Mark and Holly. However, the pain she went through while watching her husband slowly waste away makes her truly afraid to love again, as she views loving Mark and Holly as twice the risk. I really enjoyed the way that these two gradually snuck into Maggie's life when she least expected it and helped her learn to really live, and love, again.For such a short novel, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor had some memorable secondary characters. Holly is an adorable little girl who obviously just wants to be loved and have a family. Renfield is a poor ugly dog, who was nonetheless incredibly cute. He too just wants some love and a family to call his own. He added a new dimension to Mark and Maggie's characters, showing even further what big hearts they have. We also get an introduction to Mark's two brothers, Sam and Alex. Sam seems to be the cheery one who is always joking around and full of mischief, while Alex is more serious and brooding as he weathers through a marriage that's falling apart. These two become the heroes of the next two books in the series, Rainshadow Road and Dream Lake respectively. When the story opens, Mark has a girlfriend, Shelby, which is something I had mixed feelings about. Even though Mark describes their relationship as non-exclusive, Shelby seems nice at first glance and it's pretty obvious that she thinks things are headed toward commitment. I have to say that Lisa Kleypas surprised me, and ultimately, did a good with this. Even though Mark considers asking Shelby to marry him at one point, it's clear that he's only doing it for Holly's sake and isn't even certain if he's in love with her. Mark and Shelby definitely don't connect on the deep, passionate level that two people who are thinking of making a lifetime commitment should. Eventually, Ms. Kleypas also draws a strong distinction between Maggie and Shelby that makes Mark's choice crystal clear and made me fully accepting of this part of the story.Normally, I only read Christmas stories in December, but since I won a copy of Rainshadow Road, the next book in the series, from GoodReads FirstReads, I needed to catch up quickly. It turned out to be just fine, because the story takes place over the course of nearly a year, and the holiday theme doesn't really even come into play until the last couple of chapters. This story was a nice mix of touching moments and just a little humor. When Maggie finally coaxed Holly to speak again, it brought a few tears to my eyes, while the Nolan brother's disastrous attempt at cooking Thanksgiving dinner was hilarious. Overall, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor was a beautiful story that I would highly recommend at Christmastime or any time of the year. The Friday Harbor series is off to a great start for me, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading Sam's book soon.more
This was the first book I have read of this Author, the writing is amazing-characters wonderful, great plot, descriptions of locations amazing as well. My problem is that it is not long enough and I feel ripped off! There is so much more that could have been done, but wasn't. I am on to the next book in the series!more
Fast, cute read. A new mom for niece a uncle is raising.more
This was a short, sweet contemporary romance set on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington. Mark, a long-time resident of the island, has received guardianship of his six year old niece after his sister died in a car accident. He moves in with his brother Sam who owns a vineyard on the island and is restoring an old home there. Together, the two uncles try to create a warm and supportive home for Holly. Maggie, on the other hand, is fairly new to the island, having moved there and opened up a toy shop after her husband died of cancer two years previously. So, basically, Mark and Maggie meet at her toy shop and a small spark is ignited which over time becomes friendship and then romance. There were some things that I like, such as the setting on San Juan Island, the ferry, and the ugly dog, but all in all, this book reminded me why I don't really care for romance books all that much. There just wasn't enough going to hold my interestmore
Cute read. Could have used a little more conflict, since the storyline focuses mostly on things that have already happened.more
A sunset, rife with wild and vivid tones of magenta, purple and orange, setting on the horizon while the waves gently lap at the pebbly shore; a salty breeze caresses your cheek, as you savor a cup of rich, steamy coffee and anticipate the blustering chill of Christmas. After reading this book, such scenery floats at random moments into my mind, and I begin to fantasize living in Friday Harbor. As a matter of fact, this book makes me want to pack up everything I own, and drive out to Anacortes, get on that ferry and never look back. Eat lunch at Market Chef, take a stroll along the beach on Orcas island, and make a life as simple as the one Lisa Kleypas so vividly describes in this beautiful book. The truth is, this book accomplishes no literary feat, it does not have a very unique plot, and it's a fairly simple read. But in my eyes, its simplicity is its charm - that and the fact that the author is able to take the beautiful location, and pull it into the story, making it part of the plot. Its characters, although in complex situations at times, are simple people, just like the book they are featured in. And the vulnerability, strength, and humanity that these characters display is extremely endearing, and its qualities like these that make you want to read more about them. I am not a very big fan of romantic novels, especially those that may seem devoid of reality, but I liked this one especially because the characters seemed like real people, with real problems. I really enjoyed reading this book, it was like eating your favorite comfort food - you know it's not that great for you, but it warms your soul anyway! Not to mention, the absolutely beautiful and colorful cover makes me smile every time I pass my bookshelf now! :)more
Mark Nolan is grief-stricken learns that his sister was killed in an automobile accident, but he is astonished when he learns that he has been named guardian of his young niece, Holly. Mark is single and has no idea how to raise a child. To make matters worse, Holly has been unable or unwilling to speak since the death of her mother. Mark talks his brother, Sam, into allowing him and Holly to move into the ramshackle farmhouse the brothers have been renovating. Mark and Sam both are at wits end about how to help Holly until a young widow, Maggie, comes into their lives and effects a Christmas miracle.Kleypas is one of my favorite contemporary romance novelists (she also is an award-winning historical romance writer), This is the first in a series about the Nolan brothers. It's almost a novella with the holiday theme and touch of magic to it. It's highly entertaining and a quick read. I'm looking forward to the rest of the books in the series.more
I enjoyed this story set in one of the islands off the coast of Washington. I felt the draw of a community that knows one another. The story revolves around two unmarried brothers rearing their niece. The six-year-old girl, Holly, has not spoken since the death of her mother. But magic enters in the form of Maggie, a young widow and owner of a toyshop. Kleypas presents a story of imagery with a vivid description of the islands and the two brothers. Both brothers cater to man's need of drink. One brother, Sam, owns a vineyard; while the other brother, Mark, owns a coffee-grinding house. The story deals with family, relationships, and unconditional love. The story of the bulldog, Renfield, shows that love is blind and that everyone deserves love. This is a compact, but emotional Christmas novella.more
This story does not reflect Ms. Kleypas' writing talent. I was so surprised by the lack of creativity in the storyline, that I wondered if maybe it was an early work of the author's, in print for the first time. If that is so, a note from L.K. should be included. First time L.K. readers should try any of her other contemporary stories before judging her storytelling abilities.more
Very disappointing for a Lisa Kleypas book. More of a fit for the contemporary fiction genre than romance. The book was also very short (because I purchased this as an ebook, I wasn't aware of the length). If your expectations are set based on those two items, you may enjoy this book more than I.First, this really wasn't a romance: The hero is dating someone else for the first half of the book. Just when the hero and heroine really start to have a relationship, the book ends. There wasn't time for them to really know each other or function as a couple.Secondly, this book was way too short and felt like it cut off in the middle. This book also was establishing secondary characters for the rest of the series so not as much time was devoted to the hero and heroine as one would expect. This really would have functioned better as part of an anthology than a stand alone book. All I can say is thank goodness I didn't pay the full hardcover price of almost $17.While the secondary characters did intrigue me, I'm not going to be reading more of this series unless the above items are addressed.more
Losing her mother in a car accident left Holly to be raised by her Uncle Mark. Having no idea what to do with a 6 year old, Mark Nolan did the best he could with a young girl. Looking around a toy store they found the widow Maggie Conroy had a special way about her. With stories and possibilities, Maggie was able to help Holly find her voice again. Stunned that the belief in a fairy tale, a belief in magic was all the child needed, Mark was willing to give Maggie a closer look. Spoiling Holly was never anyone’s intention, but would she get what she really wanted most, a new mom for Christmas.Book 1 ….. A sweet and gentle story about family and learning to explore the possibilities of the holiday seasons. What an inspiration, full of fun (not including that Holly’s mother, Victoria died) and laughter. Recently found out this is a first book of a series, yeah, can only assume that the other characters of the family (Alex and Sam especially) will have a story. As I was reading it didn’t feel like a typical first book, all cluttered with information, but looking back it was a good introduction to the brothers and I will look for the rest of the series.more
Set in a small community on San Juan Island in Washington, it’s a story about a little girl, Holly, who lost her mother in a car accident. Mark Nolan’s life changes forever when he discovers his late sister deemed him guardian of her daughter, Holly. Mark is a confirmed bachelor living in a one-bedroom condo and thinks some mistake has been made. Unwilling to let Holly go into foster care, Mark moves into the battered old Victorian his younger brother Sam owns. Mark and Sam slowly rehab the house in order to make it a nice place for Holly, who after the accident has been unable/unwilling to speak. Mark wants to surround Holly with family and love.Six months after the accident, they enter a new toy store in town and meet Maggie Collins. Maggie moved to Friday Harbor and opened up the store as a way to get over her husband’s death from cancer two years ago. Maggie finds a way to reach Holly and like magic, Holly is speaking once again. Mark is drawn to Maggie despite the fact that he is currently dating Shelby. After Holly writes a letter to Santa asking for a new mother, Mark starts thinking that Shelby might make a good mother for Holly. But it’s Maggie that Mark begins to recognize that would make them all a family – even though Maggie doesn’t want to take a chance on love again.I’m nuts about Christmas and tend to love books set around the season. This book was not an exception. Mark and his brother were hilarious as the single guys forced to “grow up” and provide a home for their niece. The scene when Mark returns early from visiting Shelby felt very real. Of course a young guy would call in help. The scene at Thanksgiving was funny. I could just picture the incident and the looks on Holly and Maggie’s faces. I even enjoyed the glimpse we saw of their other brother, Alex. (I hope we see future novels with Sam and Alex.) I enjoyed Maggie and could understand why she was hesitant to give her hand another try at love. She was so young to become a widow. And I liked that Kleypas didn’t make Shelby into a monster – she just wasn’t ready to share Mark with a child.My biggest complaint about this books was it’s length. At 211 pages the book was a quick read. I wanted more.I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick diversion from shopping, wrapping, decorating, etc. It’s like one of those holiday movies on the Hallmark or Family channel. It’s light but it leaves you with a warm feeling and a smile on your face. 4.5/5 stars.more
Loved this book. Such a sweet romance. It was a light quick read but with such a nice story. Couldn't help but love the characters. Loved Renfield! book was worth reading just for him!!more
I love Kleypas's books and this was another good one, although in the class of short, sweet Christmas books. Mark is a confirmed bachelor who has just inherited his 6-yr old neice. Maggie has just opened a toy store and is trying to overcome the loss of her husband to cancer. The rest of the story is obvious, but well done. Mark and Maggie are likeable characters. Holly, Mark's neice is adorable without being syrupy. And the small island off the Washington coast where they all live creates an atmosphere of cozy escape.more
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