Book Review: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor #1)
Narrated By: Tanya Eby
Published By: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: October 2010
Audio Length: 4 hours, 11 minutes
Source: Library
Audience: Adult - Contemporary Romance

On The Writing and Story:

I will always be remorseful that I didn't manage to take a trip to the San Juan Islands while I lived in Washington State. It was always on my to do list, but somehow it just never worked out. I still hope to visit there someday, but until then I will have to be content with taking trips in my mind to the beautiful Pacific Northwest archipelago. Lisa Kleypas' Friday Harbor series can certainly help with that endeavor. I have never read any of her work before; I picked this book up solely because of its setting. In the end, I not only got to spend time in Washington State, but I also found an author and a series I truly enjoy.

This first installment in the Friday Harbor series centers around Mark Nolan and Maggie Collins. Mark, a handsome bachelor, has just received custody of his six-year-old niece, Holly, after her mother (his sister) dies in a car accident in Seattle. Mark convinces his younger brother, Sam, to help him raise the child. The three share a crumbling Victorian house that borders Sam's winery. I really loved the dynamic of this small, nontraditional family. The banter between the brothers was hilarious and realistic. I was also so happy to see them do everything possible to make Holly's life happy. It can't be easy raising a child whose parent has just passed away, but Mark and Sam rise to the occasion.

Maggie enters the story when a chance encounter brings Mark and Holly into her toy store. Maggie is a newcomer to the island; she recently moved to escape the memories of her husband's death. Everywhere she looks in Bellingham holds a story and she needs a fresh start. She hopes that the island can soothe the pain of her loss and provide new possibilities. She never expects to fall in love again, but there is something appealing about Mark Nolan that she can't seem to ignore.

The romance in this one is predictable, but I find that when I pick up books like this, I expect that. I read novels like this when I want to be swept up by a sweet love affair with minimal drama. I was so wrapped up in these characters that I didn't mind that I could see where this was headed from the beginning. I loved the sense of family and new beginnings. I was so excited to see that the future books will focus on the other Nolan brothers. I'm hoping that Mark, Maggie, and Holly will make appearances from time to time.

My one regret is that I didn't read this during the holiday season. It's a perfect romance to get you in the holiday spirit! I also just found out this was made into a Hallmark movie - "Christmas with Holly". I wonder if I can find it on dvd somewhere....

On The Audio:

Tanya Eby did an admirable job of bringing this story and its characters to life. I am always leery when a female narrator has to voice male characters, but she did well with the task. I preferred her narration of Maggie and Holly, but I didn't find myself cringing when a male character spoke. I plan to listen to the other novels on audio as well. There is nothing remarkable about this novel on audio, but it is easy to listen to and provided an enjoyable experience. 

One Last Gripe: I was frustrated by Shelby's attitude about Mark and being a father.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The characters

First Sentence: Until his sister's death, Mark Nolan had treated his niece Holly with the usual offhand affection of a bachelor uncle.

Favorite Character: Mark

Least Favorite Character: Shelby

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 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.

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…


  1. Sometimes predictability is comforting. I totally agree. Great review.

    1. Thanks for checking out the review. This novel was like comfort food - warm, cheerful, and inviting.

  2. I haven't read anything by Lisa Kleypas and this isn't my typical read (I don't read much adult romance), but...I am a sucker for holiday romances. :) This sounds like a sweet read and I'm definitely going to check it out. Great review, Andrea!

    1. I am not always a fan of adult romances, but I find reads like this are a great way to recharge when I have overdosed on YA romances. This one also has a lot of the same elements I love in YA contemporaries romances - the characters just happen to be older and have more adult issues.

  3. I saw the movie-- it was so sweet. I can't wait to read the novel behind it.


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