By Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Mark Nolan’s strongest commitment is to his coffee business, not withstanding his long-term girlfriend. That changes when his sister Victoria is killed in an automobile accident and Mark finds that she has named him as guardian of her six-year-old daughter, Holly. Her happiness becomes Mark’s primary concern: “For the first time in his life he knew what it felt like to have his heart broken… not broken in a sad or romantic sense, but broken open. He had never known this before, the desire to surround another human being with perfect happiness.” But Holly, grieving for her mother, has stopped speaking, and Mark feels helpless to end her silence.
Maggie Collins is no stranger to grief. A widow, she has opened a toy store, the Magic Mirror, in Friday Harbor as one more step in building a new life. Even a mute child loves a toy store, and so it’s hardly surprising that Mark and Holly visit the Magic Mirror. Holly is enchanted by a fairy house that Maggie has made, and the two are clearly kindred spirits in their love for the imaginary world of fairy lore and other magic. Mark’s not happy about this departure from reality, but he tolerates it since, with Maggie’s encouragement, Holly begins to speak.
More novella than novel, Kleypas’s first Friday Harbor book has less sizzle than her usual fiction, but it has the memorable characters the mix of sigh-worthy romance and real-life issues that characterized her Travis family contemporaries. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor is several love stories—the love of a child, the love of family (even dysfunctional ones), and the love between a man and a woman—all tied up in a Christmas bow.
Note: I am one of "Lisa's Divas" - a group of select fans who share info and content related to Lisa's novels and get sneak peeks and swag in return.
Once Upon a Winter’s Eve
By Tessa Dare
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Spindle Cove’s Christmas ball is in progress, and Violet Winterbottom, an experienced wallflower, has claimed a corner from which to watch the dancing when a stranger, wet and bloody, staggers into the room and falls unconscious at her feet. The language he speaks is a strange one to the citizens of Spindle Cove; only Violet can understand him. She identifies his language as Breton, the language of Brittany-- “As in Brittany, France,” as Bram Rycliff (hero of A Night to Surrender) says. Bram and the other members of the militia are suspicious of the stranger. He may be a spy or the scout for an invasion force.
Violet isn’t sure she trusts him either, nor is she sure she trusts herself. The last time she gave her trust to a man, she ended up with a broken heart and indelible memories of The Disappointment. Should she listen to her excellent mind that tells her this man is a mystery and a stranger, and an enemy stranger at that, or dare she listen once again to her heart?
Broken heads and broken hearts, language games and a truncated letter, pistols and promises—Dare weaves them all into a story with humor and heat and heart-capturing characters. You can read an excerpt here.
I knew I’d love this book from the moment I read the tagline: “Some wallflowers bloom at night...” and I did. I loved Violet’s intelligence, vulnerability, and courage. I loved her stranger in the night. And I loved seeing Bram and Susanna’s happiness continuing to grow. Spindle Cove has become one of my favorite fictional settings. My second visit there was a rare treat, and I look forward to returning with A Week to Be Wicked (March 27, 2012).
I want to share the love by giving away two ecopies of Once Upon a Winter’s Eve--one in honor of a terrific author and one in honor of an equally terrific editor. Winners will be chosen randomly from among those who comment. With apologies to international visitors, the contest is open only to visitors within the U. S.
What’s your favorite Christmas novella? To what 2012 books are you most looking forward?