By Debbie Macomber
October 8, 2013
Carrie Slayton was elated when she started her career at the Chicago Sun-Times, but now she feels that she’s missing out on her chance to be a “real journalist.” Despite her managing editor’s promise that she would have her chance at interviews and human interest stories, for two years she has been covering only society weddings, parties, and fundraisers. Carrie has had enough. She is prepared to turn in her two-week notice and look for a job in the Pacific Northwest, nearer her family, but she can’t resist when her boss offers her a deal. If Carrie can secure an interview with elusive survivalist author Finn Dalton, whose book Alone, an account of life in the Arctic tundra, has spent seven months on bestseller lists, she can have the assignments she wants.
Finn Dalton grew up in Alaska and developed a love for its untamed wilderness from an early age. His distrust of women developed early too, starting with his mother’s leaving when he was ten and reinforced when another woman betrayed him. He never expected his book to earn him the level of attention it has, and he has no interest in satisfying the public’s hunger for personal information about him. Despite his reputation, Finn is no recluse, but he is determined to protect his solitary life from becoming fodder for media representatives who refuse to recognize boundaries. It helps that he spends much of his time in an isolated cabin in the Alaskan wilderness and that the few people who know his location are loyal and close-mouthed.
No one believed really believed that Carrie could track down the author whom far more experienced journalists had vainly pursued, but thanks to her tenacity, a sympathetic connection she establishes with Finn’s mother, and a friend of Finn’s who decides more human contact is in Finn’s best interest, she finds him. When Finn’s friend Sawyer flies her into the wilderness and points her in the right direction, Carrie expects to get her interview and return to civilization as soon as Sawyer returns for her. She is unprepared for Alaska’s brutal weather, for the wolf-like creature who appears ready to attack her, or for the large, graceful, silent man who reluctantly comes to her rescue. When a winter storm forces Carrie and Finn to spend forty-eight hours together in his small cabin, games of cribbage, shared laughter, and a mutual attraction neither is ready to name shatter their preconceptions about one another. But Carrie has her interview. Are her new feelings for Finn important enough for her to grant his request to kill the interview and the career aspirations she has cherished for years? Are Finn’s new feelings for Carrie strong enough to overcome his entrenched distrust of women? Can the effervescent, people-loving Carrie and the taciturn, solitude-craving really Finn find happiness together?
A holiday book from Debbie Macomber is almost as established a tradition for her fans as singing “Silent Night” and leaving milk and cookies for Santa. Starry Night may not be as conventionally Christmassy as Macomber’s angel books or her Mrs. Miracle duo, but it is filled with the sweetness, tenderness, warmth, and other feel-good emotions (along with a touch of the poignant) that Macomber’s readers expect from her books. It reminded me of her older romances, the ones with a clear focus on a single couple who fall in love, encounter obstacles, and still find their way to a happily-ever-after. If these are the qualities you are looking for in a Christmas romance, Macomber delivers with a full quotient of coziness and comfort.
If you are looking for layers of complexity, however, you will need to look elsewhere. Finn’s trust issues are resolved easily, Carrie’s patience is seemingly limitless, and—as Macomber herself observes in an author’s intro—this is “romance, plain and simple.” A warning to those for whom the title may evoke associations with Van Gogh’s famous painting and/or Don MacLean’s 1972 hit “Vincent”: you will find no tension between peace and hope, on one hand, and anguish and isolation on the other in Macomber’s Starry Night. Trust the cover. It’s a more accurate reflection of the contents. I refuse to be bothered by what this book isn’t. Instead, I’ll celebrate what it is: a perfect book to read curled in a chair by the Christmas tree, with a cup of peppermint tea and a frosted angel cookie at hand, a book that will leave me in just the right frame of mind to fall asleep and dream of sugar plums and happy endings.
I have a dozen or more Debbie Macomber Christmas books among my Christmas keepers plus last year’s Angels at the Table on my Kindle. Do you know Starry Night is the second Macomber Christmas book set in Alaska? The first was The Snow Bride a decade ago. The Trouble with Angels is my favorite Macomber Christmas book? Are you a Macomber fan? Do you have a favorite?