‘CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR,’ by Lisa Kleypas. Reviewing the 2012 Christmas romance novel. All review text © Rissi JC

At Christmas time, I basically throw out all my “rules” for clever entertainment and settle in for a joyous string of television films. It’s not traditional for me to read Christmas fiction but this year I decided it was worth reading at least one novel set at Christmas. Christmas Eve At Friday Harbor is the gem of a novella that earns the nomination.

STORY: Telling a story that has been re-told many a time, Lisa Kleypas weaves a charming tale featuring characters from her “Friday Harbor” novels. This time about Mark Nolan and the responsibility he takes on following the death of his sister. Mute since the death of her only parent, Holly is finally drawn out of her shell when she and her guardian, Mark, meets the vibrant, red-headed toy shop owner, Maggie. Hiding from her own tragic past following the death of a loved one, Maggie and Mark learn that in the magic of Christmas, two people can find healing. 

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REVIEW: To be honest, I did start out loving this story. It’s easy-to-read and an all-around charmer. Maggie and Holly’s meeting is a little piece of magic and Mark’s impression of her isn’t so much physical as curiosity; something hard for a secular fiction to achieve successfully. The cute flirting between Mark and Maggie remains innocent enough in their serendipitous meetings and Holly will melt anyone’s heart. Then, things get a bit sticky halfway through and downright tacky in the final pages of the novel with a love scene.

This does two things. It cheapens the story and makes Mark seem less a gentleman. In many ways, it also diminishes the cute albeit “adult” romantics. Prior to this, these two did sweep us off our feet. Fortunately, it doesn’t take away from the “cute factor” of young Holly who was the center of the story even when she was scarce (and she’s absent too often for my tastes). Reading more like a novella even in its 200-something page capacity I still root for Maggie and Mark to wind up together. Were it not for the elements that makes the novel tacky I’d give this a perfect rating. It’s a poignant read even if it did take the entire book to end on the holiday its title speaks of.

IN CONCLUSION: Easy-reading, charming dialogue and loveable characters makes Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor a delight for any Christmas fiction reader!

About the Book:

Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 2012
Series: Friday Harbor
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Rating: 4 out of 5

Content: There are minor uses of profanity (h*ll, sh*t, a**, da*n) and social drinking. Another character imagines making love to his companion as well as remarks about having intimate relations. There’s one semi-graphic love scene in the final pages of the next-to-last chapter. 

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. Great review Rissi! I've seen this book last time I was in the bookstore but I wasn't sure what it was about. Could use some more Christmas-y books this time of year, lol (I shockingly have so few!)

    1. It was really sweet save for the immoral bits, Lianne. For a more wholesome take on the story, none is better than the adaptation from Hallmark Hall of Fame – the movie was precious.

      You and I have that in common: I rarely read any Christmas novels but I enjoyed this one and I think I have one other also. It's too busy to get much reading done these days. :)

      Thank YOU for reading!

  2. I totally agree with your opening sentence! I also watch and read a lot of 'fluff' around Christmas! This one sounds sweet, but I've already got my fill for this year on my nightstand.

    1. Yes, I watch TONS of "fluff" type of films around this time, Birdienl. I make fun of them but they're really indicative of what "wholesome" means. And that is to their credit.

      This novel was sweet – I wouldn't mind reading more Christmas fiction but don't. Do you have any recommendations?

    2. At the moment, I have on my nightstand (but not yet read, so I don't know if I can recommend them)Coming Home from Patricia Scanlan and The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall (she's an Amish fiction novelist and she has three other Christmas novellas out). In the last years I read Silver Bells by Luanne Rice (of which adaptation you did a movie review last year, the book is much better than the movie!) and Comfort and Joy from Kristin Hannah (which was so-so)

    3. Hello Rissi! Hope you've had a wonderful Christmas! I finished both the books I told you about previously, so I thought I'd come back and let you know whether I recommend them or not. About Coming Home by Patricia Scanlan: absolute recommendation! A wonderfully sweet story about the importance of family, with a sweet romance. I've always loved Irish authors and Patricia Scanlan does not dissapoint. I'm even thinking about picking up some other books by her. The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall was also nice. This was my first Cindy Woodsmall book and her writing style is different from other Amish writers, such as Wanda Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis and I liked the style. The story is touching, the characters not very well fleshed out (but it is a novella after all). It's not really a Christmas story, but it does end at Christmas.

    4. Hello, Birdienl! Thanks so much for that – I really appreciate it!

      For some reason, I've never gotten "into" the world of Amish fiction though I cannot say why exactly. 'Coming Home' sounds adorable – I always love sweet-natured romances! And a setting at Christmas? What could be better!? Recently I read a novel about Irish immigrants though it was not a Christmas novel.

      So glad you let me know. Now… I must look it up on Amazon. :)

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