I resisted reading Lisa Kleypas’s new series, despite loving her historicals and Texas-set contemporaries. “Friday Harbor” sounded twee and the cover and title of Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor seemed overly sentimental. But I finally gave it a chance and then read Rainshadow Road immediately after.
Lucy Marinn’s sister Alice had meningitis as a child and afterwards her parents cosseted and spoiled Alice. But one time, when she actually had her father’s attention, Lucy discovered glassmaking. She also discovered that she could transform the glass, a magic she instinctively kept secret. Fast forward and Lucy is living happily in Friday Harbor until her boyfriend Kevin dumps her and tells her to move out because her sister is moving in. Almost immediately she runs into hunky Sam Nolan, but she doesn’t want to immediately jump into a new relationship.
That works for Sam, because he prefers to avoid commitment. His parents had a destructive marriage and he wants to avoid repeating their mistakes. He just wants to focus on his vineyard. Lucy pushes him out of his comfort zone without meaning to. He enjoys spending time with her in a nonsexual way and wants to stay with her – and that scares him.
I can pinpoint the exact point I fell in love with Lucy and Sam. Kevin contacts Sam, asking him to romance his ex so the in-laws will feel better about him leaving one daughter for the other. Sam (who unbeknownst to Kevin already met Lucy) agrees. I thought this would come back to bite Sam in the end to cause a big conflict at the end. Instead, Sam acts like a grown-up and immediately tells Lucy about her ex’s plan and that he wants to ask her out, Kevin or no Kevin. Good communication always wins me over.
I’m less enamored of the magical element. It doesn’t seem to serve much purpose, so I’m not sure why Kleypas included it. I’m also confused by the claim on the back of the book (and in an ad in the back) that Rainshadow Road is the first book in the Friday Harbor trilogy. Is there a reason Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor isn’t considered part of the series? Is it because it is a straight contemporary, no magic in sight?
I do like how the Friday Harbor series marries romance to women’s fiction. It’s similar to what Kleypas did with the Texas books, but more obvious. I think the romance in Rainshadow Road works perfectly, and maybe this will bring a new audience to Kleypas’s books. The Friday Harbor books are less steamy, which may disappoint a few older fans.
I look forward to reading the youngest Nolan brother’s story in Dream Lake, which just released this week. It looks like a ghost is narrating, which might integrate the magical element into the narrative better. Does anyone know who the hero and heroine of Crystal Cove are? There are no Nolan brothers left to pair off, after all.
Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiancé Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy’s bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life. Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy’s parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to “romance” Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.
Read an excerpt here.
Other books in the Friday Harbor series: