Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor #1) by Lisa Kleypas
In A Nutshell
- Genre: Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Chick-Lit
- Notes: Not the strongest Kleypas I’ve ever read, but a perfect, short holiday themed jaunt perfect for the festive season.
- Recommended For: Kleypas fans, and people looking for a Holiday themed romance that isn’t complete crap.
Not my usual style read, but perfect on a snowy day in December with some hot chocolate … It would probably make more sense to review this during the holiday season, but as I recently read it I wanted to get this review out now so that people can potentially benefit from it next Christmas. Or not, you know, whatever.
As I sat on the bus one day I realized that I was really lacking the Christmas spirit. Being an unnaturally warm winter, it didn’t feellike Christmas. I decided to look up and see if there were any Christmas romance novels that might strike my fancy. When I googled Christmas Romance Novels, I found Kleypas’sChristmas Eve at Friday Harbor pretty easily. Hoorah for her SEO advisors. The “Friday Harbor” series is actually her current project. I didn’t realize this was a series until after I finished reading this first book.
ONE LITTLE GIRL NEEDS A FAMILY 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.
ONE SINGLE MAN NEEDS A WIFE 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.
SOMETIMES, IT TAKES A LITTLE MAGIC… 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.
…TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE 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…
Ok, so after that synopsis you know this book is going to have sappy moments. But I haven’t been disappointed in Kleypas yet, so I thought for $6.99 (on Nook) why not give it a shot? And as luck would have it, I enjoyed it and read it in 2 days (mostly on my commute to work.) Sometimes you don’t need the next great american novel, or even just a Romance Saga. Sometimes, what you really want is to have an episode of romance. That’s what this book is. A quick look-see into a sweet and feel-good story. It’s low on angst but very big on heart.
Did it define my life? No. Did it get me into the holiday spirit? You know, it actually did. Mark is believable as a bachelor suddenly saddled with his lovable but heartbroken niece. Maggie is fun with her down to earth personality and her nuturing nature.
One complaint I do have? For a Kleypas novel it felt rather quick. Not just short, but it moved quickly and it was short. I felt a little cheated out of the story, but at the same time I didn’t feel like I was missing any of the plot. I’m just spoiled by her other contemporary novels (See The Travis Series (Sugar Daddy,Blue-Eyed Devil, and Smooth Talking Stranger)) and expected a longer story.
But what this book emphasized in it’s brevity, was an aspect of Kleypas’s storytelling that I forget to mention as I usually love everything she does. The way she writes her conversations between her heroine and hero are always fun, never boring, and extremely entertaining. When was the last time you read a romance novel because you like the conversations? Am I right?
In the end I’m going to give this ★★★, not because it wasn’t well done, but because compared to Kleypas’s other novels, I did feel it lacked oomph. But if it was anyone else I’d give it ★★★1/2 – ★★★★, because it was just what I was looking for at exactly the right time.
It’s a feel good story, between a realistic and charming couple. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a really great Christmas Romance Novel or even just a great, short and sweet romance novel. Read it on a dreary day, curled up in a warm chair with a warm mug of joe.
“Smooth Talking Stranger (Travises #3)” by Lisa Kleypas
In a Nutshell
- Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
- Notes: Arguably my favorite book in the Travis Series. Certainly the fastest moving one of the trilogy.
- Recommended for: Fans of Kleypas, Anyone who’s read any of the first two, Fans of Contemporary Romance.
A book that shows sometimes the only obstacle between you and what you want is yourself … This book is, as I said above, arguably my favorite in the Travis Series. As opposed to Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil, the beginning of this book gets right down to business.
Billionaire playboy, and all-around ladies’ man, Jake Travis has a reputation as big as the state of Texas. He drives too fast, lives too hard, and loves too many women to count.
In her advice column, and her love life, Ella Varner is always practical. So when she’s left holding her reckless sister’s baby, she decides to ask Jake Travis to take a paternity test.
Ella is instantly struck by Jake’s bold good looks and easy charm—but she’s not falling for his sweet talk. This big sexy tomcat needs to take responsibility for his actions, and Ella’s making him stick to his word. Now if she can only ignore the unspoken attraction that smolders between them…
Okay, first of all, his name is Jack Travis and has been since the first book. I love the person who completely screwed that up. I could go on about romance novel’s synopsis writers and romance novel’s cover designs, but that should be a post in-0f-itself.
As for Smooth Talking Stranger, I honestly wasn’t overly intrigued by the premise. It seemed to overly similar to the premise of Sugar Daddy. Girl is left to take care of a relatives child. But I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumption.
First of all, Ella is a completely different character from Liberty in Sugar Daddy. Liberty was eager and and motherly from the beginning of her having to take care of her half-sister, Carrington. On the other hand, Ella is someone who never even wanted to get married let alone raise children. Having a less-than-desirable role-model of a mother, Ella only takes care of her sister’s fatherless child in the beginning because she’s always been the one to “take care of her family’s messes.”
I found the growth of the character of Ella to be a fun and informative read. Having gone to a lot of therapy in college to deal with her childhood home life and eventually becoming a columnist, Ella is very self-aware and truly an independent heroine.
In the character of Jack Travis I was able to see a realistic, lovable hero. He has his flaws, but he has principles and a past. He’s the traditionalist in their relationship, which I found refreshing from many other novels out.
Kleypas does a great job of showing the bond grow between Luke, the baby, and Ella. It’s subtle and believable and also heart-wrenching. I also found the immediate acceptance of the baby by Jack Travis a wonderful, if not completely plausible, part of the book. If I hadn’t read the whole series I don’t think I would have so readily believed his role in Ella’s dilemma.
I would say if you’ve read Sugar Daddy and/or Blue-Eyed Devil and liked either/both of them you are missing out if you don’t read this one.
Read more reviews by Katie at The Biblio Files
Pre-Review: Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
Okay dudes so I’m going to try this thing where I give myself 24 hours or so after reading a book to fully digest it and see if my reviews are more objective. I’ve noticed a trend in my reviewing, which is basically “OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK THIIIIIS MUCH” and then overlooking flaws or issues I have with it until a bit later and then it’s a bit awkward and I’d have to go back and edit but that’s basically the Blogger Walk of Shame and so I don’t and I have a lot of reviews that are not quite reflective of my thoughts.
You guys are probably thinking “Is this bitch that hard up for content that she has to have MINI reviews before writing any real reviews? Why wouldn’t she just write one real review?” Fuck you, that’s why.
Anyways, I just finished Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas, after hearing all over the various internet places that she’s an Author of Note. At first I thought it was going to be nice, but boring, but nothing as bad as Julia Quinn (you guys, she is SO boring to me) or as good as a really good Loretta Chase or Eloisa James.
I’m pleased to say that my expectations were exceeded. There were several female friendships at the heart of the book, and it definitely made me want to read more of the Wallflowers series. I laughed a good bit, I was sold on the romance, and I just wanted to share that even a jaded old tart like me can be surprised sometimes.
Full review later, when the ~*~*~*~*~ have died down.
Sugar Daddy (Travises #1) by Lisa Kleypas
In A Nutshell
- Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit
- Notes: If I had not read Lisa Kleypas’ Regency Novels and knew that I liked her writing style, I would never have given this book a second glance. But I’m really glad that I did. It wasn’t everything I expected it to be but it went beyond my expectations.
- Recommended for: Kleypas fans, People who a new take on Rags to Riches, People who like Texas.
Not Your Average Chick-Lit … To get it out of the way let me post the Book’s Summary:
SHE’S FROM THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS
Liberty Jones [SO patriotic!] has dreams and determination that will take her far away from Welcome, Texas—if she can keep her wild heart from ruling her mind. Hardy Cates sees Liberty as completely off-limits. His own ambitions are bigger than Welcome, and Liberty is a complication he doesn’t need. But something magical and potent draws them to each other, in a dangerous attraction that is stronger than both of them.
HE’S THE ONE MAN SHE CAN’T HAVE
When Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans, Liberty finds herself alone with a young sister to raise. Soon Liberty is under the spell of a billionaire tycoon—a Sugar Daddy, one might say. But the relationship goes deeper than people think, and Liberty begins to discover secrets about her own family’s past.
The reason I like to include the summary is to allow you to see the published promotion and have something to compare it to. What I have to say about this summary is it really exaggerates the role of the men in the book. Make no mistake – this is a romance novel – but at its heart it is a story about a young girl who embraces a heavy burden that forever defines her life.
The whole beginning of this book is about Liberty growing up in a trailer park, going from awkward girl to young woman, seeing her mother go from man to man, and eventually raising her baby sister. The best part of this book is really the best part of any Kleypas book. She knows how to write characters that you love, feel for, and root for. Normally if I hit this much exposition in a romance novel it gets boring or the rising action falls flat. But for this novel, the character development is so crucial and done so well that I never felt bored.
I will say though, if you don’t like a lot of exposition – no matter how interesting – then you probably won’t like this book or it will take you awhile to read it. For me, it was so interesting I zoomed through it.
It’s charm is truly in its uniqueness as a contemporary romance – I would say while it develops into a fantastic romance story – it really starts as a coming-of-age tale of a young girl forced to take on great responsibilities at a very early age.
As for the two men, Kleypas writes this conflict in such a way that you really feel the struggle Liberty faces. At the same time – I had one I rooted for very hard, but I won’t name which so you all can experience that on your own.
Things to keep in mind:
- While I do admire the realism that Kleypas injects into the story by describing Liberty’s childhood, it is a romance novel and does have a sweeping love story in it.
- If you are looking for a serious book – I can’t imagine you’ve even made it this far into this review – then you are reading the wrong genre.
I was so pleased to find a contemporary romance novel that wasn’t simply sex-sex-minor plot-sex-drama-sex-sex-fin. Don’t get me wrong – there is some brown-chicken-brown-cow! But it isn’t overly flaunted and in the beginning of Liberty’s adult life it is very realistic – which I can’t help but respect in a RomNov.
If you have a weekend, or a trip, this is a great book to drag along with you and get lost in.
For more reviews by Katie check out The Biblio Files
Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas
I don’t pretend to know a lot about romance novels. I’ve been reading them since I was old enough to steal them from my Mom’s stash, but I don’t know what makes them good. I don’t know about the latest trends, or what other people may like to read. I just know what I like to read. And I like Lisa Kleypas.
I’ve read almost all her historical romance novels over the years, and several stick out as recommendation worthy. Most notably, for me, is Again the Magic. The story is entertaining, the sex is hot, and it illustrates the points I like most about Kleypas’ writing. Most notably, a look at how the Industrial Revolution changed the class structure in England and female characters who are curious about and willing to take charge of their sexuality.
In Again the Magic, Aline Marsden is the daughter of a powerful earl in the English countryside in the 1830s. She is mostly ignored by her parents, which leaves her plenty of time to run around with handsome stable boy John McKenna. Their childhood friendship grows into something more as they age, but McKenna is wise enough in the ways of the world to know that he realistically has no chance with the daughter of an earl. That doesn’t mean Aline can’t encourage him to explore a more physical side of their relationship. When the earl discovers Aline’s liaison with McKenna, the stable boy is forced off the estate and disappears from our heroine’s life.
McKenna reappears on the estate 12 years later as part of a business delegation from America come to discuss investment opportunities with the new earl, Aline’s brother Marcus. A lot can change in 12 years: McKenna is now a wealthy businessman, Aline has suffered through a mysterious illness that has kept her from marrying, and the new earl is much more socially progressive than their bear of a father was. McKenna’s feelings have changed too. He blames Aline for his forceful removal from home and has a plan for revenge. Aline knows that she can’t marry, because of her hang-up on this whole silly “illness” issue, and misses the hot fooling around she used to get up to with McKenna. She decides to take what she can get and sets out to seduce the stable boy turned businessman. This works well with McKenna’s bitter plans for revenge. Though there isn’t a crazy amount of sex in this book, the sex is hot and not the standard two positions that often get repeated in historical. So, who can blame McKenna for losing sight of his desire for revenge and Aline for forgetting that she was only after some casual sex?
Though the conflict that eventually brings our couple together feels a little forced, a stellar cast of secondary characters make the rest of the story entertaining. Look for a sassy gay friend, a younger sister recovering from a scandal, an alcoholic business partner, a matronly housekeeper, and a young, socially progressive but grumpy earl. These types of secondary characters often appear in Kleypas’ books and are always funny and engaging without being over the top.
Of course, Aline and McKenna find a happy ending but we also get to see a glimpse of the happy endings for a couple secondary characters. And if you still can’t get enough of Stony Cross Park, the estate where all this lovin’ goes down, several of Kleypas’ other books take place there as well. It’s a small, historical romance novel world.
Also, please ignore the terrible cover art. I swear the book is better than that.
Thanks to gertymac for the sexy review! A historical with more than two positions, you say?