My Thoughts: At Christmas time, I basically throw out all my “rules” for clever entertainment and settle in for a joyous, delightful string of television films and even, the occasional novel. It’s not traditional for me to read Christmas fiction simply because I get my dose of a holiday cheer “fix” elsewhere but this year I decided it was worth reading at least one novel set at Christmas time and this gem of a novella earned the nomination. Telling a story that has been re-told many a time, Lisa Klaypas weaves a charming tale featuring characters from her “Friday Harbor” novels about Mark Nolan and the responsibility he fills following the death of his sister to his young niece, Holly. Mute since the death of her only parent, Holly is finally drawn out of her shell when the pair meets the vibrant, red-headed toy shop owner, Maggie. Hiding from her own tragic past following the death of a loved one, Holly and Mark learn that in the magic of Christmas, two people can find healing.
To be honest, I started out loving this story. It was easy-to-read, easy-to-please and an all-around charmer. There wasn’t anything out-of-the-ordinary but it “felt” right. 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, or really any author to achieve successfully. The cute flirting between Mark and Maggie remains innocent enough in their serendipitous meetings and Holly’s sweet nature will melt anyone’s heart. Then, things get a bit sticky half of the way through – and turn downright tacky in the final pages of the novel when the author decides her story wouldn’t be complete without a love scene.
In many ways, that diminishes what were cute albeit “adult” but humorous romantics – secondary though they are, that swept 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 was absent too often for my tastes). She is what the story surrounds itself with and is the one concession that allows the story to lessen its purity in the “adult” portions. Reading more like a novella even in its 200-seomthign page capacity I rooted for Maggie and Mark to wind up together and sighed with pleasure at the progression of their all-to-fast romance that left me happy and sad at its conclusion – the former because the story held my attention the whole time and was rewarding, and sad that it was actually over. Were it not for the elements that made then novel less-than-wholesome, I’ve have given this a perfect rating. It was a poignant read even if it did take the entire book to end on the holiday its title speaks of.
In Summary: Easy-reading, charming dialogue and loveable, “human” character’s makes ‘Christmas Eve’ a delight for any reader who enjoys Christmas fiction.
What to know: There are minor uses of profanity (h*ll, sh*t, a**, da*n) and social drinking – one character becomes tipsy after one drink questioning her dinner date if he’s trying to take advantage. Another thought has a character imagining making love to his companion as well as remarks about having intimate relations and one semi-graphic love scene in the final pages of the next-to-last chapter.