Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor - Lisa Kleypas I have to agree with another review saying that things were too rushed. Even at the beginning, Holly goes from being completely mute to suddenly talking when a complete stranger gives her a conch shell and tells her its magic. It's just handwaved.

And because a lot wasn't fleshed out, the characters felt a little two-dimensional to me. Maybe it's because we'll get more information in the next three books in the series, but they won't be focused on Mark and Maggie and we could use more information on them to really want to root for them. The first book in a series should always err on the side of giving more information than less so the readers can start getting attached to the characters and understand their motivations, behaviors, and actions. We need more than, "Mark is from a broken home and Maggie is a young widow." Obviously those two scenarios immediately bring a measure of sympathy

The end of the Mark/Shelby relationship kind of came to an abrupt end, with the whole, "Suddenly, she's a bitch" escape door. She finds Mark taking care of Holly endearing until it means that a vomiting fever-ridden six-year old takes precedence over Shelby's cousin's engagement party. Then she's all, "Well, the kid isn't actually yours, so quit trippin'." It's like the author realized that when the inevitable breakup would happen, Shelby would garner a bit of sympathy from the readers, so she needs to do something to destroy any chance of that happening.

Then Mark and Maggie quickly go from consummating their relationship (whatever that was because we never really see the point where they go from friends who are attracted to each other to a romantic relationship) to getting engaged within the next day or so.

And this book really should have a different title. I could understand if the entirety of the book went from around Thanksgiving time to Christmas Eve, but the majority of the novel happens in the summer, then fall and most of December is breezed through, until the final chapter that is set on Christmas Eve. And it was more like an epilogue than a real chapter.

However, I did like the book. I knocked it out in a few hours. I do like how Holly was presented as an actual six-year old and not one of those annoying overly precocious children that are so prevalent in current fictional media. Nor did the author feel any need to tell any part of the story through the child's POV. I really hate that. I don't care what the kid thinks about anything that is going on in a book. It's usually why I get turned off when I see that a child is featured in a romance novel (that and I don't find childrearing to have any sort of romantic connotations). I only started reading this because I wanted to read Dream Lake and realized it was the third book in a series and I have a compulsive need to have to read the previous books.

All in all, enjoyable.