Posts Tagged ‘Friday Harbor’

Friday Harbor #4

When Justine Hoffman was born her mother cast a spell to protect her from heartbreak, and as a result, she is incapable of falling in love. Eventually Justine’s irrepressible curiosity —and her wish to lead a normal life —get the better of her, and she finds a way to temporarily block the enchantment. However, when Justine meets the mysterious Jason Black, she accidentally unleashes a storm of desire and danger that will threaten everything she holds dear . . . and together Justine and Jason discover that love is the most powerful magic of all.


Lisa Kleypas has a special place at the top of my list of favourite authors. I love her historicals but I understood her reasons for wanting to extend herself as an author by writing contemporary novels. The Travis series is one of my favourites and I enjoyed the first three books in the Friday Harbor series. So I was looking forward to Justine’s story but Crystal Cove was so disappointing.

What didn’t work for me ~

There was so much emphasis on the witchcraft that, at times, it seemed more like a paranormal book with romantic elements. It didn’t even feel like part of the Friday Harbor series. Apart from a very brief appearance by Zoë and Alex, none of the other characters from the previous books made an appearance. I missed those delighful family moments.

There was no slow build up of the relationship between Justine and Jason and I never felt that all important chemistry – that spark – between them. The relationship seemed very superficial and more about lust at first sight than love at first sight.

“Because love is there not just in the big romantic moments, but in all the little things. The way he touches your face, or covers you with a blanket when you’re taking a nap, or puts a Post-it note on the fridge to remind you about your dentist appointment. I think those things glue a relationship together even more than all the great sex.”

Zoë sums up my feelings perfectly. I missed those little gestures that speak volumes about the hero. You know the ones I mean – Derek Craven stealing Sara’s spare pair of glasses and keeping it in his breast pocket, next to his heart; St Vincent bringing the warming brick on the coach for Evie’s cold feet; Jack Travis changing a diaper; Alex Nolan’s endearing habit of leaving Post-It notes everywhere. These guys know how to steal a woman’s heart!

Unfortunately, Jason didn’t grab my heart. He was too controlling, aggressive and manipulative. There was no give and take as far as he was concerned. Everything had to be done his way. So what happened to the impulsive and outspoken Justine of the previous books?  She simply caved into his domineering ways.

Yes, there’s plenty of steamy sex in this book but I found the ‘truss me up like a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store deli’ scene was a complete turn off.  It didn’t fit in with the tone of the story and it was so unromantic.

What worked for me ~

As always, I cannot fault Ms Kleypas’s evocative and multi-textured writing:

As Justine unwrapped the linen, a wonderful perfume rippled upward, honey-sweet, greeny-herbal, lavender-musty, candle-waxy. The cloth, with its frayed selvage and ancient fingerprint smudges, fell away to reveal a leather-bound book with ragged deckle-edged pages. The leather binding gleamed like the skin of black plums and cherries.

Her lovely touches of humour are there too:

“A wonderful-looking man, isn’t he?” Sage asked of no one in particular. “And so well endowed.”
“Sage,” Justine protested.
“I was not referring to the fruit of his loom, dear. I meant endowed with looks and intelligence. Although …” Sage proceeded to lengthen the crotch of the pants. She held them up and asked Justine, “What do you think? Have I allowed enough room in the rise?”
“I think you’re a little too interested in what he’s packing.”

The writing and humour did increase my rating by half a star.

Perhaps I’m just getting nostalgic in my old age and longing for those heart-melting stories that leave a big smile on my face and those sigh-worthy heroes like Westcliffe, McKenna and St Vincent!


RATING: ★★★½


Read February 2013

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Find out what books are on my auto-buy list for March


A new review of Crystal Cove, the latest book in Lisa Kleypas’s Friday Harbor series


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and much more!

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Crystal Cove (Friday Harbor, #4)



When Justine Hoffman was born her mother cast a spell to protect her from heartbreak, and as a result,  she is incapable of falling in love. Eventually Justine’s irrepressible curiosity —and her wish to lead a normal life —get the better of her,  and she finds a way to temporarily block the enchantment.

However, when Justine meets the mysterious Jason Black, she accidentally unleashes a storm of desire and danger that will threaten everything she holds dear . . . and together Justine and Jason discover that love is the most powerful magic of all.


Lisa Kleypas has a sneak peek from the final book in her Friday Harbor series on her website.


I’ve already pre-ordered my Kindle copy!





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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 fiance 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.


I absolutely loved this book! Once I started reading, I just couldn’t put it down. It has everything I have come to expect from my favourite author; everything that makes her star shine bright amongst the constellation of other romance writers.

Ms Kleypas has that innate ability to draw me right into her stories with her lyrical and imaginative writing. Her vivid images appeal to the senses on every level:

The clouds lowered, smothering the vestigial layer of daylight. In the distance a thunderhead sent rain to the ocean in showers that moved like gauze veils over the windows.


Carefully she extracted each muffin and set it on the plate. The scent of hot berries, white sugar, buttery streusel, rose in a melting-sweet updraft.

Sam Nolan’s combination of geekiness, laid-back sexiness and easy charm is quite a potent mixture, making him totally irresistible. I’m not even going to mention the amazing body, lean and long, muscle stacked on muscle. His fear of any long-term committed relationship is understandable given the emotional wasteland he grew up in with his alcoholic parents.

It wasn’t a family. It looked like one on the outside but it was no more a family that the carcasses hanging in a meat larder are a herd of cows.”

I love how completely honest he is with Lucy about the type of relationship he offers and particularly when he tells her about Kevin asking him to take Lucy out as a favour. But he’s a man of contradictions because his love for and commitment to Holly is obvious. The scenes they share are so heart-warming and show Sam in a very different light. I adore the way he calls her ‘gingersnap’.

I like Lucy and, although I have never been in her situation, I can certainly empathize with her. I’m sure I’d be angry, hurt and questioning myself, after such a breakup, just as she does.

The worst part about having been deceived the way she had been was it made you lose faith in yourself. When your judgement was that wrong about something, you could never be fully certain of anything ever again.

I enjoyed watching her picking up the threads and moving on with her life.

I love how Ms Kleypas captures all the subtle nuances of the growing relationship between Sam and Lucy. They talk to each other about their work and share intimate personal detail, all creating the necessary bond between them to carry their relationship to the next level. I really felt their uncertainty and mixed emotions as they begin to realise what started out as a no-strings-attached physical relationship has blossomed into something they are afraid to acknowledge, particularly Sam. I really love the scene where he finally takes that leap of faith and realises, if he lets go of the invisible chains that bind him to the past, he can have the one thing he truly wants – Lucy.

He could love her madly, joyfully, without limit.”

I enjoyed the scenes between Sam, Mark and Holly. The banter between the three of them is delightful and creates a warm family atmosphere. I love Lucy’s friends, Justine and Zoë. Everyone should have friends like these in times of trouble! Oh, and not to forget Renfield. He’s just adorable!


The story is peppered with lovely touches of humour and it’s hard to pick a favourite but I love this conversation between Lucy and Sam.

”Do you need to…calm down? She asked delicately.
Sam shook his head, rueful amusement flickering in his eyes. “Let’s just assume this is my default mode during showertime. Don’t worry – I still won’t make any moves on you.”
“I’m not worried. I just don’t want you to drop me.”
Sexual arousal doesn’t rob me of physical strength,” he informed her. “Brainpower, yes. But I don’t need that to help you shower.”

Ms Kleypas doesn’t disappoint with the heart-warming happy ending and the Epilogue is just the icing on a scrumptious cake. It’s a delightful book which left me with a lovely glow and the magical elements seemed to enhance the almost whimsical quality of the story.

I’m looking forward to Dream Lake because Alex Nolan has reached rock bottom in Rainshadow Road and he is definitely in need of some tender loving care.


RATING: ★★★★★

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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.

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.

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.

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…


Sometimes the most ordinary-looking things have magic in them…you just have to look hard enough.

This book left me with such a lovely warm glow! From the moment I started reading it, I was drawn right into the lives of Mark, Maggie, Holly and the other Nolan brothers. It is a simple story but written with such emotional depth. They seemed like real people, experiencing all the joys, fears, frustrations and heartache that life brings and, as Maggie says, those ordinary moments that, looking back, seem somehow magical.


The beautiful setting of Friday Harbor really enhances the atmosphere of the book and there are some memorable funny scenes. Cooking the turkey in the Nolan household is not to be missed!!

RATING: ★★★★★

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Dream Lake takes readers once again to the exquisite setting of Friday Harbor, and tells the story of Zoe Hoffman, an innkeeper who has all but given up on love. She’s a gentle, romantic soul, but has been so hurt in the past that she dare not trust her heart with anyone. Especially not Alex Nolan. Alex is the most haunted of all the Nolan brothers. He drinks to keep his demons at bay and not only has he given up on love, he has never, ever believed in it. Zoe and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes, it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark.


I really loved this book and it is my favourite in the Friday Harbor series so far. It’s an original and charming story of two unlikely people who find love with a little help from a very outspoken ghost, with a bittersweet love story of his own to tell. If, like me, you love fantasy movies like Ghost and Just Like Heaven, you’re sure to love this book.

I do have an insatiable craving for brooding, emotionally tortured heroes and Alex more than satisfied that craving. He acts a complete ass, at times, but I just knew that under all that cold cynicism, there is a lonely, vulnerable man who just needs the right woman to tear down his defences (unfortunately, not me). I loved seeing those moments of tenderness and thoughtfulness which reveal so much about the man beneath the gruff exterior. My favourite scene is when he presents Zoë with a special collar for her cat, Byron, with a miniature transmitter which opens the cat door automatically.

“It’s a gift. I figured you’d be busy enough with your grandmother, you didn’t need to be opening the door a dozen times a day for a cat.”

I particularly like that scene because it leads to their first kiss!

I love his insistence on using sticky notes everywhere when he’s remodelling the cottage. Somehow this quirkiness seems endearing and their conversation made me smile.

“You’re wasting trees,” Zoë told him at one point. “Have you ever thought of making notes on your phone, or getting a digital tablet?”
“Post-it’s are faster.”
“What about writing a list on one big piece of paper?”
“I do that sometimes,” he said.
“On jumbo Post-it’s.”

I adore Zoë. She’s the complete opposite of Alex; sweet, gentle and compassionate. Although she’s had her share of emotional heartache, she hasn’t let it sour her life. Maybe it’s her ability as a wonderful cook that has sustained her and having Emma, her grandmother, as a constant in her life and someone who loves her unconditionally.

I think, more than anything , it is Ms Kleypas’s ability to convey so eloquently the raw emotional connection between Alex and Zoë that made this unlikely pairing work so beautifully.

He felt his senses opening to take her in, the incredible lush delicacy of her. She smelled like crushed flowers, a dry and innocent scent, and he wanted to open her shirt and breathe it directly from her skin.

Those round blue eyes saw too much, things he’d spent a lifetime concealing. She couldn’t help but see how close he was to crumbling. But there was no judgment in her expression. Only kindness. Compassion.

There was no word for this kind of relationship, for the way she made him feel. The clasp of their hands contained something more than shared warmth, more than skin pressed to skin…it felt as if they were holding something together, keeping it safe.

Whereas the magical elements in Rainshadow Road simply enhanced the story, the ghost (Tom) forms an integral part of this story. I like how gradually details of his identity emerge and we learn of the bittersweet love story that connects Tom and Emma. At times, it brought tears to my eyes.

” …Some men go their whole lives dreaming of being loved like that, and I threw it all away.”

It also becomes obvious just how much Tom’s presence impacts on Alex’s view of life. I loved the interactions between Tom and Alex and this is one of my favourites.

“The problem is, I’m shackled to you. I go where you go.” (the ghost)
“There’s got to be a way to get rid of you, “Alex muttered, rubbing his face with his hands. “Therapy. Medication. An exorcist. A lobotomy.”

I’ve experienced first-hand living with a close family member who is suffering from dementia and thought Ms Kleypas’s portrayal of the effects on Emma, as the sufferer, and Zoë, as her carer, was very realistic.

Finally, I can’t end this review without reference to Ms Kleypas’s descriptions of Zoë’s culinary delights which seem to have such therapeutic qualities. I could smell all those wonderful aromas wafting past my nose and taste those mouth-watering delicacies.

VERDICT: A lovely, sometimes bittersweet romance, with a heart-warming touch of fantasy

RATING: ★★★★★

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