Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite authors and there's simply nothing she could publish that I won't read. Although she's made a nice foray into contemporary romance, if you're a die hard fan of her steamy historical novels, this series is very different in style and content. Instead of the laser focus on romantic chemistry and impossible odds, this is more of a family drama and natural progression. The series is about the Nolan brothers who are all a little damaged thanks to their very drunken and now deceased parents. To add to their disfunction, their sister has recently passed away and left her young daughter, Holly, to the care of three reluctant, baggage laden, bachelors who pull together to give Holly the best upbringing possible. It's a nice progression from Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, the first book, and although it picks up after those events, this is easily a standalone book.
Lucy Marinn is having a real bad day. She gets dumped by her long time boyfriend and has to move out of their home to make room for his new girlfriend, Lucy's own sister, Alice. Betrayed and completely befuddled, Lucy finds solace at a quiet beach, but her revery is disrupted when she bumps into and handsome stranger, winemaker, Sam Nolan. Sam takes an interest in the beautiful woman with green eyes, but she runs scared for the hills to get away from men in general. When Lucy gets into an accident and needs round the clock care, Lucy's friends are busy preparing for a wedding and ask their good friend Sam to look after her.
This is a slow paced, whimsical story, with a lot of historical reflection on the character's upbringing and the events that are shaping their lives. Lucy and Sam only have about 15 pages together in the first 100 or so, and months can pass between chapters, so if you're looking for instantaneous combustion when they meet, you're not going to get it here. Their chemistry builds at a realistic pace and is interweaved with friends, family and drama. There's also the addition of magic to the story that I'm not convinced is necessary to the storyline and makes it seem a little too Hallmark chanel. Compared to classic Kleypas, this reads more like three stars, but compared to other contemporary romances, it's easily a four. It's a refreshing, feel good story, without plot manipulations and dreaded misunderstandings, and makes for the perfect read for curling up with a cup of hot chocolate.