In the last installment of the charming Winter Street trilogy, the Quinn family braces for the storm of the century.
Unlike the first two novels, which span just a few days over two consecutive Christmases at the Quinn's historic Nantucket inn, the finale covers much of a year and shifts the focus from patriarch Kelley Quinn to his four children. Youngest son Bart is still missing in action in Afghanistan—the light in his childhood room has remained on for the past 18 months. Eldest son Patrick is serving the last few months of a prison sentence for fraud, while his wife Jennifer's patrician life is crumbling thanks to prescription drugs. Kevin, the flaky middle son approaching middle age, is finally coming into his own with a successful beachside eatery and a blooming confidence—he's finally proposed to girlfriend Isabelle. Lastly, Ava is in the enviable position (or not, depending on her mood) of dating both carpenter Nathaniel and vice principal Scott. Adding to her romantic confusion, she meets Potter, a professor at Columbia, who offers her a vision of a life beyond the island. As the Quinn children finally iron out their lives, Kelley confronts the end of his own—his cancer, thought to be in remission, has moved to his brain, with increasingly debilitating results. All is brought to a frantic head on Christmas Eve, the date of Kevin and Isabelle's wedding, when an impending snowstorm strands the guests off-island. If this all seems a bit soapy, Hilderbrand's tight pacing and breezy tone keep the story from heavy-handedness. But be warned: when Bart's MIA status finds resolution, tears may be shed.
A series only works when the characters are worth following over the long haul, and Hilderbrand is a master, making for a satisfying conclusion to her Christmas at the Inn story.