Hilderbrand leaves the beach for this Christmas novel—though it’s still set on her beloved Nantucket.
The whole island is looking forward to the annual Winter Street Inn Christmas party, except for the inn’s owner, Kelley Quinn, who's just discovered the hired Santa kissing his wife, Mitzi. Mitzi and Santa inform Kelley of their 13-year affair and Mitzi’s imminent departure from married life. Kelley, retreating to bed with smokes and booze, blasts Mitzi on Facebook and lists the inn for sale, its extravagant restoration having eaten through his once-sizable savings. Thankfully, he has grown children to help, though they have problems, too. Eldest son Patrick lives in Boston with his wife and kids, but the feds will soon be at the door to charge him with insider trading. Bartender Kevin, whose life was derailed by a bad woman, is now on track: He’s in love with Isabelle, the Winter Street Inn’s beautiful French manager. If only he can muster the courage to pop the question. And finally there’s Ava, a schoolteacher with the perfect boyfriend, except that he’s really not that into her. But Assistant Principal Scott is. Perhaps the only one who can tie up all these loose ends is Margaret Quinn, Kelley’s first wife and mother to the three kids, who sacrificed her family life in order to become the most famous journalist in America but whose arrival on Nantucket just may save the day. Increasingly, best-selling authors are producing Christmas novels, family dramas in which the Christmas Spirit prevails. They often seem like rushed marketing ploys, though occasionally they hold up to the author’s own standards. Hilderbrand’s falls somewhere in between; her skill at creating character is present, but the plot feels constrained and a little predictable.
A quick read to get you in the holiday mood, but not as strong as Hilderbrand’s best.