Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Review: 'Starry Night: A Christmas Novel' - Debbie Macomber*

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.  
 Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.  
Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.  
Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

Is it too early to mention the 'C' word? Because I'm gonna. I ended up reading Starry Night  on the train and initially I did find it a little weird trying to get into the Christmas spirit so early in October, however, it was more than worth it in the end.

This is only my second ever Macomber novel and I already knew what to expect and those expectations were high. More serious than her previous holiday novels, Starry Night didn't disappoint.

We're introduced to our heroine, Carrie quite quickly, but Macomber paints her character clearly enough to feel as though we know her mere pages in. Brimming with ambition and a healthy dose of stubbornness Carrie sets off to change her career by tracking down reclusive survival guide author, Finn. While the plot seemed a bit familiar to me, maybe a long ago Lori Foster novel? I think that Macomber manages to avoid any cliché traps and inject enough freshness into her story that I soon forgot any similarities with any previous books. There were a few points in the book where I thought I could see, with some sort of perverse inevitability, where the plot was going. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I was proved wrong. What I like about Macomber's novels is that, for a short while at least, they manage to cure me of my pessimism and I am simply able to sink into the romance of her story.

While Finn and Carrie's relationship is initiated fairly quickly, Macomber throws up enough roadblocks that it is also given time to mature. Making an interesting and refreshing couple who have to overcome their seeming conflicting lifestyles in order to make it, Macomber doesn't make this easy for Carrie and Finn and manages to respect both of their personalities in making compromises, something that I feel is missing in a lot of recent novels.

My only concerns with Starry Night is that Finn's past remains a bit of a conundrum to the reader and Macomber's attempts to justify his decisions and initial, worrying attitude towards women seems to be almost perfunctory in its execution. The novel also felt a little short to me, but I don't know if that's because I ending up reading it so quickly.

Aside from leaving me with Don McLean stuck in my head, Starry Night left me warm, fuzzy and decidedly (although cautiously) festive. A light, warmhearted read that is the perfect way to ease yourself into the holiday season I'd happily recommend Starry Night to anyone looking for a quick, romantic read.

*ARC copy received from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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