Monday, December 25, 2017

Book Review: Starry Night, by Debbie Macomber

Starry Night
Debbie Macomber
Mass Market Paperback, 331 pages
Ballantine Books, October, 2014
Christmas Fiction, Christmas Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Source: Barnes & Noble bookstore

Synopsis: 'Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from 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.

My first Macomber novel was also a Christmas one -- Angels at the Table, which I read in late December of 2013, posting my review in January of 2014. So, when I came across Starry Night at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore, I grabbed it right away! I knew I was in for another great treat! 

Macomber is known as "the official storyteller of Christmas", and well she deserves that title! These two novels I've read were full of joy, humor, romance, and that special warmth that belongs only to this holiday.

In addition to all of the above, the two romantic leads were interesting and easy to like. Carrie Slayton is a journalist, while Finn Dalton is a writer whose memoir, Alone, has propelled him into bookish fame, in spite of which he prefers to remain as reclusive as he can. Both of these characters share a love of writing, in their own separate spheres. However, there are marked differences between them, as Carrie is a city girl, while Finn is the type of guy who thrives on wilderness survival.

At the beginning of the novel, Carrie is chafing at the bit. She's heartily sick and tired of covering society events for her newspaper, the Chicago Herald, yearning to be given more important assignments, such as news stories interviews, and human interest stories. Her editor, however, seems intent on keeping her writing for the society page, and Carrie feels frustrated, as well as unappreciated.

Then comes an unexpected break in the form of a surprising assignment: if, her editor tells her, she can find and interview the elusive Dalton, she will then be able to choose any assignment she wants. So Carrie sets out to find the man -- by going to Alaska.

I loved Carrie's determination in seeking out this author that no other reporter had been able to interview before. She did her investigative work thoroughly, flying out to Seattle, seeking out and hiring a charter plane pilot to take her out to Finn's wilderness home. In order to take on this assignment, though, she unfortunately had to forego spending Thanksgiving with her family, but it was necessary for her to pay this price, if she wanted to get those meatier writing assignments.

I don't know if I would have gone as far as to not spend such an important holiday with my family for the sake of my career. Thankfully, her own family was very supportive of her in this decision, and it was a good thing they were, too, because of how everything worked out in the end! Not only did Carrie move on to a much better job, but she found the love of her life, who was equally supportive of her career.

Finn has been carrying some emotional burdens for most of his life, and they have kept him alienated from not only his mother, but most people, as well. As a result, he has serious trust issues, and totally resents being importuned by a nosy female reporter. The only being he fully trusts is his faithful, wolfish dog, whose rather quirky name is "Hennessey".

How these two finally meet and end up in a romantic relationship makes for some truly delightful reading! Initially there's plenty of friction, but this gradually begins to change. Beneath Finn's deceptively crusty exterior, Carrie discovers a sensitive, caring man who has been badly hurt, but, in spite of that, begins to open up to her. 

These two people were able to create a wonderfully supportive relationship with each other, in spite of their differences. In the process, they totally delighted this reader with the intensity of their love, not only for each other, but for their own unique ways of being themselves. They succeeded in not losing themselves in their relationship, but were able to navigate the tricky balance between enmeshment and independence which is the difficult-to-achieve ideal in any romantic relationship.

This was a whirlwind romance, with cute romantic gestures from Finn, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute! There were also tenderness, passion (although it was controlled, due to Macomber's Christian beliefs) and mutual respect on the part of the two leads. 

The secondary characters were great, as well! I loved Finn's mother, Joan, even though I had a hard time seeing how she could have done what she did, back when Finn was such a young boy. Still, she loved her son, and was desperate to have a relationship with him.

I also loved Carrie's mom. In spite of the fact that she wanted to see her daughter for Thanksgiving, she was nothing if not encouraging as Carrie set out on her mission of finding Finn Dalton.

Sawyer, the pilot who was Finn's closest friend, was interesting, although he wasn't featured often in the novel. I admired his staunch loyalty to Finn.

Although she was funny and mostly supportive of Carrie, her best friend at the newspaper, Sophie, did "put her foot in it" at one point in the plot. She tended to be a bit overprotective of Carrie, and gave her some very negative advice at times. Still, I thought she was a good foil for Carrie, and she really did have her friend's best interests at heart.

I loved the whole "cozyness" of this novel, in spite of the fact that the female protagonist had to go off into the wilds of Alaska. This novel just had all of that wonderful Christmas feeling that includes family ties and close friendships, as well as the inclusion of a serendipitous romance! Also, I loved the title, as it immediately reminded me of the famous Van Gogh painting of the very same title. And it was one special, starry night that the whole romance began, too.

Another huge plus for this book was that it was completely clean, having no sex scenes at all. I thought this was entirely appropriate for a book with a Christmas setting. In addition to this, there was no profanity, either, another huge plus, as I totally detest coming across such words as "the F bomb" in fiction!

The Epilogue is a very funny email Carrie sends to Sophie. It includes an "interview" with Finn in which he and Carrie keep drifting off track, with Carrie trying to be serious and stick to the interview, while Finn keeps teasing her. And Carrie has finally escaped society-page writing!

There's bonus material at the end of the book too -- an interview with the author, several samples of her annual Christmas letters to her family, and a cute, whimsical story titled "Lost and Found in Cedar Cove", about a dog with a very special mission. I greatly enjoyed reading all these extras, as well!

In future, I will make sure to include at least one Macomber Christmas novel every time that most wonderful of holidays rolls around! I know it will help me to enjoy this beautiful season that much more! And this particular novel is definitely one of Macomber's best! Kudos to her! 

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers, with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thirteen of these novels hit the number one spot.

In 2017, Macomber’s all-new hardcover publications include If Not for You (March), Any Dream Will Do (August), and Merry and Bright (October). In addition to fiction, Macomber has also published two bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, numerous inspirational and nonfiction works, and two acclaimed children’s books.

Celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas”, Macomber’s annual Christmas books are beloved, and five have been crafted into original Hallmark Channel movies. Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series, which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

Macomber owns "The Grey House Café", which also features a gift shop and a Hallmark Gold Crown store inside. It is located in the Village Square campus, which also serves as Debbie’s corporate headquarters.

She serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove series.


  1. I can see why she's known as the official storyteller of Christmas! She's given this story deep emotion and made those characters resonate with you -- which is clear from your review !

    1. Hi, Verushka!

      Yes, Macomber has indeed "given this story deep emotion and made those characters resonate" with me!! Very well put!! I GREATLY enjoyed this romance treat!! I'm glad you liked my review!

      Thanks for the lovely comment!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)


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