Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand (2016)

Winter Storms is Book #3 in the Winter Series/Quinn Family Trilogy.

Books #1 and #2 reviewed here:

Since 2014, Elin Hilderbrand has released one book in her Christmas-themed trilogy each fall and this month the final installment, Winter Storms, arrived on book shelves. As with the two previous books, Winter Storms follows the lives and loves of the extended members of the Quinn family of Nantucket. The first two books of the series left readers with many unresolved crises — failing relationships, burgeoning addictions, missing loved ones — and Hilderbrand arrives with a neat package that ties up all of those loose ends, just in time for Christmas morning.

“In Winter Street, we meet Kelley Quinn, the patriarch of the family and owner of a Nantucket bed and breakfast The Winter Street Inn and the many members of his family, including his first and second wives, his four children, his children-in-law, and grandchildren. The Quinns are typical in their modern-day dysfunction: adult children still living at home, tension between the first and second wives, heartbreak and divorce wounding some of the family members. Despite these obstacles, we find them attempting to celebrate Christmas with as much good cheer as they can muster.” — From my previous review of books one and two.

2016 arrives and the Quinn family’s various members have all set out to dutifully solve all of their problems before the end of the year. The story does not evolve so much as march across the chapters: dutifully checking off boxes in a manner that feels cold: addiction beat = check; love found = check; wedding planned = check.  It is almost as if the author has grown disinterested in her characters lives and is simply trying to hurry up their endings. The fact that the story was written in present tense (were the other two? how did I not remember that?) added to the business-like tone of the book.

Despite the connection I felt to the characters in the first two books, this book felt hollow and rushed to me and I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped I would. In an wooden tone, the author tells events almost as if she were dictating a list (they ate A, B, and C; they wore D, E, and F; and so on.) Even something that should be welcome in a holiday story — the fact that the family seems have to completely and utterly forgive all past discretions and injustices to come together as a perfectly loving blended family — seems to distract from the story’s charm: it is too tidy to be realistic. Adding to my displeasure was the author’s decision to write many, many scenes in the book that were filled with advertisements for Nantucket businesses (including her own books!) the effect was not charming but rather off-putting, since the references seemed like tacky product placements.

If you have invested the time in the first two books, I supposed finishing this one at least brings the story to a close, but I have to say that I wish it had more warmth and heart that it does.