Last Noel - Michael Malone This one was either cheap or free from B&N. I had liked another Michael Malone I read recently so I picked this one up, too.

Noni and Kaye grow up together in the small town of Moors, North Carolina. Noni is the "princess" of Heaven's Hill, her family's estate. Kaye is the grandson of Aunt Ma, the housekeeper at Heaven's Hill. Aunt Ma has lived at Heaven's Hill her whole life as her family has done for nearly 200 years when her great-grandmother was brought there as slave. The two children become fast friends from the moment they meet when Kaye climbs into Noni's bedroom on Christmas Eve to see if she wants to go ride that new sled she got on the newly fallen snow. They are both seven years old, though Noni is a couple of hours older, having been born on Christmas Eve while Kaye was born early on Christmas morning.

Over the years the two bond and become best friends despite the difficult race relations of the 60's and 70's. Each chapter finds Noni and Kaye on Christmas Eve, celebrating their respective birthdays and catching us up on what has happened during the intervening years. We see Noni grow into a beautiful woman living a difficult life, while Kaye goes on to become a heart surgeon. They end up on different paths but come together year after year at Heaven's Hill for their birthdays.

Although somewhat predictable, the ending had me in tears. Very touching and a real love story with a unique telling.