With shades of It’s a Wonderful Life, one man must face his past to find his future this Christmas.
In the last year, George’s life has drastically changed. The formerly homeless veteran now has a job he likes, a family in the residents of Darling, VT, and for the first time in years, a home. But while his present is good, he’s still haunted by the past, a past that appears shortly before Christmas when the older sister of his brother-in-arms hunts him down and finds him in Darling, working at the Ladybug Garden Center.
Amy’s looking for closure for her family after her brother’s death in the Middle East, but the serious man she finds working in Vermont doesn’t resemble the soldier she remembers from years before. This man is hardened and yet somehow fragile, too, and in her desire to find out what really happened to her brother, she learns more about George than she ever expected.
With a little Christmas magic and the whole town supporting them, can these two bruised hearts make a future together?
4 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
I have never read any books by Ms. Alward before, and thus none in this series. But I had no problems following along with everything. I will say that if you are a fan of the series, I think you’ll love this book too as many of the other couples appear in it (and it sounds like George made appearances in many of those books as well).
This was a solid Christmas romance, with a great redemption plot. It touches on many serious subjects, from what it’s like for returning veterans, survivor’s guilt, homelessness, and the struggle to climb out of being homeless. I especially enjoyed that last bit, as I think we forget that there’s so much to overcome mentally and emotionally. We really got to see how being homeless affected George’s self-esteem and his sense of self-worth.
George was a bit of an oddball hero for me. We meet him when he’s so very damaged, and he came across quite meek a lot of the time. Sometimes I just had a hard time getting a read on his personality outside of his damage, if that makes sense.
Amy, on the other hand, was very straightforward! I loved how strong she was in so many things, how she wouldn’t give up on George no matter how many roadblocks he tried to put between them. And I liked that when they would have disagreements, she never held onto a grudge, and she was quick to try to see things from his perspective and adjust her expectations. But at the same time, she wasn’t afraid to push him a bit. I also appreciated that she had her own bit of damage, but that she was a bit further along the healing path…not healed, but with more mental tools I guess.
All in all this was a sweet love story, with a very satisfying ending. I was a bit bummed that there wasn’t more to the “It’s a Wonderful Life” bit that is mentioned in the blurb, but there was enough else in the story to make up for it.