Why did I pick this one up? The shorter answer would be why I wouldn’t pick it up and I can’t think of one reason not to. A fast becoming favorite author, holiday setting, and a tender-hearted love story between two people who find healing in each other.
The story is loosely connected to other stories by the author, but is indeed a standalone.
It opens with former Navy Aviator, Maggie Benson, coming home. Maggie was shot down in the war and had a long period of recovery from burns and then the loss of her lower leg due to infection. She wanted to give up, but is now shakily trying to put some semblance of her life together by going home and finally letting her family’s strength support her. Going home is scary and hard after her dreams of being a pilot are gone, but there is someone who may give her hope of a new dream if she can let go of her disappointments and fears of inadequacy to accept the gift she wishes for.
Former NBA player and now local high school coach and teacher, Will Fitzpatrick, knows a thing or two about having to pick up the pieces of a life shattered by injury and loss. He is drawn to Maggie’s beauty and spirit. He can see beyond the scars and the prosthetics, but can he convince Maggie to believe that he does? Will knows what he wants for Christmas.
The story moves along quickly as novellas do, but it was full of heartwarming small town goodness and a hopeful romance set against the holidays on Long Island. It was a perfect holiday read and a great feel-good story. The author did a wonderful job of showing what it is like for a person recovering from horrific injuries and living with PTSD to heal and re-integrate into civilian life. I had such admiration for Maggie- and all the real life folks who have similar tough personal battles still to fight. Will is a great guy. He’s middle aged and after two failed attempts with women who couldn’t see the treasure he was, he is still hopeful of finding love, marriage, and a family. It was refreshing to read about a hero who wasn’t hung-up on commitments. This is good because Maggie is so newly dealing with her own issues that she has enough hang-ups for both of them.
Sweet, tender, and mildly passionate holiday contemporary romance that I would recommend for a great heart-warming holiday read.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #389 CR
The story is plum full of holiday activities and traditions, but one of them stood out for me. I’m not sure what your take is on volunteering and giving back to your community or specific areas outside your community. I know many of our readers who are generous with their time and their money and will jump in when they see someone struggling with a word of encouragement or more. What I also know is that most do it quietly and for the pleasure of giving and paying it forward.
In the story, Will spends each Sunday morning coaching a track team of kids with disabilities particularly, amputees. He respects these kids for their bravery and draws encouragement from them in turn.
It made me remember all the times my folks did stuff for people and taught us kids to do the same. During the holidays, we would find a Senior Center (or back in the day we called it the Old Folks’ home) and also go out to the Veteran’s Home where we spent each weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas visiting with the residents, taking them cards and cookies (which we started making earlier in November). I reluctantly played the piano and my brother, my foster sisters, and I sang for them. I hated playing in front of people and I most definitely was giving a good vibrato from fear of singing for them, but the joy in those folks who sang along with us took all the selfish fears away.
There were other things that at the time I never thought of as giving because we just did it and it was part of the fun and family togetherness. My parents were both military at different times in their lives and remembered times of being away from family and home during the holidays. So each year, we had over many of the single GI guys and gals from my mom’s command who couldn’t get home over for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. They sometimes were able to bring something from the BX (base store), but mostly my mom told them just to come, eat, relax, and be a part of our family. There were large bodies everywhere and it was a cacophony of sound around the TV for the football when the GIs would pack it in and take sides or over the board games set up after dinner. My dad enjoyed the fun of matchstick poker off in the side room with those who wanted to play. And again, my sibs and I got to perform, but my mom would join on the accordion and my dad on the harmonica to give the GIs a chance to sing carols with us.
I am still influenced by these early examples. I live across the country and have had to establish my own traditions of going to the Senior Center and to the Rescue Mission downtown with our winter clothes drive stuff. I am rustier than ever on the piano, but I dust off the Christmas songs and give it a go (without my sibs though now with a new younger generation) for folks who don’t care if I fudge half the notes or might not have gotten the cookies as nice as dear mom used to do.
This is a picture of the Christmas caroling book we used to take with us for our singalongs and I still have it for when we go caroling now.
So what about you, folks? Do you have any family traditions of giving back? Any special charities you remember this time of the year?
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