The one thing Mary will never be is a mom. Not that she hates kids. But her childhood was so terrible that she’s determined not to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and she’s stuck to that decision her whole life. She even ended things with her handsome, rich fiancé when he wanted kids. Besides, she has plenty of kids in her life: her nephew, Troy, who needs as much love as he can get, and the hundreds she helps every Christmas with her Sub-for-Santa program. The kid thing puts a damper on her dating life. So when Mary bumps into a friendly, good-looking stranger, she politely but firmly says goodbye. Except that Luke doesn’t want to say goodbye and manages to talk her into a date. He seems to be everything Mary could want, so it comes as a terrible shock that he has two young children. These little ones tragically lost their mother already, so no way is she going to step in only to let them down again. But since they’re moving out of her life in a few weeks, maybe it would be okay to enjoy a taste of what-if…and to face the reasons why she can never have children of her own. Is it possible she could overcome her past? I love Mary’s character. She is strong, ambitious, and principled, but also generous and compassionate. She loves her sister enough to risk her own future. She feels deeply but is willing to do what is right despite how she feels. Luke is a perfect match for her, patient and kind and funny, and stubborn enough to wear down her defenses. It’s so much fun to watch their relationship progress. While they have plenty of learning and growing to do, they’re not teenagers struggling with angst and hormones. They’re looking for the rest-of-their-lives love that can raise children together, navigate life’s difficulties together, and bring out the best in each other. Finally, this review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning those two precocious but sweet children. Amy just melts my heart with her wise-beyond-her-years comments and firm love for Mary. Chase is adorable and seeing Luke be a loving dad is pretty much the cutest thing ever. As in any of Bridget Baker’s books, these characters feel so real. And while Mary and Luke may seem like an unlikely couple, given her stance on children, we’re able to see how deeply compatible they are, not just attracted to each other despite their differences as Hallmark movies tend to portray…they seem like they could actually do life together. I’ll be thinking about them for a while, happy that I got a glimpse of their lives.
5 people found this review helpful
Finding strength and faith in yourself is a live story all its own - but adding a sweet romance is double the fun. Five stars: a wonderful Christmas read that I nonetheless enjoyed in May. At first glance, I thought this book was Christian fiction. That's not a genre I prefer, so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the title refers to the MC finding faith in herself, essentially. However, this wasn't the sappy romance novel I was expecting, either. It was more women's fiction slash romance, I'd say. It had substance and depth, three-dimensional characters, and realistic issues, but also a nice romantic arc. I listened to the audio narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya. The performance was wonderful. Her characterization was subtle but excellent, and she maintained consistency and authenticity. I loved her portrayal of Luke, especially. I enjoyed getting to know Mary, insecurities, strengths, and all. Luke was a pure treat, from his dreamy accent, great sense of humor, and good looks to his beautiful heart, flexible attitude, and inner end outer strength. My husband is an electrician, so it was fun reading terms that were familiar to me and ftr those aspects were spot-on, which I appreciated. I got annoyed at some of the supporting characters, especially Trudy and Addie. However, I think that's because they were portrayed so realistically - no flat, stock, trope-filled characters but an actual little sister and bestie with all the good and bad that can contain. Technically speaking, since I listened to the audio it's harder to say than if I'd read the ebook, but it seemed flawlessly written and edited. I heard no issues whatsoever in that regard. The book was a really good read overall, but I did feel the slightest bit rushed at the end, and wished there was more of a wrap, an epilogue, something! There's a lot of build up and then an awfully fast conclusion. That's common with Christmas-set books, but it always annoys me. Give me the New Year's update! However, since it IS book one of a series, perhaps we get some better closure as things progress in book two. I'm looking forward to Trudy's story, and kinda hoping Paisley gets one as well. I would highly recommend this story, and not just for a holiday read.
2 people found this review helpful
Contemporary romance isn't my usual genre. I usually like my romances to be of the historic variety, but after reading Bridget E. Baker's YA trilogy Sins of Our Ancestors, I liked her writing style quite a lot, so I decided to give this one a try. It also helped that it's a Christmas romance that immediately reminded me of a Hallmark Christmas movie when I read the description. Overall I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I think it even tops the YA trilogy. Maybe it's because this is about adults, and I've recently been leaning toward adult reads over YA ones. Whatever the reason I found this a nice cozy Christmas read with characters that were very likeable. I did have a hard time relating to Mary's love for preparing taxes (Ick! Definitely not my thing.) But I loved her devotion to her friends and family and her love of giving to children in need. My one complaint would be that things were tied up just a little bit too neatly for me. There was one thing that Luke was able to do concerning a house that I thought was a little too much, but that's a small thing compared to how entertaining this was. There is going to be a sequel and I will definitely read it. I'm guessing it's going to be more of a companion book, and I'm already betting I know who it will feature. I guess I'll find out.
1 person found this review helpful