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All Is Bright

[A quick note: I stumbled across this on amazon. I admit, the ice skates totally grabbed my attention. Alas, there’s only a recreational ice skating scene. It’s NOT about ice skating. But the cover is gorgeous and I really enjoyed this holiday read.]

It’s the start of the holidays. Sage returns home to Hope’s Crossing to put the finishing touches on her latest architectural project. She’s designed the perfect wheelchair-accessible home for former baseball star Mason Tucker. The only catch? Mason is a grumpy, demanding client that pushes all her buttons. Mason is determined to dislike Sage, especially after discovering some of her past choices. But instead, her past forces him to confront his own.

This was the perfect holiday read. In fact, I read it in two sittings. It felt like a beefed up Hallmark holiday movie. Hallmark movies have left me a little jaded, because they are so cookie-cutter and you barely get to know the characters. This was like a more in-depth, more serious version. It’s a sweet romance, so there’s nothing beyond kissing. Sorry, spice-lovers!!! But don’t let that deter you. The angsty-romance creates plenty of swoon worthy moments. Plus, the character personalities add plenty of extra depth (but not too much, since it’s a stand alone romance).

What I liked most about this was the prevalence of disabilities represented. Mason uses a wheelchair after a tragic accident kills his wife and unborn baby. The injury damages his lower spine and he’s forced to retire from his famous baseball career. I loved the way the author carefully handled mason’s disability. It wasn’t a box to check. All aspects felt thoughtful. Especially as Mason traverses his character arc, coming to terms with his new life circumstances.

His biggest lesson to be learned: life isn’t over just because things change. I loved this theme.

Mason is a grump. Let’s face it. He’s dissatisfied with the turn life took (understandable!). He’s still grieving two years after the loss of his wife and unborn baby. He’s said goodbye to his passion (baseball) and now he’s just focused on being a good, single dad. His story is TRAGIC! He values his privacy, is mad at the world, and is stubborn to a fault. These are all things he grapples with as soon as Sage sweeps in and forces him to confront his flaws.

This was my first Hope’s Crossing book, and now I want to go and read all the others. There are a lot of characters from past books. All of them are mentioned, and I found myself eager to learn their stories, too. Also, there’s a secondary romance with a third MC that happens in parallel to Mason and Sage. In a way, you get a bonus romance! Two-for-one! What a deal!

Sage’s character was unique and imperfect. She too must grapple with the decisions from her past, but her character arc was more supportive to Mason’s. Sage made her own difficult decisions at a young age, but she didn’t let that dictate her life. She became a successful architect doing good work.

One of the things I really liked about this book is the prevalence of “good people.” So many of the characters were “good” in various ways, whether they were people who heavily donated time and money to charities, or extremely kind, understanding, giving, and loving. It lended an extra “feel good” quality. Overall, this book was so wholesome and warm! It made me feel good, got me into the holiday spirit, and put a smile on my face.



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