When Matt Cavanaugh returns to his Allegany County hometown, he's not as rough around the edges as he used to be. The former marine is a successful contractor, a man who now believes in the Lord and old-fashioned hard work. But when he buys a bankrupt subdivision, he discovers he's stepped on single mother Callie Burdick's dreams for her family. And when Matt learns about Callie's troubled past, he's determined to rebuild her trust-plus an entire community-in time for Christmas.
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I received this book as part of a gift basket from Seekerville.com. It was the large print edition, and the first thing that caught my attention was the lovely cover image. But what made me jump right in and read is the fact that it is set in upstate NY towns I have known well, such as Houghton, Wellsville, and Olean. Ms Herne's writing is a departure from my typical read of historical romance, and her style is straightforward and yet artful, easy and yet containing more depth than meets the eye. When a stoic Iraqi war veteran and single mom meets the man who has taken over the development her father has lost to foreclosure, she promises her heart to keep a safe distance. The contractor, a young marine with a past that needs the same finishing work as the housing development he seeks to complete, has anything but love on his mind. When Matt Cavanaugh meets Callie Burdick, even his tough marine training hasn't prepared him for the siege she stages on his heart. With themes of redemption, forgiveness, commitment, and determination, this sweet contemporary romance packs a big story in a small package. Besides a lovely glimpse at charming small town life in upstate NY, the Christmas story plays out in modern terms as mother and child find shelter under the covering of an adoptive father, and love conquers sin and debt. Lovely on so many levels, this book makes me want to read more from this talented and insightful author.