Ry Lassiter, a prosperous lawyer from Philadelphia, hurries back to Texas after he receives a desperate telegram from Belle, his childhood friend. But before he can reach her, two thugs accost and shoot him. Josie Wylie, a livery stable owner he's briefly met and helped, realizes the thugs are following Ry and mean to harm him. She charges after them, and her quick thinking saves his life. When a thug gets the upper hand, Ry rescues Josie before he passes out from his injuries.
Josie brings Ry to her family's boarding house, where everyone treats him like a hero, much to his dismay. His convalescence is slow, and as Josie nurses him, their mutual attraction grows. But she's locked into a position as her family's main breadwinner, and her heart's cry is to see the world as an independent, single woman. As soon as her family members can fend for themselves, dutiful Josie will be out of there.
Since neither of the two places Ry's lived in--a Texas ranch with his siblings and a posh dwelling with his grandfather in Philadelphia--gives him a sense of belonging, he yearns for a place he can call home. Belle dies before Ry is well enough to travel, and he finds himself a guardian to Viola, Belle's young daughter. Now he must find a home for Viola too, and he wants Josie to be a part of it. But she's more determined than ever to fulfill her dream, which doesn't include marriage or getting tied down to the only place Ry wants to live.
Ry and Josie both possess a strong will and deep sense of honor and duty, and their differences often cause clashes that push them in opposite directions. Yet these conflicts force them to examine themselves and deal with issues that they had either ignored before they met or didn't realize existed. When seriously seeking the Lord becomes their only recourse, they must choose between His will and what they desire above all else.
I enjoyed The Christmas Journey very much. Loved Ry's and Josie's strengths and vulnerabilities, though I wanted her to give up her silly desire for independence and accept the inevitable (What can I say? I'm a sucker for those wonderful, sensitive heroes). As a writer, my editing brain often tries to pop up and spoil the story for me, but Winnie Griggs kept me so engrossed, I forgot about everything but the characters and their efforts to resolve their struggles. I highly recommend this book to all romance lovers.