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Calm & Bright: A clean and sweet Christian romance in Idaho at Christmas (Huckleberry Lake Book 1) Kindle Edition
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My synopsis: All Maddie Calder wants for Christmas is for her ex-husband, Brad, to spend quality time with their son, Joshua, over the Christmas holiday. As a single parent who is also caring for an ailing grandparent, Maddie has her hands full and is thankful for the love of her neighbors and community at Huckleberry Lake. Brad, raised in a dis-functional family, has never known what family and community are all about. His job has always been to climb the corporate ladder and make more money to provide for his son and ex-wife. He loves Maddie, but doesn't understand why Maddie left him, or why 'gifts' can't make their relationship better. A couple days at Huckleberry Lake has Brad seeing his marriage and family in a whole new light. However, as the pressure of work pulls him away, Brad will have to decide what is truly in his life, and what he'll sacrifice to have it.
So this novella is what I would call "cozy romance." However, I enjoyed watching Maddie and Brad rediscover the love they had for one another. They were young when they married, but are now mature enough to understand that falling in love and making a marriage work are two different things. As they begin to discover each others strengths and weaknesses they discover that neither had the correct expectation of marriage and maybe, just maybe, God has given the example that is truly worth fighting for. One of the things I always like about Autumn's books is that the stories move toward a point where God is the central focus, and His word reigns supreme whether the characters choose to follow or not.
Finally, at the end of the book is a list of scripture that is central to this story, as well as a tasty recipe for Huckleberry Muffins by The Rowdy Baker. Now all I need to do is figure out where to buy huckleberries. Unfortunately they don't grow in my neck of the woods!
I loved Brad and Maddie's reconciliation story. Their lack of communication early in their marriage was the source of many a problem. Later on, as they turn to God for answers, their willingness to give up what they wanted for their love of the other and their son Jacob, was heartwarming. The ending was perfect, making for a wonderful Christmas read, I highly recommend it for the warm fuzzy feeling it gives!
This is my first Autumn Macarthur book, but I'm thrilled to see there will be more books in the Huckleberry Lake series. I can't wait to see what comes next in this charming idyllic small town. Hopefully it will include an update on the Hughes family. In the meantime, I'll be backtracking her other stories.
Brad only worked long hours so that he could provide a nice life for his family. Why can't Maddie understand that? His father has convinced Brad that making lots of money, moving up the corporate ladder, is what he needs to do to be successful in life.
But, why can't he have both, a successful career and his family, too?
I really enjoyed this story. I thought it was highly realistic. It's a nice, sweet Christmas story.
~The Rebecca Review
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