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Ratings and Reviews (8 8 star ratings
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4.6 out of 5
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    Donna Alward’s Deck the Halls

    The Magic of Christmas combines with the legend of the Kissing Bridge in Darling, VT. George Reilly was a homeless veteran until given a job and found an apartment. He is finding his way back from post traumatic stress syndrome after his fighting in the war. One day, he is thrown for a loop when the sister of his best friend who was killed in an ambush right before George’s eyes, appears at the garden center. She wants closure for her brother’s death. George is not ready to open up about the war. Will he run and disappear back to street living to avoid her questions? Will she continue to pursue her answers? Will they be able to start on new footing? A well written story with very well developed, well defined and realistic characters with Christmas time magic involved. A highly recommended Read. I volunteered to read a Deck the Halls. Thanks to the publisher via Net Gallery for the opportunity. My opinion is my own.
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    Contemporary Holiday Romance

    Deck the Halls by Donna Alward Darling Vt # Second chances are sometimes given in life…to fall in love, to be productive, to be happy and to find one’s way when it is lost. This is the story of a man who went to war, came home damaged, lost his way then began to find it again in Darling, Vermont. When a woman from his past suddenly appears his forward momentum may be derailed or she might end up helping him as he moves forward. This was a short story in keeping with the holiday season. We see a bit more of George Reilly, the homeless veteran that Laurel gave a job, and how he is doing a few months on. We see a few of the couples that had their stories told earlier and we see how George may find a future with Amy Merck, the twin sister of one of his army buddies that did not make it home. It does not give a definitive answer to the relationship between George and Amy but…they did kiss very near that bridge that has magical powers so perhaps we will see them together in future books of the series. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press – Swerve for the ARC – this is my honest review.
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    Loved it

    'Deck the Halls' by Donna Alward is the story of George and Amy. George is just getting back on his feet after being a homeless Vet. George now has a job a place to live and his trying to work toward a future in Darling, Vermont. Amy is looking for answers and closure in her brothers death. George was a good friend to her brother and just wants answers to her questions. This starts them both on an emotional journey and love. "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
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    A heart-felt, romantic, holiday story.

    Full review appeared on Reader's Edyn on 10/21/17 Amy Merck has been searching – searching for closure regarding her brother’s death; searching for a way to cope with the blows life hands out; searching for a way to lessen her parent’s grief; searching for George Reilly. Having finally found George, she realizes she isn’t going to just get the answers she is looking for without building some trust – a difficult feat given the circumstances George has dealt with over the past few years. She never imagined the guilt of her brother’s death had weighed so heavily on him – or that he blames himself. Pair that with likely PTSD and a reluctance to muddle through the past, Amy might not ever be able to find the closure she desperately seeks. But an unexpected turn of events has Amy wondering if there could ever be a future for the two of them. They had liked one another once upon a time, but trying to get that back might be futile. George Reilly has not had an easy life since returning from active duty. He ended up homeless after drinking his money away and has had to rally back – literally picking himself up from the streets. Help from some new friends in a new town has brought about a change in him and he started wanting to live again – at least as much as one can live when carrying around the guilt of responsibility for his best friend’s death. He had promised Amy and her family that he would keep Ian safe, but failed them all. Amy’s unexpected arrival threatens the tight rein George keeps on his simple existence. The past – revelations she wants him to confide in her – could be a point he cannot come back from. No one ever got comfort from regurgitating the past and he’s going to try like hell not to go there. But Amy has also kindled something within him that he had thought long gone. Maybe, instead of his demise, she could be his salvation. I really enjoyed my time spent with this book! Deck the Halls dealt with a bit more serious topics than I am used to, but also topics that are very current and real in these times. While addressing serious issues, the author was able to successfully craft a balance between the negative and positive so that a dark shadow was not cast over the entire story. I felt like Amy and George were people I would know, or could easily meet one day. Their characters were very real and raw. Also enjoyed were the secondary characters who, from what I gather, have stories of their own in the quaint little town of Darling, Vermont. While not the kind of HEA I am accustomed to, the story remained a sweet romantic novel. Ms Alward was careful to remain true to the characters and allow them time to get to know one another even in the midst of their growing attraction. A few tame romantic scenes are all you will have to contend with between these pages – and I thank Ms. Alward for that. I believed that this was a positive and forward-moving decision that lent credibility to these characters and their truths. Set around the Christmas season, this story of second chances; belief in human kindness; and the determination to rise about life’s punches is sure to please any reader who picks this story up. Get in to your season feel goods, or read it any time of year. Either way, you will not be disappointed with this heart-felt, romantic, holiday gift. Kindle version provided by NetGalley/St Martins Press in exchange for an honest review.
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    Heart Warming and Feel Good

    A charming story by Donna Alward, Deck the Halls, a Christmas novella in her Darling, VT series, is a retake on the classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”. George Riley drastically changed his life over the last year going from being a homeless vet with PTSD, overlooked by people passing by to having a job, a truck, an apartment and contact with the VA. Amy Merck had been searching for George, trying to find closure to the death of her twin brother in the Middle East. When she finds him in Vermont he didn’t resemble the soldier she remembered being friends with her brother. Amy and George spend time together in a town filled with some Christmas magic along with lots of support for them, hoping that these two bruised and lost people can create a future together. I loved reading this story, despite crying for these two lonely people. Ms. Alward is an excellent storyteller, keeping me interested in this story so that I had trouble putting it down. I highly recommend this outstanding book to other readers. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
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