Holiday gifts don't always come in expected packages…especially in the town of Hope's Crossing.
No one has ever felt sorry for Genevieve Beaumont. After all, she has everything money can buy. That is, until she discovers her fiancé has been two-timing her and she's left with two choices: marry the philanderer to please her controlling father or be disinherited and find a means to support herself.
Genevieve's salvation appears in the most unlikely of prospects: Dylan Caine, a sexy, wounded war vet whose life is as messy as hers. Dylan's struggling to adjust after his time in Afghanistan, and the last thing he needs is a spoiled socialite learning about the real world for the first time. True, she may have unexpected depths and beauty to match. But he knows he could never be the man she needs…and she knows he could never be the man she thinks she wants. So why are they each hoping that a Christmas miracle will prove them both wrong?
Wonderful book. I loved the beauty and the beast theme. Gen has been the girl that everyone loves to hate. While engaged to her fiance she was the epitome of a bridezilla. When she caught him cheating she dumped him and fled the country to recover. Now she's back, with her father cutting her off financially until she can get her act together. Dylan is back home in Hope's Crossing after losing a hand and an eye in Afghanistan. All he wants is to be left alone. When the two of them end up having to do some community service together, sparks start to fly.
From the moment Gen and Dylan met in the bar there was a connection between them that couldn't be denied. Gen is there trying to forget that she's stuck in town until she can fix up her grandmother's house and sell it. Dylan is there, waiting for his brother, because his family won't let him hide out in his cabin by himself. Both are getting annoyed by the Christmas carols being played on the jukebox, but Gen loses it first and starts a brawl with another patron over it. Dylan steps in to try to protect her and both end up arrested and sentenced to community service.
The place of their service is A Warrior's Hope, the local center for wounded veterans. Dylan isn't happy about it because it reminds him of everything he's lost. Not just the physical losses but the emotional ones also. In the same blast that injured him he lost five friends and he blames himself. All of these things make him feel that he is a "washed up army ranger with missing parts" and not someone worth being around. But he mans up and puts in the time. As he and Gen work together at their assigned tasks he finds that she is not the spoiled brat that everyone thinks she is. I loved the way that he sees the goodness in her that others take much longer to see. He also discovers that being around her is changing him. Just listening to her talk relieves some of the mental stress he is under and soon he is laughing and smiling more. I loved seeing him cave in to her demands when they were decorating the trees at the cabins. He doesn't quite understand what is happening to him and at times it really scares him. The occasional thought he has of getting closer to her tends to send him running in the opposite direction. His cynicism crops up now and then when her optimism gets to be too much for him. I loved the ending when his fears get shown up by her courage and he decides it's time to embrace life again.
Gen's time at A Warrior's Hope shows her that she can change from the spoiled brat she used to be into someone she can be proud of. She started by standing up to her father and not letting him get her off from her sentence. She was also determined to do the best she could at renovating her grandmother's house. I really enjoyed her enthusiasm for the project and the way that it spilled over into her interactions with Dylan. She really wants to change but it's really hard when the people around you can only see the old you and not the person you're trying to be. I loved the fact that Dylan was one who could see that the apparently snobby person on the outside was hiding the woman who was shy and not very sure of herself. The changes in her started to become really apparent when they were working at A Warrior's Hope. Her enthusiasm and talent for decorating the Christmas trees surprised everyone and started them looking at her differently. I loved seeing her start to connect with people and let them see who she really is. The party she went to with Charlotte started out so well, until she ran into one person who was a real nasty piece of work. It set her progress back a little until Dylan was able to show her that she couldn't let one person's opinion affect her that badly. I really liked the way that she saw Dylan for who he was, not the damaged surface. She realized that she was falling for him and got frustrated with his hot and cold attitude. I also loved seeing how her optimism and softhearted personality caused her to try to help one of the wounded vets who was staying at the center. In spite of Dylan's cynical attitude about it she was sure that she was doing the right thing. Her way of calling the vet, and by extension Dylan, on his stupidity on throwing away love was fantastic and incredibly moving. I loved the whole wedding planning scene and the way that she was embraced by the people who used to look down on her. It gave her the final boost of confidence that she needed to then go after Dylan and tell him how she felt.
The romance between Dylan and Gen was a slow build up as they had to deal with their own issues before they could truly open themselves up to the other one. Each was much better at seeing the good in the other person. I loved the attraction that was so evident between them but also that it didn't take over the entire story.
Once again I loved the people of Hope's Crossing. They all have their flaws and issues but they live their lives as best they can. Most are cautious about trusting Gen at first but are willing to be convinced. Dylan's family love him, but are also very good at getting up in his business. I loved seeing the way they came together to help Gen plan the wedding and encourage her to stay around.