In the last year, George’s life has drastically changed. The formerly homeless veteran now has a job he likes, a family in the residents of Darling, VT, and for the first time in years, a home. But while his present is good, he’s still haunted by the past, a past that appears shortly before Christmas when the older sister of his brother-in-arms hunts him down and finds him in Darling, working at the Ladybug Garden Center.

Amy’s looking for closure for her family after her brother’s death in the Middle East, but the serious man she finds working in Vermont doesn’t resemble the soldier she remembers from years before. This man is hardened and yet somehow fragile, too, and in her desire to find out what really happened to her brother, she learns more about George than she ever expected.

With a little Christmas magic and the whole town supporting them, can these two bruised hearts make a future together?

Titles in the Darling, VT series include:  Get Me To The Church On Time – Somebody Like You – Someone To Love – Somebody’s Baby – Deck The Halls –

Title:  Deck The Halls
Series:  Darling, VT novella
Author:  Donna Alward
Genre:  Contemporary Christmas Romance
Published:  October 3, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – Swerve
My Rating:  4 stars

If you’ve read the Darling, VT series then you’ve met George as a secondary character.  (if you haven’t read the series you will still enjoy this story yet I’d highly recommend the series for it is amazing).  Deck The Halls is George’s story, and Amy’s as well.  We’ve known that he has a past he doesn’t speak about much if at all.  We also know he fell on hard times after returning home from war.  And we’ve watched as slowly he’s rebuilt his life with the help of Darling residents, new friends and his own strong will.  Now the past is about to come storming back and it will change so many things for George.

Unless we ourselves have spent a significant time in a war zone, we have no clue as to what our brave veterans actually faced on an hour to hour, minute to minute basis.  We can have empathy but true understanding is, I believe, beyond a civilian.  George returned from war a far different man.  Post traumatic stress, yes without a doubt, and the guilt of being a survivor when his best friend did not.  George is slowly healing, finding a satisfying life with a job, a home and new friends.  Now, shortly before Christmas, the twin sister of his best friend, the man who died beside him has come searching him out in his new home.  Amy wants answers, wants to know her brother’s last moments, what exactly happened and more that George may not be able to answer… like, why.

The romance between George and Amy is not a typical love story.  These are two wounded souls, each a bit differently, each seeking answers that they may never find.  Yet they found each other on that search and perhaps that is the best answer they’re going to need.  I smiled, I got teary-eyed.  I felt sympathy and rejoiced.  I “felt” throughout this story and perhaps that is the best compliment I can give to the author.

Deck The Halls is a powerful, emotional story and I sincerely hope you’ll experience it, even if you haven’t read the rest of the series.  It will touch your heart – and that’s why I read.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

Available for the Kindle