All is Bright
by RaeAnne Thayne
Release Date: September 20, 2022
Reviewed by PJ
Sage McKnight is an ambitious young architect working at her father’s firm who takes on her most challenging client in Mason Tucker. The former pro baseball player is still healing from the physical and emotional scars after a plane crash left him a wheelchair-using single dad, and he’s determined not to let anyone breach his emotional defenses. Sage knows her work on Mason’s new home in Hope’s Crossing is her best work yet, and she won’t let her grumpy client prevent her from showcasing her work personally.
With Sage’s gift for taking broken things and making them better, the matchmaking talent of the quirky locals and a generous sprinkling of Christmas cheer, Mason doesn’t stand a chance against the power of this magical holiday season.
After an eight-year absence, RaeAnne Thayne returns to Hope's Crossing with a feel-good Christmas romance that gives three secondary characters - all grown up now - from books two (Woodrose Mountain) and three (Sweet Laurel Falls) their long-awaited happy endings. Fans of the series will no doubt delight in catching up with familiar citizens of Hope's Crossing while readers new to the series should have no difficulty enjoying this new book on its own.
Thayne combines the comfort and complexity of family, community, grief, healing, and hope - along with the magic of the Christmas season - in this new story that drew me in and refused to let go. I love her characters, how she imbues them with realistic flaws and layers then gives them seemingly insurmountable obstacles to confront and conquer. It doesn't matter if they're ridiculously wealthy athletes or guidance counselors at the local school, they all feel real and relatable.
There are a few emotionally traumatizing issues addressed in All is Bright. Thayne deals with them with candor, sensitivity, and a hopeful, though realistic, attitude. I appreciate that difficulties faced by her characters aren't glossed over but dealt with head on. It gives them substance and even more relatability.
There are a couple areas where I found myself wanting a bit more depth. I would have liked a little more attention given to Sage's current relationship with (younger sibling) Nick. Recent changes in Nick's feelings are hinted but not taken any further. Also, while the secondary romance between Taryn and Charlie is meaningful, readers who have also read their backstory will likely have an even greater appreciation for their HEA.
As for Sage, her personal journey begins in the earlier books but culminates in this new novel. It was immensely satisfying to see how far she's come in her life and the good she's doing in the world. Thayne does a good job of giving readers background information to catch them up with Sage's growth since those early years though for a deeper understanding of all she's been through, I'd suggest picking up the books noted in the opening paragraph of this review. Mason is also on a healing journey, one which Thayne handles with care, but realistically, in light of his injuries and losses.
Sage's romantic journey with Mason, fully encompassed in All is Bright, is one that touched my heart and brought me to tears but also had me smiling. I love a grumpy-sunshine pairing and watching Mason slowly succumb to the lure of Sage's kindness and light was immensely satisfying. I also enjoyed Sage's evolving relationship with her parents, younger siblings, and Mason's daughter, Grace who all have key roles in the story. I turned the final page of the book with a smile and a sigh, happily confident in Mason's and Sage's love for one another and their future happiness together.
If you're looking for a holiday story with real-life issues, complex family dynamics, sweet romance, emotional depth, and happy endings, add RaeAnne Thayne's All is Bright to your holiday reading list.
Have you read any of the Hope's Crossing books?
Do you enjoy added depth in your holiday stories or is fun and fluffy more to your taste?
All is Bright is set in a snowy mountain town. What's your favorite setting for a Christmas story?
One randomly chosen person posting a comment before 11:00 PM, September 26 will receive a print copy of All is Bright (generously provided by HQN books).
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited