Todd McCray is now a grown man, but he still lives near his parents in a cabin on their property. They continue to worry about their developmentally delayed son but try to allow him to live as independent a life as possible. Todd has been working at the local animal shelter as the assistant manager for several years, so when reduced revenue and government cutbacks lead to news of the shelter being closed by the end of the year, Todd is devastated. Not only is he uncertain of what to do next in life, he's also very concerned about placing the more than three dozen animals the shelter has been housing into new homes in time for the holidays. At the same time, Todd's deep friendship with Laura, a young woman with rheumatoid arthritis whom he met while training her dog to be a service dog to her, takes a romantic turn. Ever the idealist, Todd is determined to find homes for all the animals, while searching for a new job and figuring out just what Laura means to him.
A Christmas Home is another heartwarming holiday read from Greg Kincaid in his untitled series about the McCray family. This one takes place several years after the end of A Dog Named Christmas. Todd McCray is now a young man in his early twenties. He lives on his own in a cabin on his parent's property, far enough away to be mostly independent, but still close enough for his parents to keep watch on their developmentally disabled son. Todd loves his job as Assistant Manager at the local animal shelter, but reduced revenues and governmental budgetary cutbacks have led to the shelter being shut down by the end of the year. Todd finds himself in the precarious position of not only dealing with the loss of his job, but also once again, needing to help find homes for all the dogs and cats in the shelter before the holidays.
Todd is a wonderful young man who is kind and caring toward everyone, both humans and animals alike. He may be a little mentally slow in some ways, but he has an amazing natural talent for working with the animals at the shelter, especially the dogs. He's incredibly patient with training the dogs and positively loves his work. Todd also has an idealistic streak, so when the news comes down that the shelter is closing, he's determined to find homes for all the animals and does a pretty impressive job of it. At the same time, he grows beyond his position as Assistant Shelter Manager and proves himself in other ways by taking control of his life and moving forward, showing he has the ability for independent decision-making when life hands him a lemon.
Todd also gets a light romance with Laura, a young woman with rheumatoid arthritis with whom he has been friends for quite a while. He was at the shelter when she brought in a stray dog she had accidentally hit with her car. Todd cared for the dog until she recovered from her injuries and then trained her to be a service dog to help Laura both at home and in her job as a nurse. These two share a sweet, slowly blossoming love that I enjoyed reading. Laura is very gentle and kindhearted to see past Todd's disability to the wonderful man he is. She appreciates his talents not just because he helped her and her dog, Gracie, but because she truly believes in him and his abilities.
Todd's parents, George and Mary Ann, are still a strong influence in his life, but they must come to terms with their "baby," whom they've always given special attention to, finally becoming a man with a mind and a life of his own. Of course, their faithful and now aged dog, Christmas, is still a part of the story too. Both George and Todd have come to rely on Christmas for comfort and solace. They share "custody," with Christmas going back and forth between their houses at will.
I love both holiday stories and animal stories, so having the two combined into one, made A Christmas Home a very enjoyable read for me. The only reason I knocked off a half star was because it was a tad slow paced early on, but it definitely picked up as the story progressed. Otherwise, A Christmas Home was a sweet, holiday story that warmed me through and through, like curling up with a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter's day. Since it has no objectionable content, it is a book that could even be enjoyed by the whole family as a Christmas tradition. It will definitely be going on my keeper shelf to be read again and again during holiday seasons to come. I have no idea if Greg Kincaid has any more stories planned for the McCray family. It certainly seemed like there could be more to tell, and if he does, I'll be eagerly picking up any future books he writes.
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