In the story, Daniel's son Bobber needs extensive orthopedic surgery and months of intensive physical therapy to recover from being struck down by an automobile. Rodney Freeman, the young black man who Daniel took into his home and raised as another son, has become a famous writer and offers to fly Daniel and Bobber to San Francisco and to pay for the surgery. Once in San Francisco, Daniel meets and falls for Briony Adair, a physical rehabilitation specialist who will be working toward Bobber's recovery. When therapy progresses slowly, Bobber invites Briony to come home to Canaan to spend Christmas with the Burtons and continue his treatment. Briony is a natural at caring for a thriving family, but Sarah, Daniel's daughter distances herself not wanting to dishonor her late mother's memory, and a disastrous Christmas visit drives Daniel and Briony apart. In the soul searching that follows, Daniel finds the strength to open his heart again and invite love back into his life.
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