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A Lowcountry Christmas (Lowcountry Summer #5)

By:Mary Alice Monroe

A Lowcountry Christmas (Lowcountry Summer #5)
Author: Mary Alice Monroe


Thank you first to my readers. You have been so gracious and kind to me over the years, I want to express how much I appreciate your letters, comments, gifts, your word-of-mouth, and for coming to meet me when I'm on book tour. I read every letter and they encourage me while writing. I hope you will enjoy this gift of a book, written with much love for you for the holidays.

Much love and gratitude to all the booksellers who invite me to their wonderful stores and introduce or recommend my books to new readers.

I am always grateful for the brilliant insights and encouragement offered by my editor and friend, Lauren McKenna-but for this book especially we both worked so hard and so close because we loved this story so much. Also many thanks (and congrats!) to Elana Cohen, to Marla Daniels, and Steve Boldt for all your careful edits and the quick turnaround. And to my glorious publishers, Louise Burke, Jennifer Bergstrom, and Jennifer Long, for your continued gracious and wholehearted support. I have the best team at Gallery and I appreciate all the magic you do every day. Thank you Liz Psaltis, Kristin Dwyer, Jean Anne Rose, Diana Velasquez, and Mackenzie Hickey. Love to Gallery Books!

At Trident Media Group I'm sending heartfelt thanks and praise to my agents, Kimberly Whalen and Robert Gottlieb. Thank you for all you've done these past years. And special thanks to Phoebe Cramer.

Heartfelt gratitude, love, and holiday best wishes to my stellar home team, who work with such enthusiasm and love-my treasured assistant, Angela May; the dynamic duo at Magic Time Literary Group, Kathie Bennett and Susan Zurenda; Meghan Walker at Tandem Literary Group; and Steve Bennett and the team at Authorbytes. Thank you for all you do.

To my L.F. copyeditors, Leah Greenberg and Judy Boehm-we'll always have Maine!

As always, I couldn't write my books without the invaluable help from experts in the fields I am researching. First, continued thanks to the fabulous team at the Dolphin Research Center, Florida. Working with the DRC's Project Odyssey for Wounded Warriors (which I wrote about in The Summer Wind), I became acquainted with servicemen and their service dogs. Since then I've talked to many organizations across the United States that provide trained service dogs to returning veterans suffering from PTSD and/or traumatic brain injury. I am in awe of the life-changing work they do. I was particularly intrigued by the groups that rescued dogs from shelters to train, thus demonstrating the great dogs that await adoption. This win-win scenario deserves our continued gratitude and support. I was especially inspired by Clarissa Black and the amazing group she founded, Pets for Vets, a national organization. With her permission, I used her name as a character. All mistakes are my own! Heartfelt thanks to Debra Manos, whose vast experience training dogs helped me appreciate the incredible bond of trust between dog and human.

Thanks to Luis Carlos Montalván, author of Until Tuesday and the children's books Tuesday Takes Me There and Tuesday Tucks Me In. His insights into the struggles of PTSD and his connection with his service dog-and deep, abiding love-were brilliant and inspired me throughout the writing of my novel. To Luis, my son Zachary Kruesi, and to all the men and women who served and currently serve our country, a humble thank-you for your service.

A special nod to Stuart McDaniel, who supported the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw, South Carolina (the site of my novel Skyward) with his bid for me to create a character named after his grandson Miller McDaniel. The character of the young boy came to life in my mind with great affection and I hope the real Miller likes his namesake!

I have friends who are always a text, phone call, or hug away. You know who you are. I can't say thank you enough or tell you too often how much I appreciate your constant support while I'm under deadline. I love you all!

As with all my books, I end by expressing my deepest love, appreciation, and thanks to my family, who are my rock during my long hours of writing. First and foremost to my husband, Markus Kruesi, who pulled extra duty this year with driving me on book tour and for preparing endless meals, guarding my privacy as I wrote, and reminding me that I'm loved. To Gretta Kruesi and Jordan Konow, who covered animal duty without complaint whenever I had to leave town; to Zack Kruesi for answering all my questions concerning the Marine Corps; and to Caitlin and Wesley Kruesi for your constant love. To Jack Dwyer for advising me on dialogue and all things pertaining to my young boy character, and to Claire, John, Teddy, and Delancey Dwyer for your ever-present support, love, and encouragement. You are "home" to me. I am the luckiest wife and mother in the world.

Peace and love to all!

Author's Note

The character Taylor McClellan is familiar to those who read the Lowcountry Summer Trilogy and A Lowcountry Wedding. Taylor was a Wounded Warrior in the novels. His character is inspired by a serviceman I met while working with the Wounded Warrior Project Odyssey at the Dolphin Research Center. He took the time to share with me why his service dog meant so much to him and stayed by his side. As he spoke, his hand was on his dog's head and neck, stroking and petting as a touchstone. I could readily see the strong connection between them and was inspired.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sometimes known as shell shock or combat stress, occurs after the experience of severe trauma or a life-threatening event. It's normal for the mind and body to be in shock after such an event, but this normal response becomes PTSD when the nervous system gets "stuck."

Veteran suicide rates have reached tw