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Better Than First: A Contemporary Christmas Romance
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Better Than First: A Contemporary Christmas Romance

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  72 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Get this sweet, Christian, friends-to-more Christmas story featuring a Hallmark style tale you can savor .

When Isla Florez's coach and best friend challenges her to make a twelve item bucket list, she's worried her dreams of gold will slip away.

The more time she spends with Duncan, the more value she sees in everyday life...and love.

Duncan Schmitz went from homelessn
Kindle Edition, 168 pages
Published October 23rd 2018
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4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  72 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Cindy Nipper
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was such a sweet story about truly living your life, instead of getting caught up on a solitary dream. I loved the romance of how these two who have been friends for 10 years could transition to a romantic relationship! Filled with a Christian theme, but not preachy! Kudos Kari!
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Better Than First by Kari Trumbo is the most delightful Christian romance that is set around Christmas but you do not have to wait until the festive season to read it! It's a wonderful all-year round read.
Once again Kari Trumbo has created wonderful, warm and welcoming characters who will lodge in your heart. The lead characters bounce their dialogue off each other, exuding love and friendship, to the delight of the reader.
The backdrop of snow adds to the festive feel. Sometimes things that look
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it

Not everyone is blessed with a perfect or even a fully-functioning body, but there are no rules that say one has to give up trying to have a normal and happy life. Isla, a paraplegic from birth, has had a happy and loving family and manages to cope gracefully, if not always cheerfully, with the casual discrimination of being wheelchair bound in a walking world. In fact, she's become a racer with a goal of entering the Paralympics. But has she become so driven that she is no longer aware
I enjoyed this unique story about two friends who could be so much more to each other. I thought that the author did a very good job of portraying the uncertainty that both Isla and Duncan felt regarding where their relationship was heading. Each one worried that the other didn’t see them as more than a friend. Isla worried that Duncan simply felt obligated to help her, yet also jealous at the thought of him with another woman. It was fun to see how Duncan worked to fulfill Isla’s bucket list, w ...more
Tracy Sylvester
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just love this clean, inspirational romance. I fell in love with both main characters Duncan Schmitz and Isla Flores. Both are strong willed and have things from their past they are trying to work through together. It's a sure fire 5 star read!
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was on the edge of your seat good. I couldn't put it down. The cover art is beautiful and the characters are amazing. Read more from this author.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
It was ok.

So I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm a woman who was born with a birth defect and I've been in a wheelchair my whole life. While I liked Duncan for the most part and liked how he tried to help Isla have new experiences in a lot of ways he also treated her like she was fragile while claiming otherwise. Some of the things that were said versus what was done was inconsistent. Being in a wheelchair myself but not having a lot of interaction with others with disabilities maybe the
Anne Rightler
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Better Than First by Kari Trumbo is a delightful contemporary romance. The setting is Christmas time but the story is great for any time of year. Isla and Duncan have been lifelong friends. He is her wheelchair racing coach now and both are beginning to realize their feelings run deeper than just friendship but... "Duncan was her only friend. She couldn't lose him over attraction". And because of the boundaries they'd set over the years, Duncan hesitates to speak of his love for Isla. Will they ...more
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
What an incredibly sweet Christmas story. The heroine of the story is unusual in that she is paralyzed from waist down. Isla is determined to qualify for the ParaOlympic race and her drive has alienated others and turned her from sweet, loving, compassionate young woman into someone completely different. Duncan is an assistant youth pastor with a rough childhood who has been Isla’s coach and encourager. Duncan’s steadfastness, loyalty, insight, and thoughtfulness are endearing both to Isla and t ...more
Sandra Sorola
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Isla Flores was born without the use of her legs and has spent her entire life in a wheelchair. She is training to race in the Paralympics. She is very focused and serious.
Duncan Schmitz is coaching her. She has known him for 10 years.
Somewhere during the coaching things have changed. Duncan wants to show Isla that she can do more than be a racer. She is capable of so much. She has come so far and lives on her own, works, drives... but he wants to make her feel like she can have it all and enjo
Marie Bourgery
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Isla Flores and Duncan Schmitz have been best friends ever since they were kids. Isla has always wanted to be the best in academics earning valedictorian and in wheel chair racing trying to earn an elusive first place finish. Duncan has been coaching her and cheering her on every step of the way. But winning becomes everything and Isla forgets to enjoy life. She doesn’t even see that Duncan has been in love with her for years. Isla and Duncan both had to overcome hardships. She’s been disabled a ...more
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: clean-romance
Kari Trumbo is one of my favorite authors, and Better Than First only solidified that. The story is a little depressing to start with, but it's just a set-up for a spectacular progression to a wonderful HEA.
I liked the well-developed characters although Isla had some things to work on. With Duncan's help, she did. Duncan did some of the most romantic things to help Isla see him as more than her best friend. Kari Trumbo describes those romantic scenes so well that I can picture them easily, I'm n
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This may be a Christmas romance, but the moral of the story is throughout all time! Duncan and Isla have been best friends for years. Isla is determined to follow her dream, but Duncan poses a different plan. Let's do 12 things you want on your bucket list in the next 12 days. I loved this idea, think out of the box and not place all of your hopes in one place. All through the story, we feel their love for each other, but each is hesitant to say anything. But with a major twist, and some plannin ...more
Jessica Dismukes
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a sweet and enjoyable story. Duncan's love for Isla is constant, but she doesn't see it right away. She has loved him for so long, unsure of his feelings for her. He comes up with a plan to make her see how much he loves her and convince her to share in that love. It works! Kari is an amazing writer and when I read her stories, I can see it play out in my mind like a movie. This one is "hallmark" worthy!
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story was as beautiful as the cover! You don’t see many stories out there about people with disabilities especially romance stories. The characters were wonderful and lovable. I found it to be a very romantic story. God was evident in their everyday life and I loved that the characters reflected that. This book is very well written, I highly recommend it!
Was given a complimentary book by the author. All opinions are my own.
Jan Tomalis
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Better Than First is the first book I have read by Kari Trumbo, and what a wonderful book it was! This story of Isla and Duncan keeps you wondering how it will all work out. Isla is a stubborn, competitive wheelchair racer intent on winning first place, and Duncan is her coach, best friend, and also a youth pastor. Can Isla ever stop looking at the next victory and start focusing on what is right in front of her eyes? You will need to read this to find out! Fantastic book!
Debora Wolff
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story of Isla and Duncan is not your typical love story. She has put her training for wheelchair races before everything else in her life. Duncan has coached her in this but wants her to realize there is more to life than she is focused on. It takes a near tragedy for her to realize what has been right in front of her all along.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story of the struggles of a handicapped woman trying to prove that she is strong. While training to earn a coveted gold medal in the Paralympics and secretly in love with her best friend Duncan, a youth pastor her obsession will put a toll on their friendship and their blossoming love. I received a complimentary audio and this review is voluntary.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Isla is training for qualifying for the Paralympic. Duncan is her coach and her best friend. To let her see that there’s more he challenged her to make a bucket list for the time till Christmas. Can he convince her to live a little? Will the love they secretly feel for each other get real?
I really enjoyed this story, Duncan is such a sweet guy who will do everything for Isla.
Anita Rohn
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing

A pleasant read about misconceptions between friends and finding that what their hearts desire is not necessarily the path they have chosen to follow. A very tender read.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!

So hard to see people you love have to learn things the hard way,
but so gratifying to see them realize "all things God works for the good of those who love Him...."

I received a free copy of this book and voluntarily chose to review it.
Linda Rutland
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Unusual Romance

Isla is in her mid 20's and her dream is to participate in the Paralympics. Since her legs have been paralyzed since infancy this dream to be normal and to win has been driving her for years. Her coach and best friend wants to marry her but he is afraid she doesn't feel that way about him. But he has a plan and so does God. I loved this story and was rooting for them both.
Bernadette Cinkoske
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a sweet, Christian romance - but not preachy. Kari Trumbo takes us on a journey of two people who have been friends for ten years. We get to see Isla remember there is more to life than single-minded focus on one goal. Come enjoy the journey of this very original friends to lovers romance.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sweet Romance

This is a sweet and refreshing romance with amazing characters that will steal your heart and warm your soul as you follow them own their journey to true love.
Pam Evans
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story about Isla, a strong willed para-olympic athlete, and Duncan, her friend and coach for 10 years. Her drive to achieve first place actually is annoying after a while. I wasn’t sure Duncan would get through to her or not. He is an amazing person who never gives up on convincing Isla there is more to life than competition. I highly recommend this book! ( I received an ARC of the book, but leave my honest review.)
Colin Bell
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Irene S
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
'Better than First' is a sweet romance about discovering what's really important in life. For Isla, winning second in a wheelchair race still makes her a loser. Isla is only focused on qualifying for the Paralympics. Duncan, her best friend and coach, has been trying to get her attention. Duncan challenges her to come up with a bucket list so that she can see there is more to life. I received a free copy of this book from the author. This is my honest and voluntarily given review. I really enjoy ...more
Sheila Hutchinson
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of book, leaving my honest review. A good short read, everyone has battles within, some hide them better, some chose to share hoping to help someone else. Following our hearts is 1 thing, but life is so much better when we follow the spirit we feel in our hearts and our minds. I think Duncan did this very well and I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the story. Some of the other characters we meet in the story Mateo and Sofia, some the kindest, most giving people who love D ...more
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Audio book review
This story is one that will open your heart and mind to a friends to something more story . Even though it’s a Xmas theme you can listen to it year round . Kari always has stories that steals your heart with true love that is clean .

Hero is Duncan . Heroine is Isla.

Both Duncan and Isla have been friends for years , they love joking , with a witty banter . They both are stubborn and blind to each other .
Isla lives in a wheelchair and she thinks that she doesn’t deserve love .
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Kari Trumbo is a writer of Christian Historical Romance and a stay-at-home mom to four vibrant children. She does freelance developmental editing and blogging. When she isn't writing or editing, she homeschools her children and pretends to keep up with them. Kari loves reading, listening to contemporary Christian music, singing when no one is listening, and curling up with a fluffy blanket when wi ...more