This little mini review features the end of a series from author Denise Hunter: Just A Kiss (Summer Harbor #3). Over several books I’ve personally read, Denise has proven to deliver a realistic story and complex character development. This latest release further establishes her as a go-to author in the contemporary romance genre.
Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.
Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.
But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.
Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.
As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?
We finally, FINALLY get Paige and Riley’s story in another fantastic contemporary romance and drama from Denise! She knows how to combine plenty of romantic tension against a backdrop of family. Also, real issues like doubt, self-worth, and grace are explored through a sweet story of friendship-turned-true-love. Readers who have enjoyed the previous two books in the series, Falling Like Snowflakes and The Goodbye Bride, have anticipated this pairing for a while. It was good to finally see it on the page, AND to experience the story each of their perspectives. For Paige, that meant a sweet story of realizing her best friend is also the love of her life. And for Riley, realizing his hoped-for dream of Paige returning his long-secreted romantic feelings.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Nelson/Zondervan Fiction Guild for a complimentary review copy. This is my honest review.