Mini Review: “Just A Kiss” by Denise Hunter

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.

About the Book


Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.

just-a-kissWatching 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?

Review

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 Bridehave 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.

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Review: “The Goodbye Bride” by Denise Hunter

Review: “The Goodbye Bride” by Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter is a go-to author for a compelling contemporary romance. Her most recent release, The Goodbye Bride (second in her Summer Harbor series), delivers just as expected with likable characters, a refreshing setting, and a believable romance.

About the Book

She only remembers loving him. But he can’t forget the way she left.


Following a concussion, Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

It’s taken Zac months to move on after Lucy left him with no explanation. He’s thrown himself into his family’s farm and his restaurant business in Summer Harbor. Now Lucy’s back, vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. She needs his help putting the pieces together, but letting her back into his life is a risk—and the stakes are high. If he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life. But if her memory returns he’ll lose her all over again.

ReviewThe Goodbye BrideFrom the start, the perspective of Lucy proves to be quite interesting because of her memory gap. It’s as though the reader is just as eager to discover her motivations and recent history as she is. This contrasts with Zac and his initial emotional distance, though he always remains patient and considerate, even when his feelings are in jeopardy.

Seeing glimpses of Beau and Eden after book 1, Falling Like Snowflakes, was great. I’m glad their relationship is still close and progressing. *Random sidebar: I love it when authors include little updates on characters from a past story. Especially when we see them as actively as they are in this book. !!!!!*

Another story element which worked well were the flashbacks sprinkled in from both Lucy and Zac’s perspective. They showed the start of their romance in a timely way, along with how deeply they really cared for each other. And, these few flashbacks helped establish the foundation of their personalities.

My favorite part of this story was probably how it illustrated the hope of second chances. And, how a second chance for someone might be hidden on the most unexpected path. I appreciate the way Denise clearly depicted God as loving and orchestrating the lives of these characters. He took them on a path which made them grow and learn selflessness through their mistakes by faithfully bringing them through a seemingly less than ideal circumstance.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild for a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Review: Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter

Confession: Christmas is my favorite holiday. We get to celebrate the gift of Jesus’ birth, spend extra time with family, and act like a kid when it comes to Christmas trees, stockings, and hot chocolate. I know it’s not quite fall yet, but thinking about Christmas coming in a few months already has me excited.

With that in mind, it was a delight for me to read a new book set during the Christmas season, even if the calendar says it’s a little early. Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter is a sweet contemporary romance with a little bit of suspense. It can definitely be read and enjoyed any time of the year, but if you really want to get into the Christmas mood, break out the *twinkle lights*, and drink hot chocolate by the fire, then this REALLY a book you should check out!

Book Summary: When the Christmas season finds Eden in Summer Harbor, Maine, she’s on the run from trouble. Romance is the last thing on her mind.

Riding in a bus in the thickly falling snow, Eden Davis wonders how it ever came to this-fleeing under cover of night with young Micah sleeping fitfully in the seat beside her. When a winter storm strands them in Summer Harbor, Maine, Eden wonders if what might have been the end could be a new beginning.

Beau Callahan is a habitual problem-solver. He’s recently left his job with the sheriff’s department to take over the family Christmas tree farm to save it from insolvency. But he’s flummoxed. During the busiest season of the year, he’s shorthanded. Then Eden shows up looking for work, and Beau believes he’s been rescued. Competent, smart, and beautiful, Eden’s also guarded and quiet. He soon figures out she comes with a boatload of secrets. But Beau can’t seem to help himself from falling for her.

As Christmas Eve approaches, Beau discovers he’ll do anything to keep Eden safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

Isn't this a cute & festive cover? To see what the cover almost looked like, click on it for a link to Denise's Facebook post.

Isn’t this a cute & festive cover? To see what the cover almost looked like, click on it for a link to Denise’s Facebook post.

My thoughts:

With this story, Denise delivers what I have come to expect from her: a compelling contemporary plot, romance, and the spiritual growth of at least one character. This one has the added factor of suspense and a nostalgic setting. The romance and suspense are played out slowly, never rushed, revealing snippets of just why Eden is on the run a little at a time, as feelings between she and Beau grow out of his protectiveness.

More serious themes of overcoming are woven through these characters’ lives. Eden has major trust issues. But, her heart starts to give way because she’s experiencing what a true family should feel like. At the same time, the Callahan brothers are drawn together for the holiday, something they have avoided due to the connection to painful memories. Both Beau and Eden learn lessons in overcoming: fear overcome by love and grief overcome by joy in the present moment.

I particularly enjoyed this novel’s lighthearted moments with banter between Beau and Eden. The idyllic “winter wonderland” atmosphere was the perfect backdrop for their romance. And, isolated, cold winter nights were ideal for suspense and drama to unfold.

This book is the first in a new series, the “Summer Harbor” series, set in an ideal coastal Maine town. The series is going to follow the stories of the three  Callahan brothers. If you’re an avid Denise Hunter fan, you might have already “met” Beau Callahan in her recent release, Married ’til Monday. The next book in this series, The Goodbye Bride, is set to release March of next year! (It’s already on my TBR list 🙂 )

My thanks to the publisher, Thomas Nelson, and BookLook bloggers for the ebook copy in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys. You can learn more about Denise through her website DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her Facebook page at facebook.com/authordenisehunter.