Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter (review)

Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter, Summer Harbor #3I thought the first book in the Summer Harbor series was just okay, then I adored the second book in the series, The Goodbye Bride (review here).  However, both books left me wanting to know what had happened between Aunt Trudi and the Sheriff, and what would happen between the youngest Callahan brother and his best friend Paige.  Just a Kiss was well worth the wait.  It left me entertained, satisfied, and possibly a bit more informed.

It is not okay to be thinking this way, Paige Warren.  He’s your friend–your best friend.  He doesn’t have corded muscles or pensive green eyes.

Except he did.  And now that she’d noticed, she couldn’t seem to go back to seeing him the way she had before. (p.75)

This is a book that is likely to make you want to read it in one sitting.  The complications of sharing a house, Paige’s family history and abandonment issues, Riley’s PTSD and difficulties surrounding physical healing and getting a prosthesis, not to mention Paige’s dating life all contribute to a well-paced, well-plotted main storyline that had me rooting for this couple to finally be together.  Not to mention a certain charity auction, whose outcome was not quite what I expected.

The hollow spot in his middle widened.  She must like the guy a lot to have bid so much on him the night before.  Probably couldn’t bear the thought of him going out with someone else.  He knew the feeling. (p.174)

The interplay between Paige and Riley felt so real, the hesitations and misunderstandings between two best friends that are meant to be together – if only both of them would realize it and learn to trust in each other and God.  In learning the history behind that other star-crossed couple, Aunt Trudi and her bashful Sheriff, the reader is given a second story also about overcoming bitterness and of lasting, patient, and sacrificial love.

She leaned back, and their eyes aligned.  He saw so much there.  Things he’d longed for when he was thousands of miles away.  Wehn Paige was no more than a distant voice across the phone, a faded picture in his pocket, a wispy vision in his dreams. (p.215)

While set in the fall and winter, this would be a great choice for a spring or summer read.  Perhaps even as a “beach read.”

Highly recommended for those who enjoy Contemporary Inspirational Romance, and for those who enjoy a romance that feels realistic and has both moments of heartache and touches of humor.  While Paige and Riley’s story is easy to enjoy on its own, having the “will they, won’t they, HOW and WHEN will they get together” build up over the course of the series makes it just that much more fun to read.

From the Publisher:

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?

Just a Kiss (Summer Harbor, #3) by Denise Hunter | Thomas Nelson, September 2016 | paperback, 336 pages

I voluntarily received a complimentary review copy of this book from the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan’s Fiction Guild.  All opinions expressed are my own.


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