This review only includes Every Year, by Kristen Ashley
Kristen Ashley, Every Year: Holidays don't come easy for Shy and his brother, Landon. But wit...moreThis review only includes Every Year, by Kristen Ashley
Kristen Ashley, Every Year: Holidays don't come easy for Shy and his brother, Landon. But with the magic of Christmas, along with a little help from Tabby and her family, the Cage brothers are about to get the gift of a lifetime . . .
I bought A Christmas to Remember for one reason only, Kristen Ashley. Though, I'm sure the other stories are great and do intend to read them at some point. But seriously, there was no way I was missing out on a Chaos Christmas story.
If you've read Own the Wind, you will recognize just how meaningful the title Every Year is. It's a promise from Shy to Tabby - one his father gave to his mother. But it is also a promise from Tabby to Shy, as well as his brother Landon. A promise that brought tears to my eyes more times than should be possible in such a short story.
As always, Kristen Ashley delivers laughter among the tears. The tiny Allens, Rider and Cutter are mini badasses at the ages of six and four. Tack is as sage and awesome as ever. Landon Parker has been pulled into the Allen fold, and Rush is a full-fledged badass I can't wait to know better. And the women, Tyra and Tabby are treasured and loved. They are the perfect counterparts to their men.
Every Year was another beautiful story from the unbeatable Kristen Ashley.
"Why're you sad, Tabby?" he whispered. "I'm not, honey," I whispered back. He pushed closer to both Shy and me, his face now confused. "But you're cryin'," he told me. I curved an arm around my baby bro and explained, "Sometimes, something so beautiful happens, you can't process it and it builds up inside so big, you can't do anything but cry." "I hope that never happens to me," he replied. "And I hope it happens to you all the time," I returned. (less)
Once upon a time, a reader named Andrea (that would be me) decided she didn't like the Beautiful Bastard series. But luckily, Andrea gave the series a...moreOnce upon a time, a reader named Andrea (that would be me) decided she didn't like the Beautiful Bastard series. But luckily, Andrea gave the series another try and decided she was wrong, wrong, WRONG. She doesn't mind being wrong, not when that means she has landed upon a deliciously wicked, raunchy, hilarious, and yes, sweet series.
The irony that I loved Beautiful Beginning and rated it five stars is not lost on me. When I read the first half of Beautiful Bastard, I was not impressed with Chloe and Bennett. It seemed that all they did was fight and fuck. And while that may be true, it is very clear that the two made it past the rocky beginning and found a beautiful life together. And once it was gently pointed out to me that *sigh* I can be a bit of a ball buster, and my guy and I bicker and spar for fun (and foreplay), then I could see and appreciate Chloe and Bennett for the fiery and dynamic individuals they were.
I am grateful that I read Beautiful Player, causing me to completely reconsider this series. I fell in love with Will and Hanna in that story, but I also became more interested in Chloe and Bennett. In turn, that pushed me to read Beautiful Beginning, and wow, it is one freaking ridiculously fantastic novella. I laughed until I cried, I swooned until I nearly cried and then I cried cried at the beauty of their love.
I happily stand corrected on the Beautiful Bastard series. I intend to start this series from the beginning, with a quickness.
My Chloe. Everything seemed to settle at once and for the first time in my life, absolutely nothing else mattered. Not deadlines or work, just this. My brain--which thrived on spreadsheets and order and managing every detail of my life and the lives of those around me--had gone quiet. Not in an unpleasant way, but in a way that finally said, take a seat and pay attention because this moment is bigger than you and every decision you've ever made.
"Holy shit. You're my wife." Laughing, I said, "We're married. That's insane. Who let this happen?" He didn't even break a smile. Instead, his eyes grew heavy, his voice even lower. "I'm going to disrespect the fuck out of you later."
"We're married," he said quietly, pressing another kiss to my belly button. "I'm your safe place. I've always been your safe place." I slid my hands into his hair, pulling gently and knowing he was right. I'd been my best and worst self with this man, and he only loved me more the more real I was with him. No place was safer for me than with Bennett. (less)
I was in the middle of reading Sarah Morgan's holiday story, Sleigh Bells in the Snow (review below), when I received the review request for Ripped. I...moreI was in the middle of reading Sarah Morgan's holiday story, Sleigh Bells in the Snow (review below), when I received the review request for Ripped. I'm so glad that I was becoming familiar with Morgan's work and enjoying it, or I might have otherwise let this one slip away. Ripped was a holiday novella that got me in the spirit, and in the mood.
Imagine how incredibly awkward it would feel to be a bridesmaid to your friend, and your ex. Awful, right? Now imagine the bride forced you to wear a hideous dress, a dress that splits the seams during the wedding. Everyone is laughing, staring... except for one man. The gorgeous and intense Best Man, Nico, who comes to the rescue. This crazy awkward scenario is what sets Ripped off to a fabulous start that left me giggling and flying through the pages.
But, Ripped is not only funny, but also very romantic and sexy. The story continues with the Miller sisters' annual Christmas party, and the sparks between Hayley and Nico fan to an out of control level. Nico Rossi = Best Christmas Gift Ever. The two get to know each other better, on all levels. The steam between Nico and Hayley was intense and sexy, but the story never lost its thoughtfulness, humor, and heart.
Ripped is a holiday romance that sends the year out with a bang. I will be anxiously awaiting the next Miller Sisters novella.
The dress was a horribly tight tube, floor length, which basically meant my legs were locked together. I couldn't even run away. I was like a mermaid, but without an ocean to drown in. Escape would be a slow, shuffling, breast-bouncing affair. ~eARC, 13%
There was one part of him he couldn't control and that part was thrusting hard against a pair of black boxer briefs. I felt sympathy for those briefs. Containing an erection of that size just wasn't in the job description. ~eARC, 67%(less)
First of all, I really need to thank my friend Cindy for alerting me to the Holy Frigging Matrimony blog tour, and declaring our friendship weighed on...moreFirst of all, I really need to thank my friend Cindy for alerting me to the Holy Frigging Matrimony blog tour, and declaring our friendship weighed on whether I signed up. She is also the person responsible for my reading Tangled in the first place. The best kind of bully is a book bully.
Second, I'm so freaking glad I had the opportunity to read Holy Frigging Matrimony early. Really glad. I almost always love reading from a dude's point-of-view. I cannot think of any dude's point-of-view who is more fun to read than Drew's. Emma Chase has an immense talent.
Holy Frigging Matrimony is such a short and fun read. But it would honestly be easy for me to write a long review about it, specifically about how much I love Drew and Kate. I would like to point out that Holy Frigging Matrimony is a short story. Not a novel. Not a novella. A short story. More accurately, approximately forty pages of pure sexy, funny awesomeness. I can also say that I was very surprised, pleasantly so, by the direction of the story.
If you loved Tangled, you will not want to miss this quickie from Drew. Holy Frigging Matrimony is definitely worth a read.
I run my fingers through her hair. "I like you sweaty. You should stay like this." Her nose wrinkles. "I smell." I press my face against her neck and inhale dramatically. "You smell like sweat and sex...and me. It's hot. Eau de Cum kicks Chanel Number Five's ass." ~eARC, 28%
My brow furrows in mock confusion. "I'm sorry--I don't speak vagina. Just what the hell is that supposed to mean?" ~eARC, 46%(less)
I love novellas, particularly when they center around an event in a story or series that I still had questions about. A Beautiful Wedding is such a no...moreI love novellas, particularly when they center around an event in a story or series that I still had questions about. A Beautiful Wedding is such a novella. I went in knowing the outcome, but the beauty in this was the details and the thoughtful manner in which McGuire explored the wedding between Travis and Abby.
One of the aspects of A Beautiful Disaster that I embraced was the character growth. Travis and Abby did not have their lives in order. But who does at their age? I can speak from experience when it comes to young love. And I can speak from experience of falling in love, and not quite knowing how to be a grown up. You learn. It may take months or it may take years. Even flawed characters, and people, deserve love. And if you can find a person who will love you regardless, you hold on for dear life and you try to become a better person, every single day. That is what I take away from Travis and Abbi's love story.
Travis and Abbi fought. They laughed. They fought. They cried. But in the end they loved. Fiercely. They grew, together. Travis recognized that he couldn't live his life fighting and f*cking. Abby recognized that her indecisiveness hurt those around her. A Beautiful Wedding, while essentially the story of their quickie wedding, was also an acknowledgement to all they'd gone through. Just how fulfilling an all-encompassing and powerful love can be.
A Beautiful Wedding was an insightful and happy story. I'm very happy that I took the time to fall in love with Travis and Abby all over again.
Sensible or not, it felt good to be loved so much, and I decided right then and there I would stop apologizing for it. There were worse things than finding your soul mate too early in life, and what was too early anyway? (less)
Cross Country Christmas was a fun Christmas novella, full of disastrous traveling adventures, the reuniting of two old friends, and a s...more** 3.5 stars **
Cross Country Christmas was a fun Christmas novella, full of disastrous traveling adventures, the reuniting of two old friends, and a sweet, slow-building romance.
It's been a while since I've read a book of King's, I'd forgotten how humorous and snarky her heroines can be. Jamie was no exception, and I loved how flustered and aggravated she was when she ran into Grant after years away from Woodfalls. Grant is the guy Jamie has been hung up on for, well, forever, but had lost her chance. Grant was a real sweetie, and I loved how his calm and dry humor balanced against Jamie. Grant is definitely a guy who's been sold short in Jamie's mind, and it was fun to see her get to know him all over again and realize how great he is.
Cross Country Christmas was a very sweet and very funny holiday novella.
Despite my bug phobia, it didn't escape my notice that Grant was wearing nothing but boxer briefs that left little to the imagination. It was at that moment that I remembered I had neglected to put on pajamas before I fell asleep. My eyes met Grant's as he came to two obvious conclusions at once. One--I wasn't being attacked by some mass murderer, and two--I was standing in the middle of the room stark naked with the exception of my Care Bears socks. (less)
Sleigh Bells in the Snow first came to my attention in October. So many romance bloggers were recommending it for a great holiday read, and recommendi...moreSleigh Bells in the Snow first came to my attention in October. So many romance bloggers were recommending it for a great holiday read, and recommending Sarah Morgan in general. I'm thrilled that I caved to the blogger peer pressure, because I truly enjoyed this story.
Sleigh Bells in the Snow as a charming and romantic story of Kayla, a workaholic who is tasked with helping Jackson find a way to save his family's resort. At Christmas. Most people would avoid working over the holiday. Kayla, though, uses work to distance herself from the painful holidays of her childhood. Jackson, stressed by business and family, sees a woman who is hiding. He wants to break her free, and knows she is worth the effort.
Sleigh Bells in the Snow was not only inspiring, and frustrating, love story (due to Kayla's resistance to Jackson), but also a family story. Jackson's crazy awesome family was trying, funny, and lovable. We also get a nice glimpse of the other two O'Neil brothers, Tyler and Shane (Jackson's identical twin, YUM) and a strong sense of where the series is headed. In fact, the subplot with Tyler and his daughter Jess was so good that it almost stole the story. I'm very excited to continue with the O'Neil Brothers series.
"It's time you had some new memories of Christmas, Kayla." His voice was as soft and gentle as the snow falling around them. "We're going to make them together so that you have something good to take away with you. That's my gift to you. Merry Christmas." ~pg. 301(less)
An absolutely amazing sequel to Remembering Joy! Jenni Moen is one of the most gifted authors I've had the privilege to read. This series is a favorit...moreAn absolutely amazing sequel to Remembering Joy! Jenni Moen is one of the most gifted authors I've had the privilege to read. This series is a favorite.
I cannot express how highly I regard Finding Joy, this series, and how thoughtfully and beautifully Moen told the story of a broken and angry man, a broken and confused woman, and the power of love to change and heal them both.
Please, do yourself a favor and give this series a chance!(less)
Knowing that I love Erickson's work under the name Monica Murphy, I was excited to read Loving Mindy. This is a novella...moreLoving Mindy by Karen Erickson
Knowing that I love Erickson's work under the name Monica Murphy, I was excited to read Loving Mindy. This is a novella that is part of a on-going series, but I honestly didn't feel that I was lost or missing the details. Erickson did a solid job of giving just enough history, without dragging the current timeframe down.
Having both a second-chance-romance and a friends-to-lovers theme, Loving Mindy is a beloved trope double-whammy. Mindy and Josh were both engaging characters, and I did become invested in their story in a very short amount of time. Bonus: this has me interested in reading the rest of Erickson's Lone Pine Lake series!
"This is the best Christmas present I've ever received," she whispered. I'm so glad you almost hit my cat." He laughed, the warm, rich sound making her smile. "That is the strangest thing you've said yet, Min, but I gotta agree. I'm glad I almost hit your cat, too."
White-Hot Holiday by Coleen Kwan
This was another really sweet, quick-paced holiday read. Set in Australia, White-Hot Holiday is the story of Aaron, who needs a break in the worst way, and Naomi, a woman who's been recently burned by love. This story had a good bit of angst, with Aaron and Naomi fighting their feelings. The angst is well-placed, though. Naomi is Aaron's best friend's niece, and he's been warned away from her. Naomi is dealing with a recent break-up with a man whom Aaron seems similar to. And there's also the pesky issue of the fact these two not only live on different continents, but almost an entire globe away. Naomi teaches Aaron to embrace the holiday spirit. Aaron convinces Naomi that she doesn't have to give up who she is for love again. The ending of this one was particularly good.
"I'm very good at customer service. See these dimples here?" He pointed at his cheek. "They're my secret weapon. I've closed major deals with them." A smile tugged at the corners of her lips. "I see. So dimples are worth more than an MBA from Columbia?" "Used judiciously, yes. They don't teach you the proper use of dimples at Columbia. It comes from experience."
An Officer and a Rebel by Cindi Madsen
Cindi Madsen is a favorite of mine, and I love her Accidentally in Love series. Remember Wes from Falling for her Fiance? Nate is his cousin, so I think that is pretty much all I need to say to convince fans that An Officer and a Rebel is worth the read.
As always, Madsen has created a story that made me laugh, and warmed my heart at the same time. Her heroine, Kelsey was a little bit crazy, a whole lot funny, and adorable. She's a little bit of a disaster, the good kind, so of course I loved her and her purple hair and potty mouth.
This story has a nice little forbidden(-ish) romance, with Kelsey being the ex-girlfriend of Nate's younger brother. There is also the fact that Nate has always had a bit of a crush on Kelsey, but thought she could never go for him. Of course things work out, but in this story, the getting there was a whole lot of fun.
His heart pounded in his chest, and he pushed his hand into her hair, desire flooding his veins once more. Addictive--that was the right word for being with Kelsey. Never enough, always wanting more.
Saving the Sheriff by Roxanne Snopek
Of the four author in the anthology, Snopek is the only one whose work I wasn't familiar with. Saving the Sheriff was fast-paced and fairly humorous story. I enjoyed the premise, with Frankie infiltrating a man who's endangering game, and she's determined to save them from the butcher. Red is the sheriff in need of rescuing, which, I think what needed to be saved was his surly attitude. (just kidding, he was fine)
Frankie was fun and lively. Red was coping with his first Christmas since divorce, and was understandably a bit of a sad sack. I never really fell in love with the characters as much as I enjoyed the premise. What made this fun for me was the humor. I loved how these two teased one another. And the ending, it was another sweet and satisfying conclusion.
"You look good in the morning." Red half-sat up against the couch, his arms crossed behind his head, a lazy grin on his face. "You could dial back the crazy a touch, though."(less)
Passionate and Angsty. At first glance, those are the perfect words to describe Dare to Love. But not only is Dare to Love passionate and deliciously...morePassionate and Angsty. At first glance, those are the perfect words to describe Dare to Love. But not only is Dare to Love passionate and deliciously angsty, it is also a really powerful story about two people who are bound by the past, and find the strength -together- to move forward. To be free of everything that has held them back.
Dare to Love is the story of Riley Taylor and Ian Dare. Riley's best friend is Ian's estranged half-brother, Alex, and when the two meet, it is an instant connection they share. I'm not talking insta-love, I'm saying insta-passion, the very kind that strikes you from across the room, and will not let go. Their initial obstacle is Alex, who's only known Ian to be a womanizer, and does not want that for his best friend. In order to win Riley over, Ian and Alex must make nice. Due to some very heavy issues, this will not be easy. These are the very issues that drive Ian's need for control, another obstacle for the couple. Due to her own past, Riley is not having a man who wants to dominate her every move, though in the bedroom is a whole other ballgame. So here we have two passionate and headstrong people who want to be together, but must work through their issues, let down their boundaries, and see if they can make a go of being a couple. Together. Strong.
It has been quite a while since I've read a Carly Phillips book, and I have to say, it has been way too long. Phillips is maybe the first contemporary romance author I read as an adult (Chandler Brothers!) , and I was immediately reminded of why I loved them so much. Dare to Love had such a nice, fast pace and I found myself breezing through the story in a matter of a couple hours. Not only did I get a steamy and fun story, but a thoughtful one as well. Ian and Riley were not only inherently likable characters, but they equally experienced tremendous character growth, the kind of epiphanies and revelations that made me want to cheer Phillips.
Dare to Love is the first in the Dare to Love series. With the amount of Dare siblings and the dynamic personalities they all seem to have, this should be only the beginning in a great series. It seems that next up will be Alex Dare, and guys, I cannot wait to read his book. Carly Phillips has hooked me again.
"I've dreamed about the way you might taste. Are you sweet, Riley?" he asked, his voice gruff and sexy.
Please let me make you feel good. Her words had shredded his emotions, stripping him bare. She'd gotten into his head in a way no woman ever had. Because she cared. Not because he was wealthy and could give her gifts in return, not because she desired something from him, but because she wanted just him.
Learning to accept things from others, from small items and gifts to larger, more significant offers, like a new job and a place to live, she was slowly bending. Giving up her hard-won and fought-for independence. And the scariest of all, coming to count on having Ian in her life. But she was also realizing that relying on others didn't make her weak...it made her human. (less)
First Impression ....Sexy cover, but, I did not like the first book. My friends swear this series gets better and better. I hope they're right...
The S...moreFirst Impression ....Sexy cover, but, I did not like the first book. My friends swear this series gets better and better. I hope they're right...
The Story... Hanna needs to get a life. Seriously. In an effort to help his sister, Hanna's brother reconnects her with his best friend Will. The Beautiful Player. Will meets up with Hanna with a mind to help out his friend's little sister, but instead finds a woman. Sure, Hanna's not Will's usual conquest. She is a blunt, funny, unassuming, and quirky genius, all wrapped up in a naturally beautiful package. Will quickly realizes he wants more with Hanna. But Hanna, who's long-term crush on Will may finally come to fruition, is all too familiar with Will's reputation. She needs his help perfecting the art of sex and dating, but is determined not to fall in love with him. Soon, the undeniable chemistry leads them to crossing the lines between friendship and a relationship. Hanna is reluctant, and Will is left to prove he is worth the chance. And that together, they can have it all.
The Characters ... In a word, perfection. Hanna is an every woman. She's not a fashionista, or worldly. Hanna is unsure of her abilities in the dating world, but she was not an unsure or weak character. She was beautifully honest, and blunt. I adored that she almost said literally whatever popped into her head. I loved that she was bold and curious about sexuality. I loved her with Will.
Will Sumner..... (excuse my while I swooooooon). A long-time player and assuredly a breaker of hearts, Will is no jackass. He is always upfront with the women who come and go in his life, but that gentle honesty is put to the test with Hanna. For the first time, Will is the lover who is holding back, afraid of pushing her away with declarations. Will wants Hanna, but also wants her to be happy, even if that's not with him. The way he cared for Hanna makes him an automatic winner. The way he "taught" Hanna makes him a (book) man to covet.
The main characters from Beautiful Bastard and Beautiful Stranger all make appearances in Beautiful Player. I have a friend who's been trying to force Beautiful Stranger (specifically Max) on me, but I started with book one. I recently set that book aside because I just could not get into it. Looking back, that might be partially due to the audio book narrator and not the actual story. Seeing the characters now, I am willing to give BB another try. I'll also credit that to my best friend. I mentioned to her that I didn't like Chloe and Bennett. Her reply, "That's funny, because you and Eric (my husband) act a lot like Chloe and Bennett."
Challenge accepted. I really liked all of these characters in Beautiful Player, even Chloe and Bennett and will definitely go back and give them another try. Plus, I can't go around hating a character that my best friend has compared to me, now can I?
The Writing ...Here's where I eat a big ol' slice of humble pie. After getting through only half of book one, I was ready to write this series off. If I hadn't received a copy from the publisher in the mail, I would have. And you know, I would have been missing out on a kickass story. Beautiful Player was thoughtful, so fun, and so sexy. I don't know if the difference is me or the writing, but I am stunned by the remarkable difference in this series between books. Here's how drastic the change was: I gave book one only one star. I went into this book resigned to the fact I would likely hate it, and would quit after one hundred obligatory pages. But, I fell in love with this book within one chapter. I laughed hysterically, did some hardcore fanning at the steam, and truly, truly loved this book. I gave it five very enthusiastic stars.
The Heat ... SMOKIN'!! Beautiful Player was deliciously wicked. That's a fact. But what made it stand out for me was that it was also thoughtful in how the sex and romance played out between Hanna and Will. Hanna asks Will to teach her how to perform various acts, and he does so happily. Hanna is an enthusiastic student, willing for anything, but she enjoys and has fun with it. But Will, he is actually learning as much as Hanna. He is learning the act of making love. Of finding something beautiful in an act of physical and emotion connection.
I also appreciated that the authors seemed to portray the intimacy in a realistic manner. In sex, Will and Hanna had fun. It wasn't perfect. It was raw and messy and fun and intimate and just honest and real.
Could I Put Beautiful Player Down? .... Only when life and utter exhaustion forced me too. I could not get enough of Will and Hanna.
In the End... I adored Beautiful Player. It was so sexy, and so much fun. I will definitely give this series another chance. I'm not sure that I was wrong about Beautiful Bastard, but I know enough to realize I should definitely give it another try.
She'd looked over and caught me; the energy between us palpable, and confusing as fuck. And when she smiled, it lit up her whole face. She looked as open as a screen door in the summer, and despite the temperature, something warmed in my veins. It was an old, yet familiar hunger. A desire I hadn't felt in forever, where my blood filled with adrenaline and I wanted to be the only one to discover a particular girl's secrets.
"See, the problem with boobs is if you have big ones, you can never look thin. You get these burns on your shoulders from bra straps, and your back hurts. And unless you're using them for their intended purpose, they're always in the way." "In the way of what? My hands? My face? Don't you blaspheme in here." He looked up to the sky. "She didn't mean it, Lord. Promise." Ignoring him, I said, "That's why I had a reduction when I was twenty-one," which was when his expression morphed into one of horror. You'd have thought I told him I made an amazing stew from tiny babies and puppy tongues. "Why on earth would you do that? That's like God giving you a beautiful gift and you kicking him in the nuts." I laughed. "God? I thought you were agnostic, Professor." "I am. But if I could motorboat perfect tits like yours I might be able to find Jesus."
My chest warmed intensely when it occurred to me: this was our beginning. Right here, partially hidden by the steam of the shower was where we clarified everything. (less)
First Impression.... I'm not usually interested in alternate point-of-view stories. But I do love Cam....
The Story... Wait For You was Avery's story o...moreFirst Impression.... I'm not usually interested in alternate point-of-view stories. But I do love Cam....
The Story... Wait For You was Avery's story of courage, trust, and falling in love with a boy who gave her friendship, a turtle, and cookies. Trust in Me is the story through Cam's eyes. But, Trust in Me is not a simple rehash of the original story. Cam's book provides a lot of insights into why he was so willing to wait for Avery; how and why he wanted to earn her trust.
As I mentioned, I loved Cam lots. Now I adore that super sweetheart even more. Nothing is sweeter than seeing a boy fall seriously in love. Cam also renewed my appreciation for the good guy. He was funny, patient, and just such a good guy. As for Avery, I actually enjoyed her more in this book. Seeing her vulnerability through Cam's eyes endeared her more to me.
Besides Avery and Cam, Trust in Me features Ollie and Jase quite a lot. These dudes were so much fun, and I always welcome an excellent Bromance.
The Writing.... As always, J. Lynn/Armentrout's writing is deliciously fun. I love, love the snark, the sarcasm, and the humor. I also enjoyed the pace of the story now, more than I find in Wait For You. When I read that book, I felt like the pace trudged along a fair amount. And maybe I would still think that if I re-read. But in the time since I read Wait For You, I have read many, many books in the same vein, books that rushed or brushed over the topic of sexual trauma. One thing I've learned is, I would rather an author take the time to handle this in the manner it deserves, than rush. Or indicate that the best healing is sexual healing. Blech. J. Lynn did Avery's story justice. I and many other readers appreciate this more than we can say.
Could I Put Trust in Me Down? .... I'm actually surprised at how much I did NOT want to put this story down. I'm not a big on re-reading books, or re-watching movies, except for my very favorites. And though I knew exactly where and how the story would end, getting there was a great ride.
In the End... I adored Trust In Me. I found it to be surprisingly fresh - considering the story- and completely charming. This story renewed my appreciation for this series, and has me very excited to continue.
One look at Ollie's creased forehead told me he was racking his brain for what he did. I sighed. "You really need to lay off the pot." "If I've heard that once, I've heard that a million times, but Mary Jane loves me, and she's the only girl I love."
In that moment, I realized I was seeing a very different side of Avery. One I'd never seen before, where she was lively and carefree, and fucking perfect. "I'm going to marry that girl one day," I heard myself say. Jase chocked on his beer and bent over, dragging in deep breaths. "Holy shit." I grinned. (less)
From the moment I met them in The Summer He Came Home, and realized just how stormy and complicated the relationship was, I have been waiting for Jake...moreFrom the moment I met them in The Summer He Came Home, and realized just how stormy and complicated the relationship was, I have been waiting for Jake and Raine's story. Thinking back on it, as much as I loved Cain and Maggie, and was intrigued by Mackenzie, Jake and Raine practically stole the book. It doesn't get much more torn and complicated than falling in love with your deceased twin's widow. The promise of a beautiful and heart-breaking story is what had me anticipating The Christmas He Loved Her. That anticipation was so worth it.
The Christmas He Loved Her is the story of two lost souls who must face down the darkness that has been hovering over them for two years. Jake Edwards lost his twin Jesse, a fellow soldier, on the battlefield in Afghanistan. He is consumed by not only grief, but also guilt that he wasn't able to stop the events that led to Jesse's death. But it's not only that guilt that consumes him, but also the guilt that he has been in love with his brother's widow for years. Raine was always a part of the Edwards brothers' life. She had completely different relationships with each brother, an especially intense relationship with Jake, but she and Jesse fell in love. Since Jesse's death, she has been wrapped up in her pain. A pain that it seems only Jake can ease.
Juliana Stone did a remarkable job with Jake and Raine. There were so many moments when her words evoked such a response in me, that it felt like a punch in the stomach. It was so powerful, and I am such an empathetic reader, that I could almost envision the pain of losing my own husband. Or brother. She didn't just write a story about two broken characters, she brought them to life. I was simply blown away by these characters and their story.
I would also like to mention the secondary characters. The Day He Kissed Her will be the next book in The Bad Boys of Crystal Lake. This book will focus on Mac, one of the Bad Boys, and he clearly has a story to tell. I have a feeling it will be a heart-ripper. Lily, Jake's friend was introduced in this story. I did not like her one little bit for most of the book. Near the end, though, she began to grow on me and I am excited to get to know her better, as well. Cain and Maggie also showed up in this installment, and it was so awesome to get a glimpse of the happy couple.
The Christmas He Loved Her isn't so much a holiday story as it was a story that happened to be set at the holidays. I only point this out to explain that if you're not into holiday books, or the season comes and goes and you haven't read it, don't let this book pass you by. This book happens to be one of the very best stories dealing with the aftermath of losing a loved one that I have ever read. It also is what I consider to be one of the very best stories about a returned soldier, the pain and trauma that continues to linger long after the battlefield has been left. This story portrays a man that is still grieving his twin, and is still facing his fiercest battle yet. The battle with his heart and mind.
If you are looking for a powerful, beautiful story that will grip your heart and emotions, but will also leave you so very satisfied in the end, I highly recommend The Christmas He Loved Her.
She went quiet as her thoughts wandered toward the dark place inside her. The empty place. The one that would never heal. I'm alone. Jake's eyes narrowed and the bleakness in them intensified. She knew exactly what he was thinking about, and for a moment she was back there with him. Back to that crazy night when the darkness inside both of them had exploded. The night they had reached for each other in pain. The night they had used their bodies to try and forget Jesse's death -- her husband, his brother. But it had backfired, and their pain had been too great, their last words bitter. Jake's had rung in her head for many, many nights. I can't stand to be around you.
He gave up any pretenses of fighting the one thing he'd wanted his entire life, it seemed. Wrong or right didn't matter anymore, not when he'd been lost for so long and finally, finally felt as if he'd found himself. In that moment, Jake Edwards said to hell with the consequences and ignored the voice in the back of his mind. The one that told him he'd be damn lucky to survive it. (less)