Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Christmas He Loved Her (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake, #2)Title:  The Christmas He Loved Her
Series:  Bad Boys of Crystal Lake, Book 2
Author:  Juliana Stone
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
4.5 Notes, 4 Smokin Flames!

4.5 Tear Jerking, Heart Melting Notes!  Juliana Stone took an impossible situation and turned it into something beautiful!

Goodreads Synposis:

All he wants this Christmas is her.

In the small town of Crystal Lake, Christmas is a time for sledding, hot chocolate, and cozying up to the fire with those you love. For Jake Edwards, it’s also time to come home and face his past. He thought there would never be anything harder than losing his brother. Turns out there is: falling in love with his brother’s widow, Raine.

Ever since they were little, Jesse was the Edwards brother who was always there for her, and Jake was the one who knew just how to push her buttons. Raine can’t imagine a life without them, which is why it was doubly decimating when Jake left town after his brother’s sudden death. Now he’s back and she doesn’t know whether to be mad or thrilled. Maybe both. Maybe it will be the perfect chance for both of them to finally find happiness again.

 The Christmas He Loved Her is Juliana Stone's 2nd book in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake Series and she delivered by tackling what seemed to be an impossible situation and making it work.  Jake and Raine's story was heart wrenching, complicated, and clouded in secrets and guilt.  Stone really takes readers to the brink of their despair as she forces the couple to confront long-time truths about what they have meant to each other while also daring them to embrace one another and just feel.

What really worked for me in this book was the honest truth about "survival guilt" that many soldiers who make through a traumatic event and return home. Jake's inability to return to life as normal was an accurate representation of what happens in cases like this.  I also commend Stone for showing the importance of family.  While Jake fled his family to try to get his head straight, he ultimately had to return home and accept his family/friend's love before he could begin to heal. My absolute favorite scene from the book was when Jake was confronted by Cain: You're running scared, Jake, because everything you want is right in front of you and you've always been afraid to take it.  you're hiding behind your dead brother."

My only complaint about the book was the focus Stone placed on Jesse's duffel bag from Afghanistan. The bag was brought up on numerous occasions with both Jake and Raine acknowledging neither had gone through the bag,which indicated that it might have some significance only for the book to end and we never learn what was in the bag. The romantic in me is hoping this means we will get a novella for Jake and Raine at a later date where they open the bag and somehow get a sign from Jesse that it was okay for the 2 to move on with their lives. Either way, I will be continuing the series and Mac and Lily is up next so I'll be all over that one.  I'm giving The Christmas He Loved Her 4.5 Notes and 4 Flames!


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