I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone
Series: Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 1, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon | Goodreads
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.
It’s been well over a year since Jake Edwards left his sister-in-law, Raine, after having spent the night with her. He returns to Crystal Lake after not having found the peace or redemption he thought he would if he left home. He’s back and doesn’t know how to get Raine to forgive him, nor is she ready to let go of her anger at him leaving her alone to deal with her grief, anguish and conflicted feelings (she’s his twin brother’s widow).
I enjoyed this story even though it lacked the passion and intrigue of the first book. Raine was much more interesting than I’d given her credit and I understood her descent into depression and retreat from the world around her. I also got Jake’s guilt about his feelings for Raine and his inability to save his twin brother, Jesse, in Afghanistan but was frustrated by his pattern of running when things got hard. He also could have handled explaining his relationship with friend Lily St. Clare to Raine (and me!) much better than he did. I’m still not clear about that one. Still, I loved how he and Raine ultimately came together and her way of managing it. She’s the rock in this relationship and the more interesting character.
There are still some unanswered questions about Jesse and I’m hoping the next book provides some clarity. I think I know what it is and can’t wait to find out. This was an interesting and sometimes tough story about overcoming grief and moving on, which made it even better. I’m enjoying the series and am dying to learn more about the enigmatic Mackenzie Draper.
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