I received this book for free from NetGalley 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 Casablanca on October 1, 2013
Genres: Adult, Holiday, Romance
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All he wants this Christmas is her.\r\n\r\nIn 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.\r\n\r\nEver 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.
What I liked
Damn near everything! The characters, the beautiful setting Stone built within her pages, the chemistry, the plot.
Jake Edwards is a dashing, yet troubled leading man. “Heart-broken” is his middle name, and he comes with a bit of it. This is his first Thanksgiving and Christmas home in a while, and being back in Crystal Lake is breaking his heart – in many ways. He’s a survivor of the war and a battle that stole his own twin brother, and his suffering is the guilt of that loss, as well as the guilt of the attraction he’s felt for his sister-in-law since way before his brother married her. He has nightmares about the war, and his presence in Crystal Lake is begrudging at best. He doesn’t want to be there. Raine is heartbroken, too. Mine broke for her a little bit, as her plight of loneliness and abandonment is described. Not only does she feel abandoned by her husband who died (perhaps voluntarily) in battle, but she also feels abandoned by his twin brother, Jake, who was always there for her before. Those feelings seem to have settled into contempt for life (and hygiene), as well anger and bitter resentment at her situation, which manifests itself with quick, snide words and days where all she does is sleep. Depression, thy name is. Lily St. Clare. Snarky, full of relationship wisdom, and a completely unforgiving personality, she’s a strong woman. The way she was brought into the novel makes me suspicious that she’s the next main character, which I would love to read, because I just really liked her.
Sizzling. It’s clear from te beginning that there has always been something there between Raine and Jake. Can they move past the stigma of Jake marrying his brother’s wife? Will Raine forgive him? Can they just have the sex already?! Both of them seemed to pull at each other, whether they liked it or not. I enjoyed reading how they find their way to each other, and the difficult circumstances that cloud their relationship, be it platonic or sexual. I was rooting for them the whole way.
is beautiful. Green pines, a puppy playing in the blanket of snow, the frost of your breath in the air, the small town feeling of knowing characters you were just introduced to. I bet it’s cold as hell, though.
What I didn’t like
Really, not much. It didn’t hold me the way some novels do, but I tend to just rate romances a little less than other genres, because you pretty much know it’s heading to a HEA, so there isn’t much in the way of surprises (although I suppose with romance, it’s just in how they get there that is the point of it all).
A great holiday romance for fans of romance and/or Christmas.