01 September 2016

Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
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?

The conclusion to Denise Hunter’s Summer Harbor series packs quite the emotional punch for the third eligible Callahan brother, as he finally get his chance for romance. Since meeting Riley Callahan and his best friend Paige Warren in Falling Like Snowflakes, I’ve been anxious (and hoping) to see what course their love story would take - and I’m glad to say Just a Kiss does not disappoint.

Riley returns from his time in the military a broken man, one leg short. Though he’s been in love with Paige for years, he no longer feels worthy of winning her heart and determines to simply maintain their platonic friendship status. Yet, weeks of recovery complicate Riley’s plans, forcing him into inconveniently close quarters with Paige. Of course, this time together pushes both of them to face their feelings for one another, as well as deal with their persistent and hindering insecurities, and sets them on a perfectly paced trajectory for sweet (albeit frustrating, at times) romance and hopeful healing.

Just a Kiss will please any reader of contemporary romance looking for a heartwarming read full of authentic, lovable characters, swoon-worthy moments, and encouraging spiritual themes. I really could not read this book fast enough - it’s an excellent romance for Riley and Paige (and, finally, Aunt Trudy and Sheriff Colton, too). I loved all of it and easily recommend it, right along with the previous two Summer Harbor novels.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of Just a Kiss and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

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