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Jade returns home to
Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes
Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Growing up in the midwestern river town of Chapel Springs,
Indiana, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. Now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she ...
Jade returns home to
Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes
Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Growing up in the midwestern river town of Chapel Springs,
Indiana, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. Now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost nonexistent, Daniel fit right in with the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always thought of him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.
As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt.” Returning home may prove more difficult—and more wonderful—than she ever imagined.
Includes Reading Group Guide.
“Hunter’s latest Chapel Springs Romance is a lovely story of lost and found, with a heroine struggling to accept that trusting God doesn’t make life perfect—without loss or sorrow—but can bring great joy. The hero’s love for her and willingness to lose her to save her is quite moving.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 stars (on Barefoot Summer)
Jade's foot eased off the gas as she passed the marina, not because the speed limit had changed but because her heart had begun beating up into her throat.
She hadn't expected to see Chapel Springs, Indiana, for a long time, but it had barely been a year—a year of broken dreams. But then sometimes life took unexpected turns.
The evening sun sparkled on the Ohio River, the pink clouds brightening the water's surface. Spring had wakened the valley, greening the hills and unfurling leaf buds on the trees.
Jade stopped at a light and put down her window, inhaling the fresh scent of a Midwestern spring: rain, river, and pine. Tourists had yet to arrive, and the parallel parking slots on Main Street were empty, the businesses locked up for the night.
Nothing had changed. Same brick storefronts, sun-faded canopies, and ancient streetlamps. On the corner, the Rialto theater's lights kicked on, chasing each other in an endless rectangle. The board listed two movies that had premiered in Chicago months ago.
When the light changed, she pressed the accelerator. Her car gave a reluctant start. She followed the road through town and around a corner that separated her from the river. Her mouth dried as she approached the turn toward her parents' farm.
The fields would be plowed by now, the corn in the ground. Her mom and dad would be snuggled on the couch watching some old black-and-white movie. She suddenly regretted her decision to surprise them.
Her heart thumped heavily against her ribs. She squeezed the steering wheel, her rings cutting into her thumbs. Her foot never found the brake, and she passed the turn, continuing down the winding road.
Ahead on the left, she saw the cement drive. Lined with landscape lighting and turning up a wooded knoll, it was hard to miss.
She headed into the drive and mounted the hill, her pea-green Ford struggling with the effort. Twilight was thick under the canopies of ancient trees. The crickets and cicadas had already begun their nightly chorus.
She pressed on, following the lane down the back side of the hill, sloping toward the river. Ahead, the shingled boathouse was silhouetted against the darkening sky. A lone light shone from the upstairs window through what looked like a thin sheet.
She put her car in park and turned off the ignition. She hadn't been to Daniel's place for years. He was always at her parents' house or hanging around the coffeehouse with his laptop and a ready handshake.
She got out of the car and pushed the door shut, its loud squeak echoing across the water. She stepped onto the dock and followed the stairs that ran alongside the building, suddenly wondering if he'd be upset. She hadn't exactly kept in touch.
When she reached the top, she rapped her knuckles on the pine door and waited. Below her the water rippled against the shore and against the dock. The wind kicked up, and Daniel's boat bumped the wood piling. She wondered if he still took it out on the river when he needed to get away.
The door opened, and there he was. He froze at the sight of her, his lips parting, his blue, blue eyes widening. If she hadn't been so glad to see him, she would've laughed.
"Jade? What are you doing here?"
She walked into his arms and felt his shock ease as he enveloped her with his solid frame. She already had a big brother, but Daniel filled a spot in her heart she hadn't known existed until Ryan brought him home when they were all still kids.
She heard a voice that belonged to neither of them and pulled away. It was coming from the phone in his hand.
He put it to his ear, stepping aside to let Jade go inside. "I have to go, Mom. I'll call you later." He sighed, not following through. "I guess. I know." He grabbed a scrap of paper and jotted down a phone number. "Fine. Yes, I'll call her. Bye, Mom."
He pocketed the phone and turned to her. He seemed taller and broader. His hair was longer, his bangs dipping down nearly to his eyes—very un-mayorlike. It looked good on him though.
"Sorry to just drop in. It's so good to see you."
She watched his blue eyes go from warm to cool in the space of ten seconds. He'd always had the most mesmerizing eyes.
"You have a minute?"
He crossed his arms. "I'm kind of busy."
She escaped his gaze, scanning the room. A lamp glowed by a leather recliner. His open laptop was perched on the end table along with a bunch of boring-looking forms.
She wiped her palms on her gypsy skirt and flipped her braid over her shoulder. "I'm sorry I didn't call."
"It's been a year."
"I know I'm not your real brother, but—"
She frowned. "Stop that."
"—a phone call isn't asking much. A letter, a postcard, a text—"
"You're right." She'd hurt him. And he probably wasn't the only one. "I'm sorry. Things weren't what I expected in Chicago."
"You had big dreams."
That was the last thing she wanted to talk about. She followed him into the living room, passing a spare room that was filled with barbells and weights. A heavy-duty treadmill stood in the corner, the panel lit with orange numbers. She caught a whiff of sweat and ambition.
Daniel picked up the remote control, and blackness swallowed the political talk show. Silence crept in, filling the room with awkwardness.
He studied her until she felt like an amoeba under a microscope.
"Are you just here for the wedding?" he asked finally.
She shook her head.
An emotion flickered in his eyes, but he turned and headed into his galley kitchen before she could decipher it.
The wedding was less than a month away. Her sister Madison and Beckett O'Reilly. Jade's heart sank at the thought of facing her soon-to-be brother-in-law. The whole secret admirer thing had been one big embarrassment—the reason she'd left. Or the last straw anyway. Deep down she'd been yearning for a fresh start for years.
Jade had thought Beckett had sent her notes and flowers. Thought he'd wanted her. But it had been Madison he'd wanted all along. And now Jade was arriving home just in time for their wedding.
Daniel opened the fridge, pulled out a jug of tea, and poured some into a glass. He added two heaping spoonfuls of sugar and brought it to her.
He gestured toward the brown leather sofa. "Have a seat."
"Thanks." She took down half the glass, then set it on the front section of the Chapel Springs Gazette. Her eyes wandered the room and settled on the "curtains"—a white sheet hanging haphazardly over a curtain rod.
"Your folks didn't tell me you were coming."
"They didn't know. Still don't. This is my first stop."
She shrugged. "Impulse." She was beginning to think it had been a bad one. She'd already insulted Daniel by ignoring him for a year. Now she was going to beg a favor?
She was selfish and thoughtless. She should've gone to her parents' or Madison's. She'd at least spared them a few phone calls over the past year. She took another sip of her tea, wishing it were ginger ale.
Daniel cocked his head. "What can I do for you, Jade?"
She hated that he'd guessed right. She didn't want to dive into that yet. She remembered the phone call she'd interrupted.
"How are your parents? That was your mom on the phone?"
He gave her a look—I know what you're doing—but settled back in the chair and went along. "They're fine. Mom's found my perfect match again and is determined to set me up when I go there next weekend."
"There" was Washington, DC. Daniel's dad was an Indiana senator. If his parents had anything to say about it, Daniel would one day move into national politics too. At present they settled for town mayor, a post his grandfather had held for sixteen years, but they probably wouldn't be satisfied until he occupied the White House.
She gave him a weary smile. "Maybe she is your perfect match. Mom knows best and all that."
He looked away. Closed his laptop.
"Catch me up on you," she said.
He steepled his hands, resting his chin on his fingertips as he filled her in. Still a volunteer fireman. His job was keeping him busy. Grandma Dawson was having trouble keeping up with her social obligations and charity work.
"And you, Jade?" he asked when he was finished. "What's going on with you?"
She cleared her throat, thinking of the stressful four weeks she'd just endured. Why did it always seem her life was spinning out of control?
She wasn't going there tonight. "I need a job, Daniel." It was the least of the favors, the easiest one to start with.
"Food ... shelter ... clothing ..."
"That's not what I mean." His blue eyes were like lasers, seeing too much, too deeply.
She looked away, twisting the top ring on her middle finger. "I'm back to stay."
She was sure her family had kept him in the loop while she'd been gone. She'd been living with her best friend, working at a café, playing her guitar at a trendy coffee shop.
And now she was home. Jobless.
"Don't really want to get into it."
Daniel popped to his feet and headed to the kitchen again. He emptied the carafe into a mug and took a sip, his white dress shirt stretching across his shoulders at the motion. The sleeves were rolled up at the cuff, exposing sturdy forearms.
"I thought you might have the inside scoop on who's hiring."
A few seconds later he turned, leaned against the counter. "You could probably get your spot back at the Coachlight. Including your guitar gig. The guy who took your place doesn't compare." His lips turned up before he took another sip.
His smile. That's what had been missing. She wondered if things were as okay with him as he'd said. Or maybe he was more ticked at her than he let on.
The thought of smelling coffee all day made her stomach turn. "I need more than minimum wage. I'm hoping to crash with Madison until the wedding, but after that ..."
"Don't want to horn in on the newlyweds?"
"Exactly. And I refuse to be one of those twentysomethings eating Cheetos all day in her parents' basement."
* * *
"So can you help me?" Jade's eyebrows rose, disappearing under her dark bangs.
He'd forgotten the magnetic pull of her green eyes. There was something different about her face, though. He studied it, trying to solve the mystery. Same almond-shaped eyes that hitched up at the corners. Same straight, button-tipped nose. Same full lips that so rarely stretched into a smile, he felt like a hero when he made it happen.
"What about your music?" he asked.
She sat up straighter, lifting her dimpled chin. Her rings clicked together as she laced her fingers. "It's time to grow up. I need a real job."
Never thought he'd hear those words come from Jade's mouth. She lived and breathed her music. It had been that way since he'd taught her some basic guitar chords her freshman year. She'd plucked away for hours a day and passed him up within a few months. She'd written songs throughout high school and given lessons to every friend who showed an interest. By the time she left, she'd built a strong base of students.
What had happened in Chicago? She'd always marched to the beat of her own drum. He remembered the first time he saw her, spinning in circles in the McKinleys' darkened backyard, her skirt swirling around her spindly legs.
"What are you doing?" he'd asked, one part scoffing, one part fascinated.
"Dancing with the fireflies," she'd said. "Wanna join me?"
Jade had always done her own thing. But she seemed different now. Like she'd lost her spark. She hadn't really been the same since Aaron's death.
He blinked the memory away. "I'll check around. See what I can find."
"I appreciate it." She finished her tea and stood, her long dark braid slipping over shoulder. "I should let you get back to work."
Daniel followed her to the door, wondering why she'd stopped at his place first. Just the job? Unlikely. There was something she wasn't saying, but he knew enough not to press her.
"The family will be glad to have you home," he said as they reached the door.
She turned and leaned in for a shoulder hug that he longed to make more of. Instead he patted her on the back the way he should.
"It's good to see you again," she said.
"You too, Squirt," he added for good measure.
And then she was slipping out his door, down the steps, and into her car. Slipping back into his life as easily as she'd slipped into his heart.CHAPTER 2
Jade rinsed her mouth in Madison's bathroom sink, cleaned up behind her, and headed for the kitchen. Lulu, her sister's border collie, followed, her claws ticking on the hardwood floor. Wedding paraphernalia covered the coffee table, along with a notepad and an empty bowl with a spoon.
Her sister hadn't been home when Jade arrived, so she'd left a voice mail on Madison's cell. ("Guess who's on your front porch? Hope you don't mind if I let myself in.")
She'd called her parents and told them she was home, promising to come by in the morning for tea. After they'd caught up, Jade called Ryan, knowing word would spread quickly through the family grapevine. Her brother was more inquisitive about her return than her parents, but she'd sidestepped his questions and begged off when her stomach became unsettled.
She grabbed a bottled water, washing the acid from her throat. One look at the Burger Barn, one whiff of the char-grilled beef, and she'd pulled through the drive-through, ordering a big, greasy, sloppy burger. It had been heaven. It had also been a mistake.
The front doorknob rattled. The key slid in and the door burst open. Madison rushed in, dark eyes settling on Jade. A smile broke loose, the door whooshed shut.
She charged across the room, enveloping Jade in a rocking hug. "You're home! Why didn't you call?"
Jade couldn't help but smile. "I did."
"I meant before you were on my porch." Madison pulled back, not letting go. "Do Mom and Dad know?"
"Just called them."
"My wedding's not for a month, you know."
"How do you feel about a roommate—just until the wedding?"
"A whole month?" Madison whooped. "Where's your luggage?"
"In the car."
Madison spun, heading outside, already making plans for the two of them. Lulu trotted behind her, tail wagging, and Jade brought up the rear.
Madison tugged the car door open. Jade's green bathroom rug flopped onto the gravel drive, unrolling. Stuffed into the backseat were her guitar case, her flowered lamp, a bookcase she'd discovered in an antique store in Chicago, two suitcases, and a large box of odds and ends.
Madison turned, brown eyes wide, caution in the line of her slim shoulders. "You're staying ...?"
Jade wrinkled her nose. "Yes?"
"Yay!" Madison hugged her again, tighter this time. Jade let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding.
Madison helped her lug her things into her old bedroom. It looked the same: lavender walls, wooden floor covered by a shaggy purple rug, a high twin bed draped with a faded quilt and piled with lavender, black, and green pillows. Home sweet home. For a few weeks.
Madison set the lamp on the table. "This is ... interesting."
"Izzy called it my flower child lamp."
"Fitting." She shook the lamp shade, and the green fringe danced.
Jade plopped on the bed, fatigue edging in as they chatted. Madison caught her up on wedding details and family stuff, then shifted the subject to work. Her brainy sister was a veterinarian at the local clinic.
"Have you eaten?" Madison said after a while.
"Yeah." Never mind that the burger was long gone. Food was the last thing she wanted.
"You look tired."
"Make it an early night. We have lots of time to catch up."
"I think I might. I can hardly keep my eyes open."
"Get in your jammies and go to sleep. We'll chat more tomorrow."
Madison turned at the door. "I'm glad you're back, Jade. I missed you."
"Missed you too."
The door clicked shut. Jade kicked off her Birkenstocks. Her limbs felt like lead. She fell back against the pillows, trying to find the energy to unzip her suitcase and get ready for bed. Instead, she rolled to her side and pulled open the nightstand drawer.
She pushed aside the secret admirer notes, brushing away the twinge of humiliation they brought. Aaron's letters were beneath them. Stacked in the corner, just as she'd left them. She toyed with the idea of reading them again. She'd missed them, had wished for them a hundred times in Chicago.
But no, she was done with all that. Love had a way of taking you fast and sucking you into a delicious vortex of feelings. Then when you thought you were invincible, it grabbed you and held you down until your lungs burned. Until you could only wish for death.
Excerpted from Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter. Copyright © 2014 Denise Hunter. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted March 17, 2014
I liked this story. I love to read books that stay in their genre but also have just a small tweek to make them better. Denise created awesome characters and let them fly. Pun intended. Daniel would admit to having a life of family handouts yet he is missing the one thing he really wants. Jade has had a life time of tragedies. One of her twin siblings died early. Then she lost her first love in a car crash. She has a messed up date gone wrong and she swears off love. She relies on Daniel to keep her steady and anything I write from here on will spoil your read. So grab your copy and enjoy this story.
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Posted March 3, 2014
Jade McKinley left her small hometown of Chapel Springs to pursue big dreams in the city. When something terrible happens, she packs everything and decides to return home. Meet Daniel Dawson, the guy who has been like a big brother to Jade since she can remember. As they grow closer and closer, he’s reminded of his strong feelings for Jade, but can she return them?
Let me just say, I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance books. I usually skip them over for suspense, action, dystopian, historical, etc. because sometimes they can be pretty boring. Dancing with Fireflies, however? Absolutely adorable! I loved the characters, the plot, the romance, the dialogue, and the CHARACTERS. Jade and Daniel were so cute and funny and I have to admit, I laughed out loud quite a few times. Jade’s family was adorable and I immediately fell in love with all of them! The story was so well balanced. It was serious and realistic, yet hopeful and romantic. Denise Hunter is a very talented author; she wove an inspirational tale of a woman learning to love again so well that it made me feel joy, sadness, and everything in between.
If you are looking for a book that makes you laugh, cry, or just plain happy, Dancing with Fireflies is it! It was inspirational, emotional, romantic, funny, and so very entertaining. I am very happy to add it to my bookshelf!
**I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. All thoughts are entirely my own.
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 16, 2014
Denise Hunter has to be hands-down one of my favorite romance authors. Her writing style is simply amazing and I wish I could convey to you what it means to have an invitation to review any of her books. I am always thrilled when I see her name pop up on a book review invitation, because I don't even have to read the synopsis to decide whether I want to consider it for a review, I know it will be a winner!!!
I don't think there is one woman who hasn't had a romantic man from her past that she hasn't wished or wanted to know what would have happened if things worked out between them and they got the opportunity to see if things would work out, but then life happens and that never happens. This is just that kind of premise that leads off the second novel in her Chapel Springs Romance Series. Jade McKinley has found her way back home again to Chapel Springs after trying for a new adventure in Chicago. But when an innocent date with Nick, a man who frequented her diner lead to a date rape leaving her with an unexpected pregnancy. All she knows is that is where she needs to go to find the help she needs.
The one thing she didn't plan on was running into her childhood friend, Daniel Dawson, who is now the current mayor. But surprisingly he is the only one she can confide in. It seems like things begin to go from bad to worse when the job prospects look slim, her apartment never materializes and her mother suffers from a critical heart attack that renders trying to discuss things with her family on hold for quite a while. But how can you hide your impending pregnancy from the small town she lives in where quite everyone knows everything.
Even Daniel isn't immune to the rumors that begin to fly with his current prospects of running for congressman in Washington D.C. to hang out with a pregnant woman who isn't his wife. His uptight and conservative parents want Daniel to cut all ties with Jade otherwise he won't have much chance to win the election, even though the familiar romantic feelings he has had for Jade is coming on stronger than ever. If he can only convince Jade that he has feeling for her that go deeper than the brotherly ones she shares with him. Will love truly win a place in both their hearts?
I received Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions are strictly my own. I am so addicted to the fictional town of Chapel Springs she has created as well as the small town feel you gain from the people that they interact with. But it is that spark that Daniel has always had for Jade that he never acted upon that wonders if their might be a chance to make something of it when she comes home. Only he never expected things to be quite so complicated with her. But will he be able to overcome his feelings when he learns the circumstances surrounding just how Jade wound up pregnant? You'll have to pick this one up to find out. Now on pins and needles to see just where the third novel will wind up but sooooo looking forward to it! Hands down it gains my Ahhh! romance factor and easily gets a 5 out of 5 stars!
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Posted May 28, 2014
Jade McKinley had big plans for her life. She had moved to Chicago to pursue her dreams. But one seemingly innocent evening changed everything. Now she's headed home to Chapel Springs with a secret she's not going to be able to keep for very long.
The first person she turns to upon arriving in Chapel Springs is Daniel Dawson. He's the safe choice. He's always been there and Jade has looked at him as another big brother. The problem is that Daniel doesn't see Jade in the same way. In fact he's spent the last year trying to put his feelings for her behind him and move on. Then on a random Spring evening Jade unexpectedly shows up on his doorstep. She needs him . . . but only as a friend.
In Dancing With Fireflies we get to experience the divine hand of God at work in two peoples lives. What seems like one traumatic incident after another is used to bring about the perfect outcome at just the right time.
Denise Hunter has the art of sexual tension down! Her love scenes pack some definite heat without crossing the line. If you are interested in an electrified romance search no further. Dancing With Fireflies can certainly be read as a stand alone. But let me just recommend going back and reading Madison and Beckett's story in Barefoot Summer. Then treat yourself to the delightful little novella, A December Bride, that is a nice little bridge between the two novels. Trust me, you won't regret it!
I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
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Posted March 10, 2014
What a lovely story! I was intrigued and sucked in from the very first page. The prologue had me reeling. I can't imagine being in Jade's shoes. The plot is not very exciting or fast paced, but it doesn't need to be because the romance and character development takes it's place.
Poor Jade! One tragedy after another leads her to believe that God is far away from her and doesn't care for her at all. She has spent years protecting her heart, and the author does a great job of showing her tumulous emotions throughout the story. I can relate, on a very personal level, to Jade's feelings. The highs and the lows of suffering a tragedy are hard to capture, and Denise Hunter does a great job of it. Daniel is another matter all together! He has spent years fighting his feelings for Jade. I loved his protective, caring heart. He is the all-American good guy in this story, and I love him for it! The romance between them progressed slowly, at first, and then sped up toward the end, but it seemed natural. They've known each other forever!
The message of the story was my favorite part. God can't direct your path or ease your fears if you don't let him. Even though tragedies happen we, as Christians, are to turn toward God for comfort and strength instead of turning away from Him. The author does a great job of proving that point in Jade's life. Once Jade surrenders to the tender mercy of God, her life falls into place.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. Though it is the second book in the Chapel Springs series, it can definitely be read as a stand-alone. I will definitely be reading more by this author!
*I received this book for free from BookLook blogging program in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.*
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Posted June 29, 2014
I love Ms. Hunter's books. They are an automatic buy for my nook and I recommend them to anybody who asks
about Christian fiction.
A heart-breaking premise, but a lovely resolution. The synopsis above is perfect and I won't spoil your read!!!
Nobody has a perfect life and relationships are work, both truths told here with love, honesty and faith.
I received a digital copy to review, my thoughts are mine alone, but I would have bought this book!
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Posted June 3, 2014
Dancing with Fireflies tells the story of Jade, who returns home after years of protecting her fragile heart. Pregnant via date rape, she reconnects with a childhood friend who teachers her to dance again.
Did I enjoy the book? I did. I was interested and wanted to know what was going to happen. It kept me reading, kept me interested, and kept me thinking. It was an easy read and something I could easily read a few pages of even with children twirling between my legs -- which is important in a house with four young children.
However, can I recommend the book? Not really.
And here's why.
While the book is definitely a Christian book, I found the Christian message to be pretty watered down. The author really straddled the divide when it came to the sexual relationships of her characters. If I had a teenage daughter, I wouldn't let her read this book even though it was "Christian" and basically morally upright.
If I am going to read a secular book, I expect a secular message.
When I am reading a Christian book, while I don't want it to be so overt it is obnoxious, I am expecting some things out of the book.
And I thought Denise Hunter came very close to skipping that altogether.
In addition, I found the book to be a bit predictable. There were no big surprises. Everything got tied up in a nice package.
The author was not amongst the top Christian writers I have read, but I would definitely consider reading her again. I had previously read her book The Convenient Groom and had found it very similar to this book. A good, easy, fun read but nothing spectacular.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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Posted August 27, 2014
This is the first book I've read by Denise Hunter but it won't be the last. The story revolves around Jade who has had a life of sadness when a male is in the mix. There were several children in her family including a set of twins. The first tragedy for her was when a brother. one of the twins, died. Then, her first true love was killed in a car accident. She decided she would never fall in love and needed to leave her hometown by moving to Chicago. Again, she is faced with a terrible incident while in Chicago forcing her to return to her hometown and the family who loves her. Once home she is faced with a lot of decisions which are life altering. It is difficult for me to relate more as I do not want to be a spoiler and give away the entire story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 26, 2014
Posted June 27, 2014
We all fear love whether it’s the intensity of an emotion we don’t understand, the possibility of it inexplicably being erased, or the inability to control any aspect of it. As beings that are created to crave, give, and receive love, we can choose to either embrace it when offered without question, or run from it hoping that it will not further destroy an already shattered heart. If we are lucky enough, we will find a very special, uniquely long-suffering, and deeply fulfilling love that will not only heal the pieces of a shattered heart, but surround it with an impenetrable wall of strength and infuse it with a pure light of adoration. This is story that will bring hope to those whose spirits are disheartened and weary. Let this journey lighten your burden and fill your life with a spark of joy that cannot be explained or easily reasoned away. Open your heart to the good that still lives and breathes in this world around us.
Jade McKinley was considered a free spirit as she followed her heart in everything that she did. Whether it was in the intensity of pursuing her love of music playing her guitar for her students and her local town, or loving her own family with all of her heart, she held nothing back allowing her love to flow from her making her a remarkable and beautiful young lady. She stumbles upon and treasures a beautiful young love in high school, and when it ends in tragedy, her world falls apart and she runs away to forget her broken heart and to start over with an entire new life. Daniel Dawson, the local town mayor, was always considered a part of Jade’s family as they both grew up. She considered him a second brother, but his feelings for her deepened over the years into a love that he never shared with her. He would encourage her from afar, but he never allowed himself anymore because it was never the right time. When she unexpectantly comes back home, Daniel will do everything in his power to watch over and take care of her. However, somewhere along with the way he forgot to guard his heart, and in the process of trying to heal hers, he finds himself more deeply in love with her than ever. Will her fear of loving another person leave her alone and empty the rest of her life, or will Daniel’s gentle and persistent love be enough to break down her heavily guarded heart and show her that loving is worth any risk?
Jade’s story is not an easy one, and it broke my heart to see all that she endured. This gentle soul was suddenly not the happy and easy going girl that she was known for. She became a shadow of herself, and it took all of the love that Daniel held in his heart for her all of those years to pull her back from the brink of fear and emptiness. He was her strength when she had none, he provided for her when she was in need, and he was her heart when she had nothing to more to give. Throughout their breathtaking journey together, their connection of love and respect for each other grows all the while Jade remains blind to it. She refuses to admit and allow herself to see what it in front of her in order to shield herself from further loss of control of her life. It’s only when her world is thrown into complete chaos and pain that she finally understands what is most important.
Jade would not have become who she was without the amazing family and friends that surrounded her. They were her heart and her biggest encouragers. They saw her passion for life and for music, and they wanted her to become all that she was meant to be. Unfortunately, without pain and heartache, we can’t and don’t always appreciate and cherish what is right in front of us. Without the loss of her first love, Jade would not have truly comprehended and treasured the depth, intensity, and endurance of Daniel’s love for her. Her experience with the worst allowed her savor the finest that much more.
Jade represents each of us in our longing to find a love that is designed especially for us. When we search for and find a sweet imitation of that love, we are happy to keep it with us to the end of our days. Unfortunately, at times, that love can be taken away by many means. Our hearts suffer and we feel like we are the walking dead feeling nothing and wanting nothing more to do with love. It is only when we have nothing left that we open our eyes to see the true love that we so desperately sought standing right in front of us. All we have to do is open our arms and surrender ourselves to Him. Then, He will wipe away our tears, and He will reshape our lives into what we were always meant to be.
My first exposure to Denise Hunter was with her novella A December’s Bride, and it literally took my breath away. I knew I found an author who could touch my heart so deeply and sear her words into my soul that I needed to read more from her. You can feel all of the passion and pain of her characters as if you are walking next to them. I wanted so many times to reach out and hold Jade and tell her that things would work out. I also wanted to shake some sense into her to see that Daniel was who she needed and wanted even if she didn’t want to see it. Nothing compares to a story that holds you utterly captivated that you don’t dare look away for fear of missing the revelation of a hidden truth that we have all been utterly blind to. This author has a beautiful trademark of creating not just incredible stories that pull at your heart, but stories that create realistic passion to prove the undeniable attraction that existed between Jade and Daniel. Clean and realistic romance is a much needed and hot market niche right now that is in desperate need of authors like Denise Hunter.
Posted May 19, 2014
I received a copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Yes, yes, and yes!
Jade has left her small hometown of Chapel Springs and moved to Chicago. After one horrible night she finds herself headed back home. Instead of going to her parents, she lands on the doorstep of her love-you-like-a-brother best friend, Daniel. She entrusts him with the truths of her life in Chicago, and the two fall back into their old lives as friends.
I fell in love with this story from the very first chapter. As the story unfolds you find Daniel falling deeply in love with Jade and you start begging Jade to feel the same way. My heart broke for Jade as you learn her back story and the heartache she has experienced in her life. I also found myself hurting for Daniel and the life he had as a child growing up.
This was one of those stories that made you keep reading into the late hours of the night. I had to find out what would happen with Jade and Daniel. The end of this story was so full of suspense, but in the end the most perfect ending of all.
I would definitely recommend this book.
Posted April 22, 2014
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings
The McKinley family takes center stage in another book, but a different daughter tells her story as she is overcoming her past and finding her way. Jade is the daughter that left the small town, ran away, and has come home to find support from her family.
Different from the first book, I wasn't quite certain where this book would end and I loved it. I read this one quicker because I felt more invested in the story and really wanted to find out where Jade would end up. It was also easier to read as I had just finished the first book and knew the characters pretty well. I am hoping that there will be a few more books centered around this family.
Posted April 19, 2014
This book is a de-stressor for me. It's a love story. It's not a simple, feel-good love story, though. It tackles a sensitive topic. Pregnancy out of wedlock is quite common these days but pregnancy out of wedlock caused by an unfortunate incident takes this to another level. It would have been quite a read if this issue was given more focus and handled very well. But no, this is supposed to be a feel-good story that will make the reader dream of her own Daniel.
Yes, every lady would want to have her own Daniel. That man who would love you no matter what and no matter how long he has endured and suppressed his emotion. Plus, it doesn't matter when you have fallen deeply in love with another man years ago and you come home pregnant, broke and beautiful. But Jade is not all that bad. She is actually adorable, why else would Daniel remain in love with her after all these years and still continue on loving her despite her pregnancy? On a personal level (which is very, very subjective on my part), Jade just seemed not capable of doing anything wrong in the eyes of her family and of Daniel. She remains a damsel in distress that should be taken cared for by people around her. Denise Hunter did try to put on some strength in Jade's character. She tried to carry on her predicament secretly (but always relying on Daniel) and there's that perennial reference to a major heartbreak that happened years ago.
Despite all this, I breezed through the novel and didn't try to put it down. It's entertaining. It's a good read when you're in the subway waiting for your your train to arrive. I am sure every woman who has finished reading this would wish to have her own Daniel.
Posted April 17, 2014
Denise Hunter is one of my “go to” authors when I want a romance that tugs at my heart and always leaves me smiling by the end of the book. Dancing with Fireflies is no exception to that. I loved this book!
Dancing with Fireflies is part of the Chapel Springs series. I think you could read this as a stand alone, but it would be so much better to read it as part of the series. Daniel has been a part of Jade’s life for many years. He has always been like a big brother to her and is very much a part of her family. But somewhere along the line, Daniel fell in love with Jade. She was so in love with another man that she never felt the same or realized that Daniel’s feelings had changed.
This book begins with Jade’s return after having been gone an entire year. She is returning home and is pregnant and alone. Daniel still loves her. She still sees him as a best friend. This makes for wonderful tension in the book! There were just so many moments that made me catch my breath and this is one of those books that I stayed up way too late into the night to read!
Denise Hunter weaves love and attraction with feelings of fear and desperation in her stories. She has an amazing ability to create characters so very real. And she creates beautiful happily-ever-afters that tie up her books at the end and leave me with a smile on my face.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
Posted April 10, 2014
Denise Hunter in her new book “Dancing With Fireflies” Book Two in the Chapel Springs Romance series published by Thomas Nelson takes us into the life of Jade McKinley.
From the back cover: Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.
As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt.” Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.
I like the McKinley family and this time the focus is on Jade. She has the perfect name to go with her perfect green eyes. And what more can you say about a young woman who danced on the lawn with fireflies? Jade didn’t feel that Chapel Springs fulfilled her so she left but now, like the Prodigal Daughter, she has to return. This is a good thing for Daniel because he has always been in love with her and feels he has a new chance to be with her. If this is going to work Jade is going to have to heal of all her past hurts so that she can embrace the present and move into the future. “Dancing With Fireflies” is a sweet romance that has the best characters of Jade and Daniel in it. I liked it and look forward to the next visit with the McKinley family.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”
Posted April 7, 2014
I LOVED this book! Loved it!!! I couldn't put it down. It pulled me right in from the beginning and never let me go!
At first I thought this was just going to be another light Christian Romance. It wasn't. There was some serious heartbreak in this book. There were some things from Jade's past holding her back, but there was also something that happened at the beginning of the book that was just terrible that hurt her deeply. It really upset me. Now that I've warned you, I also need to say that there is a lot of humor, love, and friendship, as well as some inspiration in this book too. I appreciated that the inspirational moments felt so natural and added to the story instead of taking away from it. These are the books I always love and can re-read, the ones that pull these strong emotions from me, where I am 100% cheering on the characters and anticipating that happily-ever-after ending.
I loved these characters! Were they perfect? Definitely not. They were human, thank goodness. I didn't always agree with their choices or the direction they were going, but that was okay. In the end they pull it all together even though the journey getting there was a little rough. I just really connected with them. I also loved the McKinley family. They were amazing! They added so much to the story.
Now I'm dying to read the first book in this series and everything else by Denise Hunter! Seriously, if you enjoy reading general Adult Romance or Christian Romance I would highly recommend you grab a copy of Dancing with Fireflies now!!! :)
Content: Clean (There was one non-descriptive instance of date-drug rape and some innuendo, but it was very well handled and I would definitely still consider this very clean. It is an Adult novel.)
Source: I want to thank LitFuse Publicity Group and the publisher, Thomas Nelson Publishers, for my free review copy, which did not affect my opinion in any way.
Posted April 5, 2014
A Chapel Springs Romance
Jade McKinley moved to the big city with big dreams for her future. But things took an ugly twisted turn at least that is how Jade saw her future. When she made the surprised move home she ended up on the doorstep of Daniel Dawson the Mayor of Chapel Springs and childhood friend. He is not just a friend but like part of the McKinley clan and like a big brother but what she doesn't know is that Daniel does not see as a little sister. He would do anything for Jade.
Jade feels bad that she has convinced Daniel to keep her secret. She trusts no one not even God. Daniel is the only person that knows the real reason Jade returned home. She will trust Daniel to help her even though she is having feeling for him and they are not a brother and sister type of feeling which she finds kind of wierd.
In this story God played a big roll in orchestrating the McKinley's and the Dawson's families lives to create his plan for Jade and Daniel.
Denise Hunter keeps writing these amazing stories that I am unable to set aside. It did not take me very long to read this book. It had heartache, trials and tribulation, reconciliation, blossoming love, and a family that loved beyond all expectation. It had me needing to grab a tissue one page and then laughing the next. I loved the fact that Jade's family loved unconditional. Then on the other hand Daniel's family was not nurturing at all except for his grandmother that raised him with love.
Keep the stories coming Denise I can't wait to read what you have brewing in your head as it all comes together for us greedy readers to enjoy.
I highly recommend this book.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson/Litfuse Publicity Group for review. I was in no way compensated for this review.
Posted April 2, 2014
I really liked the style in which Dancing with Fireflies was written (* complimentary review copy was provided. all opinions expressed are my own.). The focus on character development is around the two primary characters, with those around them developed mostly to help further define the main characters. The book jumps right into the story, using reflection and conversations to help the reader 'catch up' on the background, history and the different relationships. This occurs not just in the opening chapters, but throughout the story. Even though this is the second book in the series, there is no need to have read the first book to understand the second. At the same time, it doesn't rehash the first story in the series either.
The characters are hard not to like. I love how their relationship evolves slowly from that of distrust and dislike to one of trust and friendship to even more. As an outsider, it certainly seems obvious how each feels, but they have to slowly come to realize the attraction. This helps make it feel more real and the story more believable.
I really enjoyed reading this book and was able to read it in a relatively short window. I read it in only a couple of days...I would have been done sooner, but as a om, I do have actual responsibilities that tore me away from the story.
I would recommend Dancing With Fireflies to anyone looking for a enjoyable, love story.
Posted March 31, 2014
An irresistible, endearing story!
I could hardly put this one down! What a lovely, lovely, story. Dancing with Fireflies greatly exceeded all my expectations. I loved it. Absolutely brilliant! Hunter's characters jump off the page, feeling as real as you or me. This trait is important to me as a reader and Hunter executes it wonderfully. I thought I liked Barefoot Summer well enough, but Dancing with Fireflies takes number one slot for the series so far. It will be hard for me to like The Wishing Season (coming Winter '14!) better than this one.
Jade annoyed me at times, but I think she was supposed to. She did some stupid things, though I cannot say someone in her position wouldn't do the same. I admired her determination to rise above her circumstances and take on responsibility. In fact, she rose to the challenge despite her fatigue.
Daniel is the dependable, tender friend that Jade needed. I always thought they would be a good couple, even before Jade knew. I loved how their relationship was built on years of friendship. All in all, I liked the guy. It helped that we have similar tastes in music... *ahem*
Dancing with Fireflies blew me away. I loved every page! Plus, who doesn't mind a trip to Chapel Springs or a visit with the McKinleys? It was fantastic to see Beckett and Madison tie the knot and equally fantastic to see PJ and Ryan again. I look forward to whichever McKinley is up next!
I received this book from Thomas Nelson through Litfuse in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!
Posted March 30, 2014
I always enjoy Denise Hunter's books and this one is no exception. She finds a way to tell Jade and Daniel's story so anyone can relate even if you haven't been in their exact shoes. People don't often comment on the cover or title of the book but in this case I want to take the time to say how much I love both. If you've ever spent a summer night running around catching fireflies and taken a moment to appreciate how beautiful a night like that can be then you can't help but love the title and cover chosen for this book. Then you read this amazing story and it's impossible to find anything short of wonderful!
After reading and reviewing Barefoot Summer I have been patiently waiting for this book to come out! While this is the second in her Chapel Springs Romance series you can read this without having read Barefoot Summer but I'd encourage you to check out that one as well because it's a great read. While this book does cover some sensitive issues I believe Denise Hunter did a wonderful job handling it. I will say that I am a sucker for a story in which the guy has been in love with the girl for years and instead of telling her he continued to act like a brother. Thankfully guys/boys grow into men and usually gather the courage to admit how they've felt all along. I hope you all enjoy Jade and Daniel's story as much as I did and I can't wait to see what Denise Hunter has in store for us next!
I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.