Just a Kiss

Just a Kiss

4.6 15
by Denise Hunter
     
 

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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

Overview

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?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/15/2016
Fans of Hunter's Summer Harbor series (The Goodbye Bride, etc.) have been waiting for Riley—the third Callahan brother—to finally tell his longtime best friend, Paige, that he's been in love with her for years. But his return from Afghanistan complicates matters: severely wounded in battle, Riley must now face life as an amputee. Though he tries to put distance between himself and Paige, believing he's not worthy of her now, his family has arranged for him to stay with her during his convalescence. Their proximity causes all sorts of romantic fireworks as Paige begins to realize her own attraction to her best friend. But PTSD and Paige's own emotional wounds from the past prove to be significant challenges for these two well-written characters. Hunter balances the dark side of love and war with a winning combination: realistically exploring the role that faith plays in healing, deftly creating a potent romance, and giving significant space for the lively and lovable supporting cast of Summer Harbor friends. Fans will be sad to see the Callahans say goodbye, but this tale of recovery and bravery is a fine parting gift. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780718023751
Publisher:
Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
09/06/2016
Series:
A Summer Harbor Novel Series
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
49,501
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Just A Kiss

A Summer Harbor Novel


By Denise Hunter

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2016 Denise Hunter
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-2377-5


CHAPTER 1

Paige Warren checked her watch, then peeked around Miss Trudy's silver head for the dozenth time. Riley's plane had landed, and the steady stream of passengers moving toward Bangor Airport's baggage claim had begun to dwindle.

Beau and Zac Callahan, Riley's black-haired brothers, stood just alike a few feet away, muscular arms crossed, broad stances, faces set as they scanned the unfamiliar faces.

"Shouldn't he be here by now?" Paige fiddled with the ring hanging from her necklace.

"Stop your worrying," Miss Trudy said. "He'll be out soon."

Stop her worrying? She'd done nothing but worry since the midnight call three weeks ago. Beau's words had sent her heart into palpitations, and it hadn't stopped racing since.

Miss Trudy grabbed Paige's hand, stilling it. Only then did she realize she'd been frantically zinging the ring on her necklace back and forth.

"You're about to drive me up the wall with your fidgeting."

"I can't help it. I won't feel okay until I see he's okay."

"He's coming home," Miss Trudy said. "It's going to be fine."

"Yeah, but —"

"Don't borrow trouble. Beau said he was in good spirits, and we should thank the good Lord he's coming home at all."

"I know. I know you're right."

Who would've thought when Riley left for Afghanistan fifteen months ago he'd be coming home in June? And like this? There'd been so many decisions and arrangements to make since the phone call, and Paige had taken on the lion's share. It had soothed her to be doing something.

Riley was a strong man — always had been — but she couldn't imagine anyone taking this in stride. There were big adjustments ahead, but she was determined to be there for her best friend every step of the way, just as he'd been there for her through every difficulty she'd faced since she was fourteen — especially the death of her father. Riley had spent many nights just listening as she tried to untangle the knots of unresolved anger.

"Where is he?" Beau wandered back over. In his shadow was Zac, towering over them all.

"Y'all are starting to make me nervous with all your fidgeting and pacing," Miss Trudy said.

Beau slipped his arm over his aunt's shoulders. "Everyone's out. He should be here."

"Maybe he didn't make the flight," Paige said. The thought made her stomach sink like an anchor. The past few weeks of waiting had been torture for all of them. Beau had wanted to fly to Germany to be with his brother, but Riley insisted he stay.

"He'll be here." Zac ran a hand over his tightly trimmed beard. He looked almost out of place without Lucy at his side. The two had been joined at the hip since their fall wedding.

Between Zac and Lucy's recent nuptials and Beau and Eden's engagement, Paige was feeling a little fifth-wheelish lately. It'd be good to have her Riley back home. Nothing had felt quite right since he'd left. She had girlfriends, sure. But no one who knew and understood her like Riley.

It might be touch-and-go for a while, she reminded herself. She couldn't expect the old Riley to come strutting around the corner. She'd done some research and, despite what Beau said about his brother's spirits, she expected some fallout. It was time for her to be the strong one.


* * *

Riley Callahan gave the attractive brunette his most charming smile as she pushed an empty wheelchair down the Jetway toward him. She was tall, slender, about his age, and heck, the sight of any female was a treat these days. She reached the bottom of the Jetway where he waited in the onboard wheelchair.

"Mr. Callahan? I'm here to assist you." Her professional tone matched her bland expression.

His lips drooped at her flat-eyed smile.

Reality check, idiot. Girls don't dig guys in wheelchairs.

A month ago her response would've been different. She might've even flirted with him. Maybe tried to slip him her number. All that was different now. People saw the chair first and then him. And the him they saw was the same him he saw in the mirror.

She wheeled the chair beside him and set the brakes. "Need some help?"

"I got it." Taking a deep breath, he made the awkward transition to the chair, his arm muscles tightening under his weight. He gritted his teeth against the pain as his body finally settled in place.

During the transfer his duffel fell, landing right beside his dignity. The bag he retrieved; the other was gone for good.

"You comfortable, sir?"

"Fine. Thanks."

He'd slept two hours last night, his leg was aching like a son of a gun, and he was stuffed into a wheelchair like an invalid. Not to mention a woman was tending to him. Everything about that seemed backward.

She released the brakes on his chair and set it in motion, pushing it up the Jetway.

At least he was off the plane. The trip to the lavatory in the onboard wheelchair had been humiliating. In between, people thanked him for his service, for his sacrifice. He'd wanted to crawl under the seats.

As they reached the gate, the cool whoosh of air-conditioning brushed his skin. Good old US of A. He was home. Back in Maine. His family was waiting just down the way. His brothers. His aunt. Paige. For months he'd ached to see them — especially Paige.

But not like this.

His chest tightened, his breathing was as labored as if he'd just run a marathon. Ha. Wouldn't be doing that anytime soon. He'd be lucky to reach hobbling status, and not even that without months of painful therapy. His eyes dropped to his legs.

Leg.

The trouser leg on his right side drooped into the hollow space where his knee used to be. Now the leg ended in a grotesque stump that alternately ached and itched. The past three weeks had been a nightmare. The surgery, the painful recovery. The nightmares. His emotions teetered on edge, dark thoughts pushing him deeper into the shadows.

Just coming home was an act of courage. He didn't want them to see him like this. Didn't want Paige to see him like this. Who knew when he left that he'd return half a man?

He tightened his fingers on the metal armrests, swallowing against the hard lump in his throat. A sweat broke out on his back and forehead. The bleak thoughts threatened to take him under, and he fought them with everything he had.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

The words had been beaten into him for fifteen months. Had gotten him through some pretty bad stuff. But they did little to help him now.

Come on, man. Buck up. You can't let them see you like this.

His brothers had spent all this time worrying over him, all because he'd been stupid enough to enlist on the heels of their dad's death. On the heels of —

No. He couldn't think about that now. Suffice it to say he'd left for all the wrong reasons. But that was his own doing. His family had already been through enough.

The wheelchair bumped over something, jostling his leg. He winced, his hand moving over the left pocket of his trousers where he kept her picture. His heart thudded at the realization that he was about to see her, and not her image on Skype. It seemed like an eternity since he'd looked into her sea-blue eyes. Since he'd heard the feminine lilt of her voice or breathed in her sweet, flowery smell.

If things had gone differently, he'd be anticipating their reunion. He'd be strutting toward her on his own two legs, anxious to tell her the truth as he'd planned. But one IED had changed everything. Now his only plan revolved around figuring out how to put some space between them without hurting her feelings.

CHAPTER 2

Is that your family?" the woman pushing Riley's chair asked.

His eyes darted toward the baggage claim entrance where his family clustered. He set his shoulders back, lifting his hand. Made his lips widen to a full-fledged smile, made sure his eyes crinkled at the corners like they were supposed to.

Beau waved back, his other arm curling tightly around Aunt Trudy. Zac grinned, a tall shadow behind them. Riley's eyes slid to Paige, and his breath left his body.

Man, she was even more beautiful than he remembered. Her silky hair was blonder and longer, and he'd forgotten the way her subtle curves softened her athletic build. The sight of her tanned legs stirred up thoughts he had no business thinking.

She cupped her hand around her mouth, her eyes tearing up as he rolled closer.

When he was still a car's length away, she leaped forward, falling onto her knees. Her arms came around his neck, and the soft weight of her melted into him.

He held her close, his eyes falling shut. In an instant it was just the two of them. Old times. Kindred spirits. Callahan and Warren. Man, he'd missed her. He pulled in a deep breath of her. Flowers. Sunshine. Home. He buried his nose in her hair and soaked her in, remembering every night he'd lain in his rack staring at her picture, longing for a moment just like this.

His throat emitted a choking sound, and he disguised it with a hearty laugh. Forced energy into his voice. "Hey, now. What's all this, Warren? You're not crying, are you? You know you go straight to the ugly cry."

Paige leaned back, swatting his shoulder as she surreptitiously wiped her eyes. "I missed you, you big lug. Are you in pain? Can I get your meds for you?"

Great, more fussing. "Naw, took some on the plane. I'm good. Wicked awesome."

Beau reached in, edging out Paige. He grasped Riley's hand in a bro-grip. "Good to have you home, brother. You had us awful worried there."

"Good to be home. Man, is it ever."

Zac ruffled his hand over Riley's high and tight haircut. "Can't even tousle your hair anymore. What fun is that?"

"Hey, Zac." Riley smiled up at him. "Good to see your ugly mug. Gotta say, though, you're practically a giant from down here."

"All the more reason to get you back on your feet."

"Hello ...?" Aunt Trudy said from the back. "I know I'm just the lowly aunt, but do I get a turn?"

Riley aimed a smile her way, reaching out. "Get over here, Aunt Trudy."

She slipped between Paige and Beau and embraced him. She smelled like lemons and starch. Her narrow shoulders and thin arms felt frail, but her size was misleading. She could stop an army with a mere look.

"Lord have mercy, you're wider than the chair. Did your muscles grow muscles?"

"Something like that," he said as she pulled away.

"How was your flight?" Beau asked. "Get any rest?"

Riley glanced at Paige as she dabbed at the corners of her eyes again. "Little bit." He shot Aunt Trudy a look. "What I could really do with is one of your big ol' roasts. Sooner the better."

"Lucky for you, I've got one in the Crock-Pot at Paige's house."

"And corn bread, mashed potatoes, plus Paige's pecan pie," Zac added.

Riley palmed his stomach. "Oh, man, you're killing me. Between the MREs, the hospital food, and the airline chow, it's hard to say which was worse."

"Did you check any bags?" Aunt Trudy asked, moving behind his chair and releasing the brakes.

"Just my chair. I gotta give this one back." He clapped his hands once. "All right. Let's get this show on the road. I can't wait to get home, eat some good chow, and sleep in my own bed." He rented a room at the back of the Roadhouse, Zac's restaurant. It wasn't much, but it was his.

Zac and Beau froze, trading glances. Paige shifted, and Aunt Trudy started rooting through her purse for something.

A cloud of unease bloomed in his gut. "What? What am I missing?"

"Um ..." Zac didn't quite meet his eyes. "Your old room isn't exactly there anymore. I expanded the kitchen over the winter. Lucy and I were planning to let you have our guest room upstairs when you came home, but ..." His eyes bounced off Riley's leg.

Yeah. Not on one leg. Sure, he might be able to manage on his crutches, but moving was painful and cumbersome, and the last thing he needed was a nasty fall to set him back even further.

His stomach deflated like a week-old party balloon. So much for the privacy of his room. "Guess I'm staying at the farmhouse then. That'll work just fine."

Their aunt had broken her leg a while back, and they'd made the formal dining room into a bedroom. He tried not to let the thought of being fussed over 24/7 bleed into his expression.

"Um, yeah ..." Zac rubbed the back of his neck. "The farmhouse is kind of under construction at the moment." He gave Riley a look that made all kinds of red flags wave.

"We just started renovating," Beau said. "Aunt Trudy's wedding gift to Eden and me. The whole downstairs is a wreck at the moment."

"It won't be finished for a month at least," Aunt Trudy said.

"No worries, though." Paige patted his shoulder. "I told them from the beginning I wanted you at my place. I've got that nice master suite on the main floor. It's perfect. The old doorframes are nice and wide, and your brothers have already built a ramp and put in handicap bars ..."

Everything faded as his thoughts spun. He was staying with Paige? His eyes flew to Zac, who was sending him some kind of telepathic apology, then back to Paige, whose words died off — probably at the look on his face.

Her eyes clouded with confusion. "Is — is that not okay? You want to stay someplace else?" A flicker of hurt flashed in the blue depths, but she shut it down quickly, covering with a smile he'd known her too long to buy.

Darn it. He was trapped. He forced a smile, crinkle lines and all. "Yeah. I mean no. That's great. Wicked awesome. But I can't take your room. I'll sleep on the couch or something."

She straightened. "You will not. I've already moved my stuff upstairs. It's a done deal."

His eyes flickered off Zac before returning to Paige. He held the smile, not an easy feat with his jaw knotted as tight as a dock line on a cleat. "You're a pal, Warren. Hey, why don't you guys go get the car, and Zac can help me with the chair. We'll meet you out front in a few."

Moving behind him, Zac edged Aunt Trudy aside. "Sooner we get home, sooner we get a taste of that roast."

"That's what I'm thinking," Riley said.

The others headed toward the exit, and Zac set the chair in motion. Riley rubbed his mouth with the tips of his trembling fingers, trying to calm the rising storm. How was he going to spend the next however many weeks cooped up with Paige?

But what choice did he have? Wasn't like he had a pile of cash in the bank for his own place. And even if he did, he was nowhere near ready for total independence-much as he'd like to deny it.

Just the thought of her fussing over him, helping him with clothes and all the other things he still needed help with ...

God, are You trying to kill me here? Can't I have just a little dignity? Would that be too much to ask?

So much for his plans to put space between them. He'd be trapped in the six hundred square feet of the bungalow's main floor. With Paige.

This was all Zac's fault. He squeezed the metal armrests until his hands ached. He worked to get himself under control as he watched his family exit the building. Then he turned to Zac.

"What the heck were you thinking? I'm staying with Paige? Do you have any idea what you've done?"

"Whoa, now." Zac stopped in front of the moving baggage carousel. "First of all, it was a group decision, so it's not like —"

"But you're the only one who knows. I thought you had my six, man."

"It's not like there were so many other options, Riley."

"Any option is better than this!"

"All right, calm down. I get it, this isn't what you were expecting." Zac set the brakes. "But maybe you could look at it as an opportunity, you know?"

"An opportunity for what? To have Paige help me with my gory dressings, help me get in the shower, take care of me like a flipping invalid? Is that the kind of opportunity you had in mind? Because I'm pretty sure my pride's already in the toilet, but maybe if we try a little harder, it can sink even lower."

A curtain of guilt closed over Zac's face. He grabbed the folded wheelchair from the moving carousel and set it up. "You've been through a lot, I get it. But she's your friend, and she wants to help. Shoot, actually being able to help feels a lot better than having you hurting thousands of miles away and not being able to do a thing. Maybe this could bring the two of you closer together. Maybe this is your chance."

Riley gave a humorless laugh. "Yeah, just what she always wanted. A cripple."

Something flickered in Zac's eyes. "You're the same person you've always been, Riley."

Not even close. Not on the outside, and sure as heck not on the inside. He pressed his lips tight before it came spilling out. Nothing would ever be the same. Paige deserved the best, and that sure wasn't him.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Just A Kiss by Denise Hunter. Copyright © 2016 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.

Meet the Author

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys. You can learn more about Denise through her website DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her FaceBook page at facebook.com/authordenisehunter

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Just a Kiss 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
BrittanyMc 5 days ago
I have been anticipating this story since reading the very first book of the Summer Harbor series…and it did not disappoint! Riley and Paige had been best friends since childhood, yet Riley’s feeling for Paige changed from friendship to love many years ago. It was heartbreaking to see him struggling with his feelings during the previous two books, while Paige had no idea the pain she was causing him! He even enlisted in the Marines to get away from the pain of watching Paige date his brother! But reading this story was something of a fresh start for these two characters. It was so hard to watch as Riley struggled to find his place in the world again as an amputee. It was fascinating to read about what he had to go through both physically, mentally, and emotionally. The author also did a great job of sharing what Paige was going through as she watched Riley come to terms with what he could and could not do. This book was absolutely packed with wonderful romantic tension, some amazing kisses, and so much heart! Both characters struggled with the paths their lives had taken and whether God had really been there for them throughout the challenging times. Just a Kiss was a wonderful, contemporary romance, yet it delved deeper still…exploring hurt, trauma, and defining the meaning of true love. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
BH 5 days ago
Just a Kiss, written by Denise Hunter, is book 3 of the Summer Harbor Series. This series continues with the Callahan family stories. This book is about Riley Callahan as he returns from combat in Affgahanastan after suffering from a terrible injury. He comes home with multiple wounds, but mainly a wound that he thinks cannot be healed...a lost love. My favorite character of this story is Riley...He's a tough Marine, big guy with a big ego and an even bigger heart. He takes so much on himself because he doesn't fell like he's good enough after returning to Summer Harbor with all of his wounds...physical and mental. He doesn't want to give in so he makes decisions that he thinks are best for everyone instead of making them only for himself. Hunter doesn't take the inspirational part of the story too far, but just enough to let people realize how much we need to depend on the Lord through all the struggles of life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its romantic touches and inspirational splashes. It's definitely not lacking in either! I was gifted this book in exchange for my honest review.
RomanticReadsandSuch 5 days ago
When you see that a book is part of a series that you've not been reading, you're always taking a chance that the book isn't a true stand alone. I almost always take the chance unless there is a clear indication otherwise - sometimes it works out really well, sometimes not out all, and sometimes I'm mostly OK. This is definitely that last one. Technically I think you could say that this one is a stand lone, but it seems like you would have a better understanding of Paige, Riley and their relationship if you'd read the other stories. They've been friends for a long time and I get the feeling that this story was one in the making for a while. Paige loves Riley but doesn't see him in a romantic light. Riley on the other hand has had deeper feelings for years and being around Paige while she's dating his brother is more than he can handle. So he enlists in the Marines, only to come home injured in body and spirit. He has a lot of issues trying to acclimate to his new situation, dealing with his feelings over what happened to him overseas, and spending a large amount of time with Paige. It's hard to see him struggle so - you know that he needs to get professional help but he's not in a mind to do it. Paige is trying her best to be understanding but it's hard as the time spent with her friend has her looking at him with new eyes. You get a good feel for her conflict - not just with the new romantic feelings but also with trying to help someone that doesn't want it. I really think that Hunter does a fantastic job with the resolution of Paige and Riley's feelings, his issues and their futures. It's not an easy road for them but they have friends, family and their faith to see them through it. (Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review)
GailHollingsworth 6 days ago
The third and final book in the Summer Harbor series had the emotions going up and down. I've read this one and the second one in this series but each can be read as a standalone. The two main characters, Paige and Riley, were best friends. Riley helped Paige through some tumultuous times growing up. She lost her dad then her "Mom" abandoned her. Paige never felt wanted. Everyone she cared about deserted her. Even Riley left and joined the Marines. Only he came back home having lost one of his legs from a bomb attack. Riley was fighting the demons of war, PTSD, survivors guilt, and loss all while going through pain, both physical and emotional. And Paige never feeling good enough, was dealing with the possible closing of her beloved animal shelter because of finances. God had never abandoned either one of them but it took a long time for them to realize this. I quickly came to care about both of these characters. They were so real to me. I felt their pain and cried right along with them. When Riley decides to move 1200 miles away from Summer Harbor I wondered if he and Paige would ever reveal their feelings for each other and get their "happily ever after". Some books go very slowly for me but this one I read in a matter of two days. It made my heart happy! I received an ebook copy of this book through Net Galley for my honest opinion, which I have given.
mackenzie_carol 8 days ago
Just a Kiss is the third book in Denise Hunter’s Summer Harbor series, coming after Falling Like Snowflakes and The Goodbye Bride. I am such a HUGE fan of Denise’s, and actually own, and have loved, both of the previous books in this series. Over the past year or so, Denise has become one of my auto-buy authors, meaning I don’t even have to look at her upcoming releases before preordering them because I know I will love them, and this series has proved that fact true. I’ve preordered all three books, and absolutely loved each one of them, though I have to say, I think this one is my favorite. Just a Kiss is completely and utterly fantastic, and I’m so glad I own my own copy. Riley Callahan has hid his feelings for his best friend Paige for years, but when she starts dating his brother Beau, it is more than he can bear. Trying to escape his misery, he enlists in the marines, only to have his life turned completely upside down. Now returning home an amputee, Riley deems himself unworthy of Paige, and therefore plans on keeping their relationship distant, especially since she and Beau are no longer a couple. However, his plans are thwarted when he arrives to find out his brothers have left him in her care until he recovers. Will Riley retreat even further, closing of his wounded heart for good, or will he let God take over, healing him heart and soul? Paige Warren is a born caregiver, and is thrilled at the chance to be there her best friend the way he’s been there for her over the years. When Riley first arrives, it almost seems as if nothing has changed, but it doesn’t take Paige long to realize that is not the case. His happy attitude may be enough to fool his family, but she knows him better than that. As she tries to juggle Riley’s care and her beloved animal shelter job that is in serious jeopardy, Paige begins to notice Riley in a way she never has before. Is she simply falling for another Callahan brother, or is God working on something behind the scenes that will change their relationship forever? All in all, I absolutely loved this story, and I can’t think of a single thing that I didn’t like about it. Denise’s writing was flawless, I was already in love with Riley and I effortlessly fell for Paige as well, the storyline was perfectly woven together, and I was captivated from beginning to end. Because of that, I cannot imagine giving Just a Kiss anything other than all five bookshelves, and it most definitely has a permanent place on my all-time favorites list. This book reminded me why I am such a big fan of Denise’s, and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next! (This review is from my blog, spreadinghisgrace.blogspot.com)
Ellen-oceanside 10 days ago
This is the third book in The Summer.Harbor series. Though I hadn't read the others this is easy to read by itself. We have Riley who joins the marines for all the wrong reasons . To come home as an amputee. Seeing Paige,again, the love is stronger than ever. He plans to distance, and allow her to find a whole man to love her. Plans were made for him to stay at her bungalow, for it had a downstairs bedroom. The nursemaid would then be Paige. This is a natural avenue for her, for she has the animal shelter. Funding is needed to keep it open. As well as patience and understanding for Riley. Great story of adjustment for both Paige and Riley. As usual another good story by Denise Hinter for all to enjoy. Given ARC by Net Galley for my honest opinion, of which I have given
Ellen-oceanside 10 days ago
This is the third book in The Summer.Harbor series. Though I hadn't read the others this is easy to read by itself. We have Riley who joins the marines for all the wrong reasons . To come home as an amputee. Seeing Paige,again, the love is stronger than ever. He plans to distance, and allow her to find a whole man to love her. Plans were made for him to stay at her bungalow, for it had a downstairs bedroom. The nursemaid would then be Paige. This is a natural avenue for her, for she has the animal shelter. Funding is needed to keep it open. As well as patience and understanding for Riley. Great story of adjustment for both Paige and Riley. As usual another good story by Denise Hinter for all to enjoy. Given ARC by Net Galley for my honest opinion, of which I have given
Ellen-oceanside 10 days ago
This is the third book in The Summer.Harbor series. Though I hadn't read the others this is easy to read by itself. We have Riley who joins the marines for all the wrong reasons . To come home as an amputee. Seeing Paige,again, the love is stronger than ever. He plans to distance, and allow her to find a whole man to love her. Plans were made for him to stay at her bungalow, for it had a downstairs bedroom. The nursemaid would then be Paige. This is a natural avenue for her, for she has the animal shelter. Funding is needed to keep it open. As well as patience and understanding for Riley. Great story of adjustment for both Paige and Riley. As usual another good story by Denise Hinter for all to enjoy. Given ARC by Net Galley for my honest opinion, of which I have given
Jaquelyn 13 days ago
Just a Kiss is the third book in the Summer Harbor series. I haven't read Falling Like Snowflakes, but did read the Goodbye Bride. After reading this book I would love to go back and read the first book in the series. That being said this book is also a great stand alone novel. I love reading stories about families. The Summer Harbor Series is about the Callahan brothers as they find their way to their happy endings. Their lives haven't been easy, and with Riley injured in Afghanistan everyone is on edge waiting for him to get home. Just a Kiss follows Riley the youngest Callahan brother, and the girl who has been his best friend since they were kids, Paige. Paige wants nothing more than to hug her best friend in the whole world. When they last saw each other it wasn't the best circumstances and she can't wait to see for herself that he is okay. Knowing that he is coming home missing a limb isn't easy on anyone, and Paige wants nothing more than to take care of the man who's always been there for her. Knowing it isn't going to be easy doesn't bother her one bit. Will Riley let her be the help he needs? Or will his manly foolish pride and stubbornness get in the way? Riley wasn't planning on coming home this way. Not only is he embarrassed, but also in a great deal of pain. He had planned on his homecoming being way different, and can't help but feel like he is half the man he used to be. Being around Paige, the girl he's loved since they were teenagers is pure torture. He knows she deserves a better man than he is, and doesn't want her to know how he feels. Living under the same roof isn't helping matters. No one wants to be seen at their worst, and Riley doesn't see how life can get worse than it is now. Can Paige get through to him, or will he just keep stuffing everything down deep inside? I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a more complicated love story. One where the main characters face troubles and come out stronger in the end. Real love isn't perfect, and sometimes your heart needs to break a little before you understand what true love is. I really enjoyed getting to know Riley and Paige and couldn't help but root for them the whole time. Hunter had me laughing one minute, and groaning in frustration the next. I also enjoyed learning more about some of the struggles our brave men and women face when they return home after war. Who doesn't love a story with a big strong military man? I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.
onemused 17 days ago
"Just a Kiss" is a stand-alone book about the relationship between Riley and Paige. Riley and Paige have been best friends for a long time. Riley has known he had feelings for her for years, but Paige has always been clueless. He is returning from the war as an amputee, unsure how to put himself together and deal with his feelings about the war or about Paige. Paige finds her feelings about her best friend evolving the more time they spend together. She has always sought to belong to his loving family as hers has been a bit of a disaster. She needs time to decide whether she's in love with Riley or what he represents to her. Both Paige and Riley's stories are punctuated by struggles. Riley is grappling with the loss of his leg and how much that means for him and his life, as well as PTSD/haunting memories and nightmares from the things he experienced during the war. Paige has worked for a long time to build up a no-kill shelter which is going to be shut down unless she can find a way to cut costs and raise money to support it. She is also still dealing with her difficult relationship with her mother, who has pretty much been absent since her father died six years ago. Regardless, the first 75% of the book is focused on the build up of how they feel about each other and will they/won't they sentiments. The last 25% deals with their personal issues and how they need to address those before they can really be the person the other one needs. Their story is also mirrored by Riley's Aunt Trudy and her long lost love who is persistently chasing her despite her reluctance and resistance to their relationship (due to past events and what she thinks is "good" for him). The book is covered in struggles and UST (unresolved sexual tension). It's very clean though- you won't get more than a few passionate kisses. Overall, I liked the book and felt for the characters, but I often felt myself frustrated with their seemingly way-too-prolonged struggles. I would have been a bit happier with it ending at about 3/4 of the way through, but I do realize they needed to deal with the other issues plaguing their lives. However, the main focus of the book was definitely their attraction and potential relationship. I liked them both as characters and felt it easy to read about their lives and get invested in them. Please note that I received this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
VelvaB 18 days ago
Just a Kiss – Denise Hunter I have read and LOVED all the books in the Summer Harbor series, and I have loved each and every one! I am a huge Denise Hunter fan! Just a Kiss is Riley and Paige’s story. I am going to leave it at that. You can read the back of the cover to see what the story is about. One of the things I enjoyed most is the theme of believing and defeating the lies the enemy tells us about ourselves. Both Riley and Paige have lies they believe about themselves. (We all do!) I love the story of how they overcome these lies. One funny thing – I am from the south. I kept trying to “read” with that northeastern accent. Hmmm…..to me….I prefer the southern accent! Buy the book! If you haven’t read the other 2 in the series, read them first! WHAT A GREAT READ! I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.
jacksonmomLV 18 days ago
I enjoyed this last book in the Summer Harbor series, but honestly, I kept thinking "How many problems could be solved if people just talked OPENLY about their feelings?!" The beautiful cover leaves no doubt that this third Callahan brother's story will end happily ever after, but along the way, Hunter touches on some painful subjects not common in love stories. Riley returns home from Afghanistan missing half a leg and suffering from PTSD. Paige has endured a childhood of emotional abuse from her dad's wife, and it seems she's not quite done yet. Both value their lifelong friendship so much that they don't want to endanger it by revealing their growing romantic feelings toward each other. A bachelor auction, a wedding reception kiss, and more misunderstandings than you can shake a stick at soon follow. Dear, irascible Aunt Trudy holds the key to "fixing" this romantic tangle when she finally admits to her mistakes with sweetheart Danny Colton all those years ago. "I thought I was doing what was best for him....Shows what I knew. We spent a lifetime apart because I made his decision for him." Suddenly Riley realizes he's lost a leg, not his life, and he returns home to face his feelings for Paige. And what better setting for their reunion than...another wedding?! If you haven't read the first two books in this series about brothers Zac and Beau, take time to enjoy them first, and this final story will mean even more to you.
Anonymous 20 days ago
Great book. Couldn't put it down! Sweet and charming!
Rhondaz 22 days ago
Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter....This is an amazing sweet, loving and clean book. I absolutely loved this story, I could not put it down. The characters are so well written and likeable you feel like they are part of your family that you feel their happiness and pain. Riley and Paige have always been best friends, but both love each more. Will these two be able to get past the friend zone and make a relationship, you will have to read to find out. This is my first book by Denise Hunter and I can't wait to read more by her. I was given a complimentary book by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
SusanSnodgrassBookworm 24 days ago
Denise Hunter finishes up her Summer Harbor series with the last Callahan brother's Story. Riley has returned from the Middle East an amputee, unsure of himself and wondering what to do now that he's home. Especially wondering how he's going to face Paige Warren, the woman he's loved since they were teenage best friends. But so much has changed. Then he learned that, due to renovations at his family's house, he is going to be Paige's houseguest until those renos are finished! Paige tries everything in her power to make Riley's transition home a success, but she hears his nightmares, sees his struggles to cope with his disability and her heart breaks for him. But soon, she begins to feel more for her ' best friend' and tries valiantly to squash those feelings. They've been best friends forever, right? As these two try to come to terms with their feelings for each other and Riley tries to find his place now with his disability, old feelings come to the front, and they each deal with their own heartaches. Can they trust each other to understand? Will they both trust God and allow Him to work in their lives? Denise Hunter has been a favorite of mine for many years. She is a wonderful writer and the spiritual lesson here is profound. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to her next one. *I was provided with a copy of this book by Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. (less)