A year’s worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.
What started as a whim turned into an accidental—and very public—engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the façade in Chapel Springs this holiday season—for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?
Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy—the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiancé—would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency—a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map.
Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client.
For Layla, it's the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it's his last chance to win her heart.
“Denise Hunter knows how to warm up an inspirational romance with sizzling chemistry. You’ll fall in love with this December wedding story!” —Kristin Billerbeck, bestselling author of What a Girl Wants
About the Author
Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Carol 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 rapidly approaching an empty nest. You can learn more about Denise through her website DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her Facebook page, AuthorDeniseHunter.
Read an Excerpt
A Year of Weddings Novella
By Denise Hunter
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2013 Denise Hunter
All rights reserved.
Layla O'Reilly squeezed into a corner of the bustling kitchen of Cappy's Pizzeria and leaned into the receiver.
"No, no, no. You cannot cancel on me now. The wedding's in five hours. Five hours, Cooper." She wound the spiral cord around her fist, a sweat breaking out on her forehead.
"Don't even tell me you have to work. I asked you over a month ago. You said you got the night off."
"If you'd just let me talk. I have strep, Layla. I'm contagious. I have to be on an antibiotic for at least twenty-four hours before—"
"I'll risk it." She didn't care if he had malaria. She was going to this wedding, and she was going with a date. Nothing said See, I've moved on like an attractive man draped on your arm.
"I feel like trash. I have a 102-degree fever and barbed wire in my throat."
Layla took a deep breath, the familiar aromas of garlic and oregano filling her nose. She couldn't believe this was happening. "Now that you mention it, you don't sound so good."
"I'm sorry," he said. "I know tonight's a big deal."
She closed her eyes. "It's not your fault. The strep or the wedding." She banged the receiver against her temple once, twice, three times. "I'll bring you chicken soup tomorrow."
"My sister's already on it; don't worry about it. What are you going to do about tonight?"
"I don't know."
"Just don't go. You don't need them."
"My whole family will be there."
"This isn't about your family and you know it," he said. "This is about you having something to prove."
She knotted her fist around the cord. Nothing stung as long and hard as betrayal. "Shut it, Cooper."
"You know I'm right."
Olivia passed with a tray, nodding her head toward the back. Layla followed the direction of her nod. Cappy's bald head gleamed under the kitchen lights. He gave Layla a pointed look.
"I have to go. I'm in the middle of lunch rush."
She took two orders, working on automatic as her mind filtered through the possibilities. She had to find someone and quick. On her break she made a few calls. No luck.
She tidied her long brown ponytail before exiting the break room. She had two and a half more hours of work, one hour to get ready, and a half-hour drive to Louisville. Feeling desperate, she scanned Cappy's. The new busboy, David, wasn't bad looking, and he was always smiling at her. She hadn't encouraged him because he was four years younger, but no one would know. Besides, desperate times and all that.
A few minutes later she walked away from David even more depressed. He was scheduled till closing. Worse, her invitation had encouraged him.
"You okay?" Olivia asked as she passed.
"Well, order's up for table four, and a family was just seated at five."
"Thanks." Layla grabbed the order from the heat lamp—a personal Whole Shebang—and headed toward four, her mind in overdrive.
She was tableside before she saw him. Seth Murphy recognized her at the same time. He pocketed his iPhone without taking his blue eyes off her.
"Layla," he said in that deep voice of his.
She tipped her chin up, set the pizza down, and didn't bother serving the first slice. "Murphy."
What was he doing here? At her station? Not that he had any way of knowing that. "Don't you have a wedding to be at?" She clamped her lips shut before anything else leaked out.
He checked his watch, a casual number with a big face and lots of dials. "Few hours." He opened his mouth again, then wisely shut it.
She spun around to table five before he could ask her the same. She felt Murphy's eyes on her back as she took the order, making heat flood the back of her neck. She didn't run into him much—didn't exactly travel in the same circles. But when she did, it was awkward. No one knew better than Murphy how badly Jack had hurt her. And no one, save Jack and Jessica, was more responsible.
She brought table five their drinks and delivered the bill to a couple squeezed into one side of a two-seater booth. She briefly considered ignoring Murphy's empty glass, but her conscience kicked in.
A minute later she set down a fresh Mountain Dew and ripped the bill from the tab. Normally she didn't leave it this early, but Murphy wasn't her normal customer. It was hard to be close to him again. To stay angry at him.
"Can I get you anything else?"
He leaned back against the red vinyl booth. The light from the overhead pendant washed over his features in a flattering way. He'd always reminded her of Ryan Gosling, especially when he wasn't wearing that infernal Murphy's Hardware cap.
He opened his mouth and shut it again. She was so tired of being tiptoed around. By him. By everyone.
She pulled herself to her full five feet six and tossed her ponytail over her shoulder. "Go ahead."
He blinked. "What?"
"Go ahead and ask."
His gaze dropped to the half-eaten slice on his plate. He hadn't shaved yet. The five o'clock shadow only made him more handsome. "Layla ..."
"Yes, I'm going to the wedding. Yes, I'm over him. And yes, I'm happy for my cousin. That about cover it?"
His eyes drifted to hers again. It was all she could do to hold his gaze. He had a way of looking at her that made her feel like he was seeing all the way inside. She hadn't seen that gaze since the summer they painted sets at the community theater. She'd liked it then. Now, not so much.
"I'm glad," he said. "You deserve ..." He struggled to fill in the blank. She didn't need his take on that anyway. She slapped the bill facedown. "Have a nice afternoon, Murphy."
Her heart was beating too fast as she spun away. Her legs trembled as she made her way to the kitchen. If seeing Murphy had this effect, what would tonight be like? Seeing Jack and Jessica exchanging vows, kissing, dancing?
She didn't have time to worry about her feelings. She still needed a date, and the clock was ticking. She'd exhausted her contact list. She scanned the restaurant again as she carried out an order. A group of guys she didn't know had gathered around the pool table in the back room. Married couples and families filled the restaurant. She scanned the kitchen again. Three males. David, Cappy, and a man old enough to be her grandfather.
Come on, God, a little help here.
Her eyes fell on Murphy as she set down a medium pepperoni at the next table and began serving slices.
No. Absolutely not. For reasons too numerous to mention.
She gave a mechanical smile to the couple and went for more refills. Maybe he was single. And yes, attractive. But he was also a friend of Jack's. She was surprised he wasn't in the wedding, but then Jessica had probably insisted that Jack choose her brothers.
She looked out the tinted window to the snowy landscape. Fat snowflakes drifted to the white carpet. It was beautiful, she had to admit. Perfect day for a winter wedding. If things had gone differently, it might have been her day.
A loud slurp drew her eyes to Murphy's table. He set his empty cup down and took another bite of his pizza.
Fine. One more refill.
A minute later she set the drink on Murphy's table and turned to go.
"Layla ..." He touched her arm. "Wait."
His touch sent a jolt of something through her. His fingers still rested lightly there. She turned, raising her brows.
"Do you ... need a ride? To the wedding? The roads are getting bad."
She stared into his eyes. He had a way of catching her completely off guard. Always had. Even back when they'd been friends, back before she and Jack had gotten together.
"I mean—you probably have a date ..."
"I did. Two hours ago. Cooper came down with strep."
He scratched his neck. "I'm going alone, so ..."
Was this the answer? Was God sending her the most unlikely of lifelines?
And the real question: was she really that desperate?
Sadly, she knew the answer to that one.
"So," he said.
She shifted her weight. "Yeah, thanks. A ride would be great."
Something flickered in his eyes, but it was gone before she could guess what it was.
"Pick you up at five thirty?"
"Sure." Layla turned away before she could reconsider. Before she could wonder why her knees were knocking too hard to hold her upright.
Showing up at her ex-fiancé's wedding with Murphy was infinitely better than showing up alone. Wasn't it?
Seth inched forward in the receiving line, glancing covertly at Layla. Her generous lips were set into a brittle smile, her moss-green eyes flashed with some emotion. She hadn't so much as flinched during the ceremony. Maybe she really was over Jack.
When they moved forward again, she stepped closer to him, tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow. He pulled her into his side, his heart shooting warning signals to his brain. This has nothing to do with you.
Layla had hardly looked at him since they'd left Chapel Springs except to shoot him disdainful looks. He couldn't seem to say anything right. Even when he'd complimented her appearance—and he'd meant every word—she'd twisted his words.
They moved forward. Jack was now just inches away. Jack, his former best friend. They were still friends, but it wasn't the same. Jack had changed as he'd moved up in the world. The old Jack never would've treated a woman so callously.
"Murphy." Jack reached out for a one-arm hug. "Thanks for coming, man."
"Congratulations, you two."
The groom's eyes drifted to Layla, widening slightly at the sight of her on Seth's arm. He recovered quickly, leaning in for a shoulder hug. "Layla. Thank you for coming."
As Layla pulled away from Jack, her hand tightened to a death grip on Seth's arm.
"Layla!" Jessica greeted her cousin with a plastic smile and leaned in for a kiss that didn't quite meet Layla's cheek.
"Jess. Congratulations." There was no sign of anxiety in her even tone. "You look lovely."
"Thank you! It took forever to find this dress." Her eyes swept down Layla and back up again. "Oh my gosh. I used to have a dress just like that. Mom finally gave it to Goodwill, but I just loved it."
Seth inched away, tugging Layla with him. "We should move on. We'll catch you at the reception."
As soon as they rounded the corner, Layla pulled away. Her shoulders set, she walked stiffly, her heels clicking on the hallway tile. There was no sign of distress on her face, save her clenched jaw.
"You're doing great," he said.
She shot him a look as they exited the church and remained quiet on the ride to the reception, which was being held at an elegant hall a few miles away.
After finding a table, Layla made the rounds with her family. Seth had offered to go with her, but got only a hard look in return. There was no question she blamed him for all this. But he'd never meant for it to happen. Would never have hurt Layla intentionally.
It had started when he'd intercepted a call from Jessica, whose car had broken down on the highway. How could he possibly have known when he sent Jack after her where it would lead? And in the coming weeks, when Jack had mentioned Jessica in passing, he'd thought nothing of it. In retrospect Seth could see he'd been a little slow on the uptake. And Layla blamed him for not warning her. Or maybe she blamed him for getting the ball rolling. Probably both.
He watched her now, peeling away from her great-aunts. Even with the fake smile, she was the most beautiful woman in the room, with her long dark hair, flawless skin, and wide green eyes. She was long-legged, with curves in all the right places. But that wasn't why she'd dug so deeply under his skin. No, it was her feisty spirit that drew him most. The way her eyes sparked with emotion. The way she stood up for herself and those she cared about. Layla was flat-out amazing.
And Jessica knew it too. That's why she jabbed at her cousin every chance she got. That comment in the receiving line had made him want to shake the spoiled woman. Watching Layla now, he had a feeling things hadn't gone any better with her aunts.
She was finishing what appeared to be a pleasant conversation with her dad; her brother, Beckett; and Beckett's fiancée, Madison. A moment later Layla passed by him, stopping at the open bar several feet away.
"Mr. Malcolm, good to see you," she said.
Stanley Malcolm extended his hand. "You too, ah ..."
"Layla O'Reilly. I stopped into your office awhile back."
"Right, right. Nice to see you again."
Layla had recently started staging homes for sale. Seth had heard good things about her decorating skills, but she was still part-time at Cappy's, so he wondered if she was struggling to get her business off the ground.
Layla's body language exuded confidence as she spoke with Stanley. Good for her. Malcolm Realty specialized in the high-end historical homes in their region. Stanley could put her enterprise on the map. Layla handed him a business card, and he stuck it in the pocket of his suit coat.
Daniel Dawson, the very young mayor of Chapel Springs, approached them, extending his hand to Stanley. The broker turned from Layla to give Daniel his full attention.
Layla's smile fell away. Her hands floundered in the air a moment.
"Hello, Seth." Marsha Marquart appeared in front of him, blocking his view.
He stood and shook her hand. "Mrs. Marquart, good to see you."
"You haven't forgotten about Silent Night, have you?"
"Of course not." In a weak moment this summer she'd talked him into participating in the annual tour of homes the weekend before Christmas.
"I can't wait to see what you come up with." She patted his shoulder. "Have a lovely evening."
As she walked away, he wished for the dozenth time he'd turned her down. Decorating his old house was going to bite. He possessed exactly one boxful of Christmas decorations and zero decorating skills.
A commotion sounded at the front of room as the bride and groom made their entry. Layla returned to the table as the couple began their first dance. She said little to Seth through the toasts and dinner, chatting mostly with the others at the table. Beckett and Madison sat at Layla's other side, keeping her engaged.
As soon as the orchestra struck up a tune, Madison dragged Beckett onto the dance floor. Layla continued picking at her food. A curly wisp of hair had come loose from her updo, kissing the side of her face. Seth longed to brush it behind her ear, to feel the silky smoothness of her skin under the pad of his thumb. He clenched his fist before he followed through and got his hand smacked away.
He could only imagine what she was feeling. This must be the longest night of her life. "We can leave anytime you want."
She set her fork down. "We have to stay until they cut the cake."
Must be some kind of rule. The band struck up a new tune. An old Frank Sinatra song. More couples headed to the floor.
"Would you like to dance?"
She arched a delicate brow. "With you?"
He reached for his drink. "I'll take that as a no."
"Feel free to ask someone else, Murphy."
He wasn't leaving her now, even if he wanted to dance with someone else—and he didn't. Jack and Jessica were making the rounds, only one table away now. He could tell Layla had noticed by the way she punished the napkin in her lap.
"You can call me Seth, you know."
"You used to." She used to do other things with him too. Like laugh and touch and make small talk.
"Jack always called you Murphy. I got used to it."
The other two couples slid away from their table to join the growing throng on the dance floor.
"So your house is in the Tour of Homes?" Layla asked a moment later.
"I overheard your conversation with Marsha."
"Ah. Yes, unfortunately, I succumbed to the pressure."
He gave her a wry smile. "I'm pretty clueless when it comes to decorating. I don't even have—" An idea occurred. A pretty brilliant one. "You wouldn't be interested in helping me out ..."
Her lips turned down. Her eyes dimmed as she turned away.
"I could pay you—"
"Hey, cuz!" Jessica sidled up beside them.
The four of them reconnected, their greetings as artificially sweetened as a can of Diet Coke.
"So are you guys, ah, together?" Jack asked.
Jessica swatted his shoulder. "Oh, honey, I'm sure they're not actually together. Layla's not his type."
Her implication was clear. Seth would never date a lowlife like Layla. Never mind that her groom had.
Seth reached for Layla's hand, closing it around her clenched fist. "Actually, we are."
"You don't mean dating ..." The disbelief on Jessica's face made Seth want to shake her again.
His gaze toggled to Layla. "Yes, dating."
Jessica gave an unladylike snort and looked at Seth like he was missing a screw. "Seriously?"
"Jessica ..." That was Jack's lame attempt to rein in his bride.
Layla's nose flared and her eyes flashed. Her lips parted.
Seth knew that look. "Engaged, actually."
Layla's head spun toward him.
Excerpted from December Bride by Denise Hunter. Copyright © 2013 Denise Hunter. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A December Bride is a sweet, second chance romance story and is perfect for the holiday season! This is the first book in a series of novellas called A Year of Weddings. The series is set around a wedding for each month of the year. This is a great way to have a year filled with romance. This is the first book I’ve read from author Denise Hunter and I really enjoyed her writing. This is a short and quick read but it was an enjoyable story. The plot was simple but it didn’t feel rushed and the writer does a great job of developing the characters. The chemistry between them was amazing. This is a Christian romance but the mention of religion is subtle. The author created a romance that was steamy but still clean. I look forward to reading more from this author.
I love a wedding and a wedding with Christmas and snow and sleighs involved is even better. Layla is decorating Seth Murphy's historic home in hopes of getting a job from a huge influential client in the area. Seth tries to save Layla's hurt feelings and tells Jessica that they are engaged. And that they wedding is in just a few weeks right before Christmas! She would make him take it back except she really wants the job and the client is impressed that she is engaged to wealthy Seth Murphy. What's a girl to do?? She simply must plan a small intimate wedding, right, or at least pretend to do so. This is a really quick and sweet read. I really enjoyed the book and couldn't help smiling the whole way through the book. I rate this book 5 stars and am eager to read the other novellas in the series. I am working my way through a year full of weddings and romance. I received a free pdf version of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Hott Synopsis: Layla just can’t go to her ex-fiance’s wedding without a date – especially since he’s marring the girl he dumped her for – but she has to attend her cousin’s wedding. Dealing with the two of them is bad enough but looking into the pitying faces of the rest of their family will be unbearable. So, when her date backs out Layla accepts the assistance of Seth, the man she hold responsible for the destruction of her almost-marriage. Seth is thrilled that he’s getting another chance to go out with Layla. It’s all he’s ever wanted. All he needs to do is to get her to stop blaming him and start loving him and his life will be perfect. Okay, so maybe announcing they’re engaged wasn’t the best of ideas but… Hott Review: What I liked: This was really an adorable book. I absolutely devoured it! It’s cute, fun and so real I felt like I was there. What I didn’t like: It really didn’t feel like a Christian Fiction novella. There was nothing inappropriate just not God-focused. More… Author: Denise Hunter Source: Zondervan via Netgalley Grade: A Ages: 16+ Steam: Adult | There’s some pretty steamy kissing that won’t be appropriate for all YA. Setting: Small Town America Series: A Year of Weddings | December
I adore Denise Hunter's books. Her characters have genuine problems and are real people. What I most like about her stories are how she handles the matter of faith. She usually has a particular parable or psalm or story in mind when she writes and by the end of the book the hero/heroine (and the gentle reader) have grasped the point. This novella was no different, the power of forgiveness, the love that has always been present, the love that is not earned- these were all present in this beautiful novella. While this is the first book in Zondervan's Year of weddings, it has the same family you meet in "Barefoot Summer." I was provided a free ebook from net galley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first novella in the "Year of Weddings series". Having never read any of Denise Hunters books before I was not sure what to expect. However, after reading a couple chapters I really enjoyed this christian romance and wanted to read more of Denise's books and this series. I think Denise did a great job of giving you a brief overview right away of the main character so that you would understand the situation as you read on. In addition, I really enjoyed how she incorporated faith, romance and humor in this novella. The only item that I would say made this novella a 4 out of 5 was that I felt it could have actually been made into an entire book rather than just a novella. I am very interested to read more in this series and also by this author. I would encourage both Christian readers and romance readers alike to read this book as I feel it flows across both genres but not fixating on just one.
Quick, enjoyable read.
A Christmas Wedding Miracle? A December Bride by Denise Hunter was a quick fun romance. This book is the first one in a series of novellas based around a wedding in each month called A Year of Weddings. Layla O’reilly is in need of a date to her ex-boyfriend and cousin’s wedding when her date gets sick and can’t make it at the last minute. She finds herself agreeing to go with Seth Murphy, who she has been blaming her break up with Jack on. She was harboring a lot of negative feelings towards him, so when he randomly announces at the wedding that they are engaged and getting married in four weeks to say face for Layla she is shocked and understandably mad. Seth promises to fix it until Layla decides she needs his help, because the man she wants to work with didn’t give her the time of day until the engagement was announced. Her and Seth come to a deal that they will stay fake engaged to help her if she helps him decorate his house for a tour his house was chosen to be on. Seth needed this time to convince her that he would never hurt her and loved her. Can Layla continue lying to her family just to get a job? Can she ever forgive Seth for pushing Jack and Jessica together? Is four weeks enough time for Seth to convince her he loves her? This was a quick fun read based around weddings and Christmas. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely recommend it to all romance readers or someone looking for some light fluff reading.
I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review. A December Bride is a novella and is the first in the A Year of Weddings series celebrating a bride each month. An engagement of convenience is so much like a marriage of convenience, one of my favorite romance story premises; the Christmas setting is just icing on the cake! Layla is looking to prove that she no longer pines for her ex-fiance. Seth always liked her and attempts to protect her at the wedding by proclaiming to the ex-fiance that they are engaged. Despite Layla's resentment towards Seth, she sees the fake engagement as a boost to the business she is trying to start. I really liked Layla's spunk and Seth's quiet strength. Since this is a novella, there certainly could have been more to the story. However, Hunter does a really good job showing the connection that Seth and Layla had a few years ago, which makes their relationship very believable. This is an inspirational romance, so while there are a few scenes with swoon-worthy kisses, there is nothing more risque than that. This is a short and sweet read with a very satisfying happily ever after!
The December Bride by Denise Hunter is the first in the series of novellas by Zondervan. There is a bride for every month. Today we will discuss Denise’s novel. Synopsis: Layla has to find a date to her cousins wedding to her fiancée. Well he is not her fiancée anymore. So why would she go to his wedding? Anyone would understand her not attending this wedding. Yes, but he is marrying her cousin Jessica. Seth who has been a friend and would like nothing more than to be there for Layla. So when Layla’s date cancels and she agrees to go with Seth what could possibly happen? Is the wedding the opportunity for Seth to make his move? My Thoughts: I very much enjoyed this story. It seemed almost scripted and seamless as I turned each page. This is my first time reading a novella by Denise Hunter. I think she may have found a new fan. One note is this novel is connected to the Chapel Springs series. The first novel in this series is Barefoot Summer. I am interested in learning more about these characters in this series. Don’t miss the rest of the novellas in this great Bridal series! by Jencey Gortney/Writer's Corner
What a wonderful story!! It was wonderful!!
I absolutely loved this book! The romance was wonderful! I loved the plot and enjoyed watching Seth try to win over Layla while she tried to keep him at arm's length. It was amusing to see the predicaments they got themselves into. The characters were great, the writing wonderful, and the story didn't feel rushed even though this is a novella. I loved that Seth reminded Layla how special she is to God, even though she felt rejected by her ex-fiance and others. This is a very fun, lighthearted story that I will read again and again. Denise Hunter is one of my favorite authors and this story is a great example why. This is only available as an e-book. Do not miss it! I received a free kindle copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.
Language: There was like 1 minor word. Other objectionable: Just a few romantic scenes and mention of a girlfriend who cheated on her boyfriend (NOT Layla!). Suitable for: I think highschoolers and adults would enjoy this novella. Pros: This one was so cute! It was short and sweet (like this review will be), but still had some twists and turns along the way (mostly in the form of background info). We get a little insight into both Layla and Seth's family history...both are kind of sad. The whole thing with Layla and Seth tricking everyone into thinking that they're engaged was a little far-fetched, I'll admit, but it was so funny! The plot moved quickly, as a novella's should, but it maintained the fine art of not going so fast that the reader is confused. Overall, this was a great, quick read, and I'd recommend it to all chick lit/fluffy romance readers out there. :) Cons: Nothing.
A December Bride is a beautifully touching and passionately mesmerizing story of the rebuilding of one’s self-worth and the transforming power of relentless love. This story pulled me in from the first word, and I was helpless to resist its gentle power and captivating hold. It touched me deeply with its quiet passion and pure love that was determined to be acknowledged and embraced. The splendor of this journey is in its longing to transform the broken heart and fill the empty soul of a woman who never knew her worth or how loved she was. This is a story for women to know that they are worthy of unconditional love, valued beyond measure, and cherished for the unique jewel that they are. Layla is a simple girl trying her best to get noticed for what she loves to do. While trying to secure her dream job she inadvertently finds herself engaged. This might be a good thing if her fiancé wasn’t the one to blame for her shattered heart. Seth can’t believe his luck at being engaged to Layla. Even if it is a fake engagement, he isn’t complaining one bit. He fully intends to not let her get away this time, but he knows that he is in for the biggest challenge of his life. It will take a Christmas miracle to soften her heart towards him, and he’s already started praying. I absolutely loved the characters found in the pages of this book. They feel so real and their pain and love radiate off the page. Every step of their journey is filled with despair, determination, and hope. This is one story that I would have loved to delve deeper into and held onto longer in order to hear their backstory and see some of their future. It was easy for me to relate to Layla’s struggles with her self-worth and her value to those around her. I have dealt with the same issues myself, and I know how all-encompassing they can be. It’s hard to see yourself outside of this mess of issues. You need someone to show you who you really are. To have someone like Seth in your life is a true miracle from God. Only people like him are able to push through the walls and quiet the noise enough to allow you to see there is more than just failure and loss in your life. Denise Hunter has created a brilliant ray of hope that will show women their true potential and worth. We need to be loved with abandon and cherished beyond measure. To be seen as a helpmate and not a play toy is the cry of women around the world. Only God’s divine love can heal the gaping wounds inflicted on those who He intended to fill the void within man and be his friend, helper, and lover. We must continue to lift our voices and our hearts in prayer that His love would permeate our planet and bring sanity, love, and hope back to a dying and pain filled world.
A December Bride is part of the A Year of Weddings series. I am thoroughly enjoyed these novellas. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like a contemporary engagement of convenience story. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it very much. The characters were likable and fun... You can see my full review at More Than a Review dot com where I rate the level of sex, violence, language and drug/alcohol use in books.
I love marriage romances. There’s always something too sweet to end a romance novella with a wedding and celebration. So when I found this series on NetGalley my first though was the pretty cover. Loved the colors and the flowers and so rich. I understand that in the US a wedding in december is all about the winter wonderland with lots of snow. The story made possible for us to fall in love with Layla and Seth. Seth was a great guy and I could not understand the reason for Layla to hate him so much when the guilt person was her ex-fiance. Seth was only the best-friend and had no idea about the affair with Layla cousin. So for me the drama should be only about the affair, but in the middle of everything Seth was considered guilt from Layla POV, only because he did nothing and neither told her about it. I loved the sweet way he treated her and tried to change her anger. I don’t understand why her family let her be treated that way, but Seth was perfect and I loved seeing those two together, when he got the idea to pretend a marriage I was super on his side.
When I started this book I wasn’t sure what to expect. But as I got into it, it was really fun to watch as Seth and Layla in a complete mess. And watch the two of them try to learn how to overcome it all. Now I do have to say, this story was quite predictable, but I think that’s just because it was a romance. There was no sex taken place in it. It was an overall sweet book that if you are just looking for something that will bring a smile to your face, you should check this one out. With Seth’s character, we were able to spend quite a bit of time with him and figure out what it is about Layla that he loves. And with Layla, well I do have to give her credit for still standing to be around him. But at the same time, I’m left wondering why the heck she would treat him like that! But, to each their own. Overall this is a really sweet romance that if you’re looking for a quick sweet read you should check this one out. Reviewed by Crystal Marie for Crystal's Many Reviewers *Copy provided for honest review*
A DECEMBER BRIDE by Denise Hunter is a fun "frenemies" to lovers romance novella that was lighthearted, humorous and very enjoyable to read. Layla O'Reilly was jilted by her ex-fiancé, Jack, to marry her snotty cousin Jessica instead. Family being family she is expected to show up at the wedding and has no intention of doing so without a date. Problem is the friend she counted on to help her prove she was over her ex cancels on her at the last minute. Seth Murphy, who was once the best friend of Layla O'Reilly's ex-fiancé would be the last person she'd go to for help, but coincidence puts him in the right place at the right time and Layla is desperate. The thing is Seth is a little desperate himself, because Layla has never forgiven him for the part he played in with Jack and Jessica hooking up. And Seth has never forgiven himself for letting Jack ask her out first and losing her to him years ago because he has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. So he sees this as possibly his last shot at the woman he loves. At the wedding the bride can't resist rubbing her new groom in Layla's face and Seth can't help but defend Layla with the first thing that comes to mind. He tells them they are engaged and gives a date less that four weeks away. At first Layla is upset, but there are reasons to carry on the charade for at least a week or so and she gives in. Seth is determined to make the most of this time he's been given to win Layla over and make her his permanently. Layla is prickly at first, but she can't help but warm up to Seth's sincerity and obvious true affection for her. Not that she made is pursuit of her easy, he really had to prove himself to her, which made the story just that much more heartwarming to read. The romance in The December Bride is sweet as is Seth and the story was the perfect treat just before bed. *I received this eBook for free on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Title: A December Bride - A Year Of Weddings Novella Author: Denise Hunter Publisher: Zondervan Fiction Published: 9-17-2013 ISBN: 9780310338741 E-Book ASIN: B00D0YSW5S Pages: 94 Genre: Christian Fiction Tags: Romance Layla O'Riley works as a waitress as she tries to get her staging company off the ground, but no one will give her the time of day. All they see is her family background and where she came from. Ir did not help when her fiance Jack dumped her for her cousin Jessica. Who doesn't miss a chance to put Layla down. Seth Murphy has loved Layla for along time, but his best friend, Jack asked her out first. He blames himself for Jack meeting Jessica and leaving Layla hurt and humiliated. When Layla's date for Jack and Jesse's wedding cancel just hours before the wedding he volunteers to take her as his date and desperate she accepts. Then Seth tells a whopper at the reception to shut the vindictive Jesse up, he and Layla are engaged and planning a Christmas Eve wedding. Jack promises to fix everything, but before he can it snowballs when Jack congratulates Layla and Seth on their engagement to the guest. Suddenly Layla is offered new business and people who wouldn't give her the time of day are calling her. Layla ask him not to break their fake engagement so she can establish her business. Seth wants time to get Layla to fall for him and agrees to play along if she will stage his home for the town Christmas Walk. He has less than four weeks to make their engagement real. A beautiful romantic story that reminds us sometimes God works in our lives in mysterious ways. This is a quick and easy read that appeals on many different levels and is suited for all ages. This novella is such a pleasurable ways to relax for a few hours. I had nearly forgotten how much I enjoyed these clean, easy to believe story lines. Now I have a years worth to look forward to. I hope you like "A December Bride" by Denise Hunter as much as I did.
A Year of Weddings is a series of 12 novellas written by numerous well loved authors. The first of these is A December Bride. I love how Denise Hunter took the time to find the best words to bring Layla and Seth to life in such a way that her readers can identify with them. Not only did the characters come alive, the scenes of Christmas vibrated in technicolor! How unique the setting was, and caused this romantic reader to dream. Well written, vivid imagery used, fresh plot everything together made for a fabulous read! Way to go, Denise and Zondervan/Thomas Nelson. I received this ebook free from Netgalley and Thomas Nelson/Zondervan Fiction for the purpose of review. A positive critique was not required. The opinions are my own.
A December Bride is a really cute novella, and really sweet. I read this book in no time, and this novella flowed at a great pace. I know with novellas there are sometimes problems with too much, with too little content, but A December Bride had a nice balance. This book is about romance, and I thought it was done well with the right twist of humor. One thing I didn't love was I wanted Layla to have more closure with her ex; it seemed to me that she wasn't quite there. I just wanted it a bit more clear. I really enjoyed this book; it was nice and light reading, and I look forward to reading more books in the series, and I hope to check out the different authors of this series!
I was pleasantly surprised with this novella, an author that was new to me in a genre that I enjoy. This sweet romance had plenty of humor and heart as we get to know Layla and her frustrations as she works toward a new life that will allow her dreams to be fulfilled. A small town is the setting for Layla, when we first meet her she is working and fretting over the loss of her date to the upcoming wedding of her ex-boyfriend. She refuses to go alone, not wanting to show her hurt to the ex or his new intended, a vicious cousin who Is all snark and no smile. When her date backs out at the last minute, Layla agrees to go with Seth, a friend of the ex and the man she blames for the end of her relationship. When the newly married couple approaches Seth and Layla, and gets under her skin, Seth steps up and makes things worse, announcing their engagement. Of course, an announcement is made, and Layla is stuck wondering if she can break the truth without feeling foolish again. For his part, Seth is hoping to get Layla to see his true feelings: he isn’t above some creative manipulation and throwing all sorts of money at a problem to grease the path to happiness. Layla wants to impress a large developer with her home staging skills, Seth opens his house and his wallet to give her carte blanche to prepare his old Victorian for an upcoming historic house tour. In the meantime, he is doing all he can to get Layla to see the truth: they are good together. The marriage of convenience trope is often used, throwing two characters together and watching them come to a slow realization of their feelings. Seth and Layla are both built with depth and quirks that make them easy to relate to: their interactions are cleverly written and the humor that is both situational and conversational are cleverly woven into the story to keep the reader smiling. Lush descriptions of the rooms and decorations fill the pages with ideas and visuals while the heart of both characters shines bright. A sweet Christmas themed romance that will keep you engaged and enchanted as the pages fly by. I received an eBook copy from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I loved this story. It is the first novella in the A Year of Weddings series. Each month, a different author is releasing a wedding story. This story was a great way to kick off the weddings! A December Bride is connected with the characters from Denise Hunter’s book, Barefoot Summer. I was able to read this wedding story just fine without having read Barefoot Summer, however, now I plan to go back and read Barefoot Summer as well. I love reading books by Denise Hunter. She writes great attraction between characters. Layla and Seth find themselves in a pretend engagement. The whole town thinks they are getting married on Christmas Eve. Layla is also working on staging Seth’s house for a Tour of Homes, so they are spending a lot of time together. Will Layla be able to forgive Seth for something that she blames him for in the past? Will Seth be able to convince Layla that he would actually like the engagement to be the real kind instead of a farce? Even though this is not a full length novel, I felt that the characters were fully developed, their attraction felt very real and the story did not feel rushed at all. A very good story that I am glad I read during December. However, I would recommend this book for romance fans to read at any time of the year.
One of my favorite things this time of year is Christmas novellas. Zondervan has put together a series of novellas called A Year of Weddings. Each book will have a different author but they all will center around a wedding. I think that will be a nice little treat each month of the year! Forget the jam of the month club, I'll take this thank you! A December Bride is such a fun start to this series. I found it amusing because I could relate to it on several levels. Who hasn't made a statement out of spite only to be trapped by it? The perfect part about the untruth was that Seth did it to protect Layla. Did he have ulterior motives? You'll have to read the book to find out! The chemistry between Layla and Seth was delicious, a little spicy and a whole lot sweet. The storyline flows and actually makes you feel like you are reading a full length novel. One of the great things about this series and this novella in particular is that if you enjoyed the story and you are longing for just a bit more, you can have it! For more of the characters and what happened to them before and after A December Bride you can read Denise's full length novel Barefoot Summer. The only possible drawback to this series is that it comes only in ebook or audiobook. I personally read it on my Kindle and didn't mind it a bit. I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
This was just the book I needed to read after reading a couple of serious books. I fell in love with Denise' s characters. Layla did a good job being nice when her fiancee dropped her for her cousin. Then a friend that she blames for her ex leaving tries to save her face for her by saying they were engaged. Needless to say she wasn't happy with Seth. There was a lot of angst as Layla works to make her business a go, decorate Seth's house for the Christmas House Contest and try to figure out how to get unengaged. You will have fun reading this book to see how everything works out!
I am both sad and happy to say that this was my first time reading a novel by Denise Hunter, sad because I now see what I was missing, but happy because there are so many more waiting for me to explore. A December Bride was a fun, sweet, romantic read that I enjoyed. Denise Hunter has done an excellent job writing a sweet tale of forgiveness, love, and Seth Murphy. Though I've read novels with a similar storyline, A December Bride was refreshing because of Seth Murphy, the charismatic, sweet guy whose kindness and good intentions steal not only the heart of the main character Layla, but also the whole novella. The likability that Layla lacked through part of the story for me, Seth more than made up for. When I heard that there was to be a whole year of wedding novellas I was ecstatic and what a story to open with. I will definitely continue reading both Denise Hunter novels and A Year of Weddings Novellas.