"A heartfelt look into pain and grief and the saving beauty of love. Achingly beautiful."—Carly Philips, New York Times Bestselling author
All he wants for Christmas is her...
In the small town of Crystal Lake, Christmas is a time for sledding, hot chocolate, and cozying up to the fire with those you love. For Jake Edwards, it's also time to come home and face the music. He thought there would never be anything harder than losing his brother. Turns out there is: falling in love with his brother's widow, Raine.
Ever since they were little, Jesse was the Edwards brother who was always there for her, and Jake was the one who knew just how to push her buttons. Raine can't imagine a life without them, which is why it was doubly decimating when Jake left town after his brother's sudden death. Now he's back and she doesn't know whether to be mad or thrilled. Maybe both. Or maybe it will be the perfect chance for both of them to finally find happiness again.
Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series:
The Summer He Came Home (Book 1)
The Christmas He Loved Her (Book 2)
The Day He Kissed Her (Book 3)
"Will appeal to readers of Cathie Linz and Susan Elizabeth Phillips."—Booklist
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The cemetery where his brother rested was a desolate place in late November. It sat upon a drab green hill surrounded by a forest of pine and birch. In the distance, Crystal Lake shimmered through skeletal tree limbs like wisps of blue silk as a cold wind drew whitecaps on the water.
Jake Edwards pulled his Jeep over to the shoulder, cut the engine, and slowly exhaled. His fingers gripped the steering wheel so tightly they cramped, and though he stretched them out and tried to relax, it was no use. He was wound tighter than a junkie in rehab, and he drummed a methodical beat along the dashboard as he gazed out the window.
This particular cemetery was the oldest in town, and many of Crystal Lake's founding families were buried within its borders. Grand mausoleums and tombstones rose against the dull gray sky, painted dark like a macabre city skyline. He stared at them for several long moments, eyes hard, mouth tight, as a light rain began to fall. It was nothing more than a drizzle, really, and created a mist that hung over the cemetery, though he only had eyes for the row just beyond the large oak tree.
Row number thirty-six. Jesse's row.
The darkness in him stirred, leaving the taste of bitterness on his tongue. He let it settle. He let it burn. Hell, these days it was the only thing that told him he was still alive-even if he did feel half-dead most of the time.
A crow flew lazily in the sky, slicing through the haze until it swooped low and settled on top of a large stone angel not far from him. It cocked its head, then turned and stared at Jake-its small beady eyes steady as it slowly blinked.
Jake held its gaze for several more seconds and then jerked his chin up as if to say Fuck you. The crow cawed, rotated its head, and flew off once more, out over the lake.
Abruptly, he turned the key and put his Jeep in gear. He continued down Lakeshore Road because he sure as hell wasn't ready to deal with the cemetery yet.
His parents were expecting him, but first he had one more stop-a certain someone he needed to see. A certain someone he was damn sure had no desire to see him, and he didn't blame her one bit. Not after the way he'd left things.
Jake had screwed up, and now it was time to set things right.
Five minutes later he stepped out of his Jeep and slung a worn leather bag over his shoulder as he glanced up at a small cottage set back a few hundred feet from the road. At one time it had been a carriage house and was a solid structure built entirely of large blocks of gray, weathered limestone. A simple white-spindled porch ran the length of it, with empty baskets hung at each corner, their usual treasure of deep-red geraniums long dead.
An old, rickety rocking chair moved gently on its own there, the legs squeaking as it moved back and forth, pushed either by the crisp breeze that rolled in off the lake or the ghost of Josiah Edwards, an ancestor said to haunt the woods.
Jake pulled the collar of his leather jacket up to his chin and shuddered as a strong gust of wind whipped across the still-green lawn, carrying with it the remains of dead, rotted leaves and anything else it managed to shake free.
He took a step forward, eyes narrowed, as his gaze took in an expensive Mercedes parked near the house next to a rusting and faded yellow Volkswagen. He wasn't sure who owned the Mercedes, but the rust bucket he knew well. The ancient Beetle had been a broken-down mess when she had first bought it.
The car belonged to his sister-in-law, Raine, and in a world gone to shit, at least the car hadn't changed.
Jake slowly perused the property. He spied a weather-beaten bench near the tree line and knew that if he took the path that led through the woods to his right, he'd end up at his parents' home-eventually. It was still a hike, several miles to be exact, but this parcel of land, boasting an acre and a half of prime waterfront along with the stone cottage, had been severed years ago from his parents' property. It had been a wedding present to his brother Jesse and his then-new bride, Raine.
A familiar ache crept across his chest, and for a moment he faltered, his eyes squeezed shut. He pictured the three of them, Jake, Jesse, and Raine, decked out in their wedding finery. It had rained that day, a good omen, according to some, and Raine's dress was tattered along the hem from dancing outdoors in the mud, while his brother's tuxedo had remained crisp and clean. Jake's tux, however, was as ruined as the bride's dress. They'd posed for a picture, the three of them, there by the bench beneath the ancient oak.
Jake sighed and opened his eyes, resting them once more on the empty bench. It needed a fresh coat of paint. He shook the melancholy from his mind and strode toward the house.
It had been a year and a half since he left Crystal Lake. And even though he was pretty sure Raine Edwards wanted nothing to do with him, he was going to try his best to make amends. It was the least he could do. For Raine. For Jesse.
And maybe, for himself.
He stepped up onto the porch, his eyes settling on the newly painted white trim that encased the door-a door that was no longer the green he remembered, but a deep, dark red. He heard voices inside and his gut rolled nervously. She had company. Maybe now wasn't a good time.
His dark eyes drifted toward his Jeep. Ten seconds and he could be out of here before anyone knew better. He took a step backward, weighing his options, his jaw clenched tightly as the all-too-familiar wave of guilt, anger, and loathing washed through him. Coward.
Jake ran his fingers through the thick mess of hair atop his head and tried to ease the tension that settled along his shoulders. He hadn't seen Raine since the Fourth of July, well over a year ago, and they hadn't parted on good terms. They'd both said some things...hurtful things...but he'd made everything worse by taking off for what he meant to be only a few weeks to clear his head. The few weeks had turned into months, and those months had bled into nearly a year and a half.
It had been much too long, and he still wasn't sure he was ready to face the ghosts of his past. Yet here he stood.
Jake blew out a hot breath and reached for the door, when it was suddenly wrenched open and a bundle of gold streaked past his feet and barked madly as it did so. It was a ball of fur that ran crazily down the steps, with a chubby frame that was barely able to manage them. He stepped back, and then the puppy was forgotten as he stared down into the face that had haunted him his entire life, it seemed.
Huge round eyes the color of Crystal Lake on a stormy day widened, while the small bow mouth fell open in shock. Her skin was pale, the kiss of summer long faded, and the angles of her face were sharper, more defined. She looked fragile. And beautiful. And delicate. And...
"You cut your hair," was all he managed to say-barely.
Her fingers twisted in the uneven, ebony ends that fell a few inches past her jaw but didn't quite touch her shoulders. It was a reflex action, and damn if it didn't tug on the cold strings still attached to his heart. She pulled on a long, curling piece, tucked it behind her ear, and settled her hand, tightened into a fist, against her chest.
She wore a pink T-shirt, Salem's Lot etched across her breasts in a bold, black font. The old, worn jeans that hugged her hips looked tattered and done for, the ends rolled up past delicate ankles, leaving her feet bare, her toenails painted in chipped blue polish.
For a moment there was nothing but silence, and then she moistened her lips and exhaled slowly. "Your hair is longer than it's ever been."
The sound of her voice was like a returning memory, one that filled the emptiness inside and stretched thin over his heart.
He nodded, not quite knowing what to say. He'd officially left the military six months ago, and hair had been the last thing on his mind. The closely cropped style he'd sported his entire adult life was no more. Now it curled past his ears.
"It's been...a long time." Her words were halting, as if she wasn't sure she wanted to speak.
He held her gaze for a moment and then glanced away. The old wicker chair still rocked gently in the breeze, and the golden bundle of fur that had shot out of Raine's house was sniffing the ground near his Jeep.
"Yeah," was all Jake managed, and even that was hard.
"Nice that you made time for your father." A touch of frost was in her voice now, and he glanced back sharply.
Awkward silence fell between the two of them as he stared down into eyes that were hard. Had he expected anything less?
"He's been sick for a while now." Her chin jutted out. "You know that, right?" Accusation rang in her words.
A spark of anger lit inside him. So this was how it was going to be. "Yeah, Raine. I know."
Her mouth thinned and a flush crept into her pale cheeks. "Well, why the hell did you wait so long to come home to us?"
"I couldn't get away," he said flatly.
She arched an eyebrow and shivered. "Couldn't? Or wouldn't?"
He took a step closer and reiterated. "Couldn't."
He knew part of it was bullshit. If he'd really wanted to come home earlier, he could have. The guys would have understood. But he'd never admit that it was only his father's health taking a wrong turn that had finally brought him back. Because that would mean admitting the reason he'd stayed away for so long was right in front of him.
All five feet four inches of her.
Her toe tapped against the shiny wooden planks at her feet, and her eyes narrowed into a glare that told him everything. Raine Edwards was pissed.
She cleared her throat and raised her chin.
She was more than pissed.
Jake squared his shoulders. This was good. He'd rather she was mad as hell than weepy and soft. Mad he could handle. Soft and needy, not so much. Not from her, anyway.
"You going to invite me in, or are we going to have it out, here on the porch?" Jake arched an eyebrow and waited. Nothing was ever "easy" and "gentle" between him and Raine. There had always been that friction.
She and his brother, Jesse, had been like yin and yang, while Jake and Raine were like oil and water. They didn't exactly mix and rarely saw eye to eye.
From the time they were kids... How many nights had Jesse given up and gone to bed long after the two of them argued over every last detail of whatever the hell it was they happened to be discussing? From Scrabble to politics to music and everything in between.
Raine's mouth thinned and she stepped past him, clapped her hands, and yelled "Gibson" as she did so. The puppy's head shot up, its round body quivering as it answered her call. The dog ran toward the house, chasing a leaf, weaving an intricate path until it climbed the stairs and barked at her feet.
She scooped the puppy into her arms and laughed as it struggled to lick her face. Something inside him thawed in that moment. Something that he'd encased in a wall of ice. It was painful, and the dread in his gut doubled. He'd known this was a bad idea, but it was a bad idea he needed to see through. He owed it to Jesse, even if he was a year and a half late.
And he owed it to Raine, after the way he'd left things.
She stepped back and cleared her throat. "You planning on spending the night?"
"Excuse me?" Jake answered carefully, not understanding her angle.
Raine licked her lips, the heightened color in her cheeks a healthy pink in an otherwise pale face. She pointed toward his bag. "Did you pack extra boxers and your toothbrush?"
"No." Jake shook his head. "This is just..."
She turned before he could finish and indicated that he follow her inside as she strolled down the hall with the puppy still in her arms, her hips swaying gently. He couldn't help himself. His eyes roved her figure hungrily, taking in every inch, from the top of her head to the bottom of her bare feet. His mouth tightened, a frown settling across his brow because he sure as hell didn't like what he saw. She was too thin. Too pale.
Too much like the ghosts he'd seen wandering the base at Fort Hood-war widows and widowers, distraught families, friends. All of them had that look. Christ, he saw it every day he looked in the mirror, but Raine...damn, he wanted more for her.
Then maybe I should have done something about it. He winced at the thought, mostly because it was the truth.
The house was brightly lit, the sun that shone in through the windows creating warmth against the rich oak floors. For a second, Jake faltered as the heaviness of the moment slipped over him. So many memories he'd tried to forget. He'd helped his brother restore the entire main floor the last time they were home on leave nearly two years ago. It was the last time all three of them had been together.
Voices echoed in his head, echoes from a past that would haunt him forever, and he forced himself to move, noting that the kitchen sported a complete redo-gleaming antique-cream-colored granite, dark chocolate cabinets, and shiny stainless-steel appliances. No doubt a gift from his parents, because the last he knew, working at the youth center in the neighboring city didn't pay much. Not that it mattered. Aside from the sizable life-insurance settlement Raine had been entitled to, the Edwards family looked after their own.
She would never want for anything.
Raine had been a part of their lives from the time they were kids. Raised for the most part by her Aunt Jeanine, she'd been on her own since the age of sixteen, when her aunt died. Her mother, Gloria, traveled extensively, doing missionary work for the church. It was mighty charitable of her, though Jake had never understood the need some people had to help others when it meant neglecting their own.
His face heated when he realized that was exactly what he'd done for the last year and a half. He was no better than her mother-worse, even-because Raine had always counted on him and he'd let her down when it mattered most.
She'd become an extra member of the Edwards family, the third wheel in a lot of the Edwards boys' shenanigans, and it had come as no surprise to anyone when she'd married one. The serious one, Jesse.
A male voice interrupted his train of thought, and for a moment the hot flush of something fierce washed through him. He jerked his head, hackles up, and stared at her in silence, hands fisted tightly at his sides.
Raine paused in the doorway that led to the living room/dining area and glanced over her shoulder-eyes still questioning, mouth still tight.
"Look what I found on the porch," she announced and walked into the living room. Jake took a moment and then followed suit, halting just inside the room.
"Son of a bitch!" Mackenzie Draper, one of his oldest buddies, set his beer onto the low-slung table in front of the sofa and rose, a smile splitting his face wide open. "You didn't say anything about coming home for the holidays."
Jake grinned. "It wasn't in the plans last time I saw you."
"Wait a minute," Raine interrupted. "When did you see Jake?" Her gaze focused on Mac, who shifted uncomfortably.
"I had business in Texas a few months back, and we got together for a drink."
"Texas," Raine muttered. "Right."
She turned stormy eyes his way, and Jake flinched at the hurt and accusation that colored them a darker hue. He felt even more like a shit.
"Nice that you have time for some of your friends, Jake."
"It wasn't planned, really," Mackenzie began. "I had a couple of extra days and we got together."
Raine set the puppy down. "That's a hell of a lot more than I ever got." She didn't bother to hide the bitterness in her words.
Jake ignored the taunt and remained silent, his eyes locked on to Mackenzie's. His friend was dressed in an expensive suit tailored to fit his tall frame, the charcoal gray a nice choice against the plum shirt. Though his collar was loose and a thin black tie lay on the table in front of him, Mac always looked GQ ready. With his thick dirty-blond hair and vibrant green eyes, he'd been labeled a pretty boy his entire life.
Mackenzie, Cain Black, Jake, and his brother Jesse had been the best of friends from the time they were five years old and Mackenzie had come to school with his front teeth missing and a shiner the color of rotted grapes. It had impressed the hell out of the Edwards twins, though they were too young to appreciate the darkness and violence it represented.
It was good to see him. "You home for the holidays too?" Jake asked.
Mackenzie shook his head. "Nah, I don't think Ben would appreciate it if I crashed his long weekend. I had business in Detroit and thought I'd squeeze in a visit with my mother, but..."
"But?" Jake prodded.
Mac shrugged. "Same old same old. I called ahead and it's not gonna work. Ben's already home and liquored up. I guess his long weekend has an extra few days tacked on to it. Mom snuck away and we had coffee." Mackenzie's mouth tightened. "She'll never change. There's always some reason for the bruises on her arms or the soreness in her side. He beats the crap out of her and she stays."
"She'll wake up one day, Mac," Raine said carefully.
Mackenzie turned to her, with a bitter smile. "I doubt it. In spite of everything, she loves him. How fucked-up is that?" He glanced at his watch. "Anyway, I gotta hit the road. It's a good ten hours until I hit New York."
"You sure you don't want to stay for Thanksgiving? I've got-" She halted and cleared her throat. "Well, the spare room isn't usable right now, but the sofa is yours." Raine prodded gently, "Maybe Ben will...I don't know..."
"Do us a favor and kick the bucket?" Mackenzie shook his head. "That son of a bitch will outlive us all." He enveloped Raine into a bear hug and kissed her on the cheek. "Thanks, but I'd be crap company anyway."
Mackenzie paused a few inches away, his eyes intense as he studied Jake in silence. "You look like shit, soldier."
"I'm not a soldier anymore."
"No, I suppose you're not." The two men stared at each other for several moments, and then Mackenzie lowered his voice. "I miss him too."
The band of pain that sat around Jake's chest tightened and he nodded, a lump in his throat. "Yeah," he muttered.
They shook hands, but when Jake would have pulled away, Mackenzie held on for a quick hug. "Don't be such a douche bag, and stay in touch." Mackenzie stepped back and cocked his head to the side. "Give your dad my best. He's a tough son of a bitch, so I wouldn't worry too much."
Jake nodded. "Will do."
"It's good you're back."
Jake nodded but remained silent.
Mackenzie smiled a million watts at Raine, his green eyes crinkled with warmth. "Take care, gorgeous, and I'll think about Christmas."
The door closed behind Mackenzie, leaving silence in his wake and the oppressive weight of two ice-blue eyes shooting daggers at Jake. Now that Mac was gone, she didn't make any effort to hide her anger.
Jake turned to her, set his leather bag onto the coffee table, and waited for the hammer to fall.
"I should kick your ass all over Crystal Lake, you know that, right?" She blew out a strand of hair that caught at the corner of her mouth. "And maybe I will, but first I'd like to hear all about your yearlong vacation."
Okay, so now anger burned beneath his leather collar. Fort Hood was no fucking vacation. The nightmares in his head were no fucking vacation. The guilt and pain that lived with him every single day were no fucking vacation.
"Are you serious?" He asked so softly, he knew she barely heard him, or else she might have taken the hint and backed off. "You think the last year has been a vacation?"
Instead, Raine took two steps forward and thumped him in the chest with the palm of her hand. "Yes, I do," she spat. "You took a vacation from life for the last year and a half while the rest of us slugged it out in the trenches." Her eyes shimmered with unshed tears, and she'd never looked more fierce. Never looked more delicate and frail or so damn lovely it made his stomach ache. "It's time to come clean, Edwards. Why have you stayed away so long?"
The hammer, it seemed, was heavy, and it didn't take long to strike.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It has taken Jake Edwards a year and a half to return back home to idyllic Crystal Lake after his twin brother, Jesse was killed in action overseas. Jake had been part of the same unit and survived, but there were days he wished he hadn't. Frankly, he had avoided going home. Too afraid to face the pain in his parents faces, but especially to be confronted with Jesse's widow, Raine. All Raine can feel is fury, when she sees Jake standing on her front lawn. All this time she never heard from him, she needed him and he wasn't there for her. Yet there is part of her that can't help being relieved he is here. Losing her husband and having his brother, her best friend, disappear from her life permanently, would have devastated her beyond repair. The past year and a half has done damage to everyone. Raine is is a mere shadow of her former self, functioning only to appease the outside world and to take care of her grieving in-laws, but barely cares to take care of herself. And pain and guilt have become so overwhelming for Jake, that he has completely shut off from everyone, attempting to hide in work. But when Jake's father becomes ill, and Jake finally returns home and is confronted with his parents and Raine, he realizes that he is done hiding. Buying and restoring an old local home is a catalyst for the reparations to be made in his life. With life long friends, with his parents and most importantly, with Raine, who he's loved all his life. She can see the monsters that haunt him and won't rest until they're gone, and there is only one way left for them to go........forward. ********** OMG..... Within a few pages I could feel myself getting emotionally yanked into this story. Such a devastating situation, with no easy resolution for anyone. You just know whatever scabs have formed have to come off before any of the wounds can heal properly.......for anyone involved. Only 25% into the story, I felt such a strong connection with the two main characters, that my emotions would run the gamut along with theirs. This was NOT what I expected when I read the title of this book, but what an amazing surprise! A family so intensely affected by the loss of one of their sons, lost in battle, who each in their own way, are trying to cope with the everyday life after. The parents try to avoid thinking too much about the actual loss, about what happened and attempt to focus on what they have left; one son, and a daughter in law, who has always been more like their own daughter. Raine who initially tries to find Jake for comfort, is forced to turn her grief inside and focuses on functioning instead. Mostly for the sake of her inlaws, for whom she is concerned, especially with Jake's absence. When her father in law becomes ill, even more responsibility comes Raine's way, she finally isn't able to hold herself together anymore, and her job falls a victim. Once Jake returns, and despite her anger at him, he returns some colour to her days, and her battle to regain herself begins. Most conflicted in his pain and grief is Jake. Not only is he the single one person who was present when his brother died, but he has some serious doubts as to the state of mind his brother was in, and this is a load he has to carry alone. No one wants to hear what happened and he is not sure he can bear to tell anyone, but he aches to unburden himself. He also lost his brother, his twin and best friend. He grieved for his parents and felt guilt towards them. But again, most of the conflict he felt was with respect to Raine. He loved his brother's wife, couldn't bear to see her in pain and was unsure how to be the friend he had always portrayed to be when all he wanted was to be the lover he didn't deserve to be. What struck me most about this book was how respectful it was of all of the different types of grief and how people deal with it. I really felt there was no judgement from the author, she just allowed the characters to handle it the way they needed to handle it. It may sound like it is a depressing story, but really it is not........it is quite a hopeful book, an incredibly realistic tale of the different ways of coping with loss and how we sometimes can be our own roadblocks in healing. I had previously read a few works by Juliana Stone, and I knew she could write and that her steamy style appealed to me, but this one blew me away!! The book is not only incredibly moving, it is very passionate and sensual in all the right places! I hope people will take the time to read this review and take my words to heart........this book is worth it!!! ¿A gorgeous, utterly compelling and intensely emotional read!!¿ **ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Sourcebooks in return for an honest review.**
This book us filled with so much emotion and inner struggle, you find yourself wanting to cry as they try to deal eiththeir heartbreaking pain. I loved their bond and Raine passion to build something more and Jakes deep love. Thisis an emotional love story and I could not out it down.
The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone is a phenomenal story. Ms. Stone has gifted readers with a well-written book and furnished it with an outstanding cast of characters. This is a Christmas story, yes, I read them year round, don't judge. I love the characters in this book. Jake is a little on the angsty side, but it's not overwhelming. Jake and his twin brother had always been best friends with Raine. Raine married Jake's brother. When Jake's brother is killed in the war, Jake and Raine spend a night together while they are both still grieving. Jake leaves the next day and finally returns after over a year has passed. Jake and Raine's story is loaded with drama, humor, sizzle and guilt. I enjoyed reading The Christmas He Loved Her and look forward to reading more from Juliana Stone in the future. The Christmas He Loved Her is book 2 of the Bad Boys Of Crystal Lake Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.
Loves this book so much! Great characters and story.
Reviewed by JoAnne Book provided by NetGalley for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book I love stories set at Christmas but this story was not what I was expecting at all. It started out very dark with Raine, Jesse’s widow, totally depressed, a mess and not living but trying to put up a good front for his parents. Jake, Jesse’s twin, comes back to town, hurting just as bad and making a complete mess of his life as well. Every time Raine and Jake are together they clash and even though they are each hurting as a result of Jesse’s death neither one is dealing with it very well. Their past continues to haunt them and it’s not until Raine is strong enough to fight for what she wants that their barriers start to crumble. Not that it’s all sweetness and light from there – far from it. But I could see glimmers of hope and what could be if they just got out of their own way especially Jake who tows “friend” Lily with him every time he’s back in Crystal Lake. Watching their love grow was heartwarming but oh so steamy at times too. It felt good to see both Raine and Jake make peace with their past and shared history but also put their grief for Jesse aside knowing he wouldn’t want them to live their lives the path that they were on. The characters had so many dimensions to them that it was hard to get to know them at first. There were a lot of twists and turns to the storyline and secrets were revealed one by one. There was family, friends, sorrow, grief, tears, hope, happiness, laughter, romance and love. There was wonderful closure due to the epilogue and I’m happy to see that we’ll be reunited with many of the characters we’ve met here and in book one once again when the series continues. Stone is a new to me author only having read book one in this series previously. I look forward to meeting up once again with the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake! Favorite Quote: In the space of a few short days, Jake had learned exactly what she needed, what she wanted and craved, and he played her with everything he had.
Great, emotional story. Can't wait for the next in the series
It was great visiting the cast of characters from Crystal Lake. After reading The Summer He Came Home and getting to know the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake, I was intrigued about Jake and his turbulent relationship with Raine. I understood perfectly from where Raine was coming from although I didn't know her complete story. It turns out that it was a doozy. Having spent most of her teenage age crushing on Jake, she ended up marrying the sweeter, more approachable Jesse. That's not to say that she didn't love Jesse, she just never got over her feelings for Jake. So when he returns and their relationship is nothing but a mess, she doesn't handle it well. Jake has always been attracted to Raine, more so after an unplanned encounter when they were just teenagers. Although he never resented his brother's decision to marry her, he never could get over her. Now that he is back, his emotions are all over the place. He knows he needs time to sort things through but being so close to Raine is not making things easier. I loved how Juliana Stone went about telling Raine and Jake's story. She didn't make it easy nor did she wrap it up with a pretty bow. It was hard, gritty and emotional. There were secrets shared, confessions made and passions unleashed. They each gave as good as they got and their chemistry along with their emotions jumped off the page. Although this is the second book in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series it can be read as a stand alone. Its focus is on the tumultuous relationship between Jake and Raine, how they overcome their issues and give in into the inevitable love that lies between them. I received this title in exchange of my honest opinion.
This book almost did me in. Every once in a while I come across a book that will have me in tears and feeling every emotion the characters do and completely absorbs me The Christmas He Loved Her is that book times a million. This is such a heartfelt, gut wrenching story. There are so many aspects and so many feelings that it was almost too much at times. I didn't know what to feel half of the time. "But right now, in this lifetime, in this moment... it's different. It's raw and it's hungry, and I don't think that I can live without you." ~Raine We start with Jake Edwards, who lost his brother overseas and blames himself, and Raine Edward his brothers widow. Raine and Jake have known each other since they were kids, and Raine fully admits that she was always in love with both Jake and Jesse. I have read the widow story line before, but it is so much harder to read when the late spouse was a likable, upstanding person. What the story conveys so well though, is that there are different kinds of love. I never feel like Jake and Raine were betraying Jesse. When you lose someone you love there is always pain to overcome, but where Raine and Jake are concerned there is almost too much pain to deal with. They are dealt so much more than the loss of a brother/husband and they almost miss their chance at happiness again. "'We're trying to survive,' she whispered through tears. I'm trying to survive." ~Raine At first Jake and Raine try to form a relationship without clearing their history first, and it works for a while. Despite their love for one another they both have too many secrets and feel too much blame to form a cohesive relationship. Raine is such a heartbreaking character, she has experienced enough grief for an army. The one thing she finds that she needs in her life is Jake. Not as a crutch or as a replacement for Jesse, but to make her heart whole again. With the circumstances she has been handed in life she finds that if you can find that all consuming love, it shouldn't matter who it is with, she needs to grab it and live her life without regrets. Jake on the other hand can't get past the guilt of watching his brother die in front of his eyes, and he feels that by falling for Raine he is taking over Jesse's life. These two have to learn to forgive themselves, Jesse and each other. This is such a beautiful story of two people finding acceptance and learning to love again. Juliana Stone is a fantastic writer and I am in awe of how captivating this story is. The Christmas He Loved Her is a book that sets the standards for all books in my opinion. Make sure to pick up a copy and fall in love with Jake and Raine the way I did! Happy Reading! *ARC provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest opinion*
Juliana Stone is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This is the second book in her Bad Boys trilogy and it is just as good as the first. In this installment we learn more about the characters of Jake and Rains. The pages are filled with angst, love, and guilt but never fear...there is a great he's! I highly recommend this book as well as the first. You should really read in order.
Wow!!! Juliana Stone has written a heart wrenching, painfully poignant book that will put you through a range of emotions. You don't know if you should root for Jake and Raine or be upset, because Raine fell in love with Jake so easily. Then you realize that we cannot control our emotions. Even though it maybe painful to accept, we have to realize that it is okay to love again after the death of a spouse. "The Christmas He Loved Her" is a passionate and moving romance that will make your heartache for Jake & Raine. This is a very satisfying read just remember to have your tissues ready.
Friendship, Loss, and Love...Get the tissue box! How can Jake Edwards move on with his life when the person he needs the most is his twin brother's wife? Raine Delgotto Edwards is the one woman he has always loved. Jake had accepted she would never be his. His brother's death twists him up and his longing for Raine adds another level of guilt. Loving Raine would be so wrong. He leaves town on bad terms to return a year and a half later. Jake hopes to make amends, and perhaps unburden himself of the torment causing his nightmares. If you're looking for a poignant contemporary romance that will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride then "The Christmas He Loved Her" will deliver in spades! A husband dies in a war and his tormented twin brother, who served with him, returns with a promise to keep. The promise comes with complication, especially when it places Raine, within Jake's reach, and it compounds his guilt. The long history between Jake, one of the `Bad Boys of Crystal Lake,' and the girl he's known since childhood produces an intricate love story. The hero and heroine are as complicated as their situation, which was obvious in "The Summer He Came Home," the first book in the series. Jake returns to Crystal Lake a year and half later after leaving on bad terms with Raine, which wasn't shown in previous book. Each of them has secrets from each other and the reader; they are slowly revealed as the story rapidly progresses. Of the two main characters, I found Jake the least demanding. His struggles are easily understandable. He's torn-up by the death of his brother and we, the reader, know there's something he's not ready to tell us. It's an affective story, and I felt it was skillfully executed. Jake's family and friends had their place and time. Their behavior and actions felt honest. Raine presented a problem for me. I had to suspend my disbelief and accept her character as she was. Even though she felt like the right person for Jake and they had a strong bond, it was hard to understand the ease she'd entered a relationship her husband's twin brother, especially with the small town setting. It is explained, yet I struggled, and it is my main glitch with the story. While not exactly a holiday novel to deliver the warm fuzzies, "The Christmas He Loved Her" offers a passionate and moving romance. It was a rewarding read. I am definitely interested in reading more work by Juliana Stone, and highly recommend this book for those who enjoy emotional wringers. ARC courtesy of Sourcebooks Casablanca via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Read on September 24, 2013 Book Info ebook Expected publication: October 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks edition language English URL seriesBad Boys of Crystal Lake #2 Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links AMAZON B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS All he wants this Christmas is her. In the small town of Crystal Lake, Christmas is a time for sledding, hot chocolate, and cozying up to the fire with those you love. For Jake Edwards, it’s also time to come home and face his past. He thought there would never be anything harder than losing his brother. Turns out there is: falling in love with his brother’s widow, Raine. Ever since they were little, Jesse was the Edwards brother who was always there for her, and Jake was the one who knew just how to push her buttons. Raine can’t imagine a life without them, which is why it was doubly decimating when Jake left town after his brother’s sudden death. Now he’s back and she doesn’t know whether to be mad or thrilled. Maybe both. Maybe it will be the perfect chance for both of them to finally find happiness again. My Thoughts First off The Christmas He Loved Her was an amazingly passionate, emotionally traumatic, honestly raw and totally intense book that was very easily gulped down in one days reading! Now having spent several days mulling over my reaction to the story and how the characters brought it to life can truly say that the author surpassed my expectations for Jake and Raine's story. Childhood friends turned lovers Jesse Edwards married Raine Delgatto young and by 30 he was gone and she was a grieving widow whose life was turned totally inside out with the loss of the one person she always turned to for support. Jake Edwards was also close to Jesse's widow and when they lost his twin brother it devastated him to the core causing him to lose his way for over a year, now he has returned to Crystal Lake sure of only one thing that the lifelong attraction that he has had for Raine is stronger than ever. This story of pain and loss kept me transfixed, my heart broke for the Edwards family as much as it did for Raine and it was almost more than I could bear at times when faced with just how deeply Jesse's death affected them all in so many ways. Top that off with the family having to deal with Steven Edwards, Jesse and Jakes father, first being stricken with and now recuperating from prostrate cancer the burden on this family was almost to much to bear! The delicate balance that the author has woven together in this blend of tense emotional highs and lows is what makes a contemporary romance such a unique reading experience because it allows us to fully embrace everything the characters feel from joy to sorrow and back again. This was a struggle to read at times because it was so darkly realistic but do not think it is only about loss and pain because this is also a story of joy and healing, a story of love and laughter, a story of friendships old and new and most of all a story of rebirth for two wounded people who finally allow themselves to let their grief and guilt go replacing it with love that has always been between them but never given expression to. The Christmas He Loved Her is all about second chances and fully satisfies the most ardent romantic hearts desire to see love fully expressed and embraced! [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
Great book! Jake Edwards is back in Crystal Lake after a long absence. He’s home to make amends to his sister-in-law, Raine, and for his brother, Jesse. Emotions running high, Jake must deal with the guilt he feels over his brother’s death, the anger and hurt his absence caused to his family and Raine, and the feelings between him and Raine that have always been there since they were young. The Christmas That He Loved Her brought me to tears several times throughout the book. To be able to evoke that kind of emotion from a reader is, in my opinion, the sign of a fabulous book. It’s definitely one for the keeper shelf.
I have no idea how to start this review, but to say this book is a very emotional one. I had tears running down my face several times, while reading this book. I actually looked at my husband during one scene and told him how I could not believe Juliana has me crying over fictional characters. I felt their pain though and wanted to comfort both Jake and Raine. I knew it was going to be emotional, when Jake and Raine were introduced in the first book. The last chapter of the previous book alone made Jake and Raine’s story not going to be a easy one. Juliana Stone made Jake’s and Raine’s story even more emotional, when the truth came out what happened to Raine. (How I felt for her…I just wanted to hug her and tell her I was here for her) Raine went through a lot in this book and you could tell she went through a lot during the time frame that Jake and her did not speak. It was eating her alive and her mother, who was never there for her, notice a change in Raine. She wanted to be there for her and Raine did not want her help. Raine’s in-laws were even noticing something was wrong. Jake was being a major jerk in this book, but he did have his reasons. He had his own demons inside of him still brewing from his twin brother’s death, that he felt he could have prevented. He was trying to fight over his feelings of his brother’s wife. The past creeped out and told the story of how Raine, Jake, and Jesse and the rest of the gang got together. The one scene that Raine caught Jake doing something broke my heart for her. How could he not tell what her intentions were? Some guys are clueless. ….. Grrr!!! There was so much going on between both Raine and Jake that you just wanted them both to finally have a happily ever after. Raine was so confused in this story on why Jake never talked to her, but he talked to the Barbie looking girl, he brought home for the holidays. Jake had no clue on what was going on with Raine and why she looked so skinny, but he did try to be there for her…but his inner voice kept telling him, he shouldn’t. Juliana Stone gives you a story of two characters, who were meant to be with each other from the beginning, but they both were confused on what to do. This is touching story of two people, who get a second-chance at love. The second-chance is not going to be easy, but no one ever said it was easy. I liked how Juliana was able to write this story with the holiday themed to it, while she wrote it during a different season. This book definitely put me in the Christmas mood…and it’s only September. I adore Jake and Raine even more after this book and look forward to Mac’s story. I need some more of the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake. I give this book 5 full moons and highly recommend it to contemporary romance readers out there. Make sure to read the first book though. You will need to know about ALL of these Bad Boys. I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
What was in the bag?