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Brady Collins is juggling full-time fatherhood with the booming auto repair business he runs out of his barn. His ex-wife's sudden death has shaken him, but the devastating news that follows leaves him reeling: Sam is not his biological son.
When Sam's wealthy maternal grandparents decide they want custody of the child, Brady knows he's in for the fight of his life. Brady's attorney tips him off that one major life change would virtually assure him of winning guardianship of baby Sam at the final hearing: the stability of an impending marriage. And his friend Hope is willing to step in as the loving and devoted fiancée.
Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has been driven by a solitary goal her entire life, and she's finally been offered her dream job—in Atlanta. Unfortunately, her arrangement with Brady requires her presence in Copper Creek, and she is faced with missing the chance of a lifetime or standing in the way of a dear friend’s dreams.
Both Hope and Brady would give their lives for beautiful Sam. But can they give their trust to one another? With this new novel in the Blue Ridge Romance series, Honeysuckle Dreams shines light on the complicated and beautiful angles of love.
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
Playing house was just a little too easy for Hope Daniels. Her special chicken casserole waited in the oven, covered with foil; butter beans were simmering on the stovetop; and the yeasty smell of baked rolls hung in the air. Over by the living room window, six-month-old Sam cooed happily from his Pack 'n Play.
She walked over to him, smiling, as her friend's baby kicked happily on his back, making the monkeys on his mobile dance.
"Whatcha doing, sugar? Oh, you're so cute. Yes, you are. Yes, you are! Your daddy sure hit the jackpot with you."
Sam gave a toothless grin, his pudgy cheeks bunching up, his blue eyes sparkling, and she couldn't resist a second longer. She scooped him up and buried her nose in his fresh, clean baby smell.
"Where's that daddy of yours, huh? He's just so late! He's a hard worker, isn't he? Oh, yes, he is!"
She treated Sammy to a session of rapid-fire neck kisses until he was belly-laughing. Oh, this baby! Brady had offered over and again to pay her for watching the little darling, but she'd be darned if he shouldn't be charging her.
A text dinged in.
Sorry! Customer running late. Be in soon.
She one-handed a text, assuring him all was well, and pocketed her phone. "Daddy'll be home soon for some snuggles, won't he, little Sam."
"Ma, ma, ma!"
Hope's smile drooped a little as she pressed a kiss to Sammy's forehead. It was just babbling, she knew. Probably meaningless. But the idea that he might be missing his mama made her chest ache.
Audrey, Brady's ex-wife, had passed suddenly in a car accident just shy of four weeks ago. Hope — and most of Copper Creek — had no love lost for the woman. Audrey hadn't been a very kind soul, but by all appearances she'd been a decent mother.
Now Brady was juggling full-time fatherhood along with his booming auto repair business, which he ran out of his old barn.
Hope was happy to watch Sam when she wasn't filling a shift at WKPC in Atlanta. Other ladies about town had pitched in too, for a morning or an afternoon. But that couldn't go on indefinitely. Brady really needed to find full-time care for the little guy. Sammy needed stability. Routine.
The baby tugged on her ear, fondling it for comfort the way he did sometimes.
"Where's Boo Bear, huh? Where's your little lovey?" Hope wandered back over to the crib and bent for the blue stuffed bear that wore a fraying woven hat.
"Here he is."
Sam clutched Boo Bear, and Hope settled in Brady's recliner, a comfy leather thing that all but swallowed her up. She set Sam on her lap, supporting his weight with her crossed leg — he wasn't quite sitting up by himself.
She played pat-acake with him, chuckling when he did. She couldn't help it. He had the most infectious laugh. "Wheels on the Bus" was next. He liked the swish, swish, swish and the beep, beep, beep parts best, so she did those twice.
"Oh, you are just such a happy guy, aren't you?" He was faring much better the past couple of days. She smoothed down his freshly shampooed hair. It was light and fine and baby soft. His skin like a rose petal.
He stared at her with wide, blue eyes that melted her heart. Then he felt for his pacifier, hanging from a ribbon attached to his sleeper, and plopped it into his mouth.
"Getting sleepy, little guy?" It was only eight o'clock, but he'd awakened early from his afternoon nap, and she knew he hadn't been sleeping well at night. All she had to do was look into his daddy's tired eyes.
Sam laid his head on Hope's shoulder, setting his chubby little hand over her heart. Her womb gave a heavy sigh. Oh yeah, this was just a little too easy.
* * *
Brady Collins closed up his barn as Mr. Lewis started his candy-apple red Ferrari 488 GTB. The businessman regularly put the twin-turbo engine to the test at the track in Dawsonville, and the engine had been in need of general maintenance.
Brady gave the man a wave as the car turned down the gravel drive, letting his ears fill with the hum of a perfectly tuned engine. Music to his ears.
He snapped the padlock and started toward his house, checking his watch. Shoot. He felt bad running late like this. Hated taking advantage of a good friend, being dependent on Hope and everyone else. He had to find a nanny or something.
It had been a month now. He should be doing better than this. Single moms did it all the time and made it look easy as pie. But when he was at work he felt guilty he wasn't with Sam, guilty he was putting out one of his neighbors. And when he was at home he worried about shirking his job. He'd worked long and hard to build a reputation with the local sports car enthusiasts. He didn't want to blow it now.
But his heart broke for his son. Sammy had regressed when Audrey died. He'd been fussy and restless the first couple weeks and was no longer sleeping through the night. The pediatrician had assured him nothing was physically wrong. It was just so hard to watch his boy go through this and feel so helpless to comfort him.
Brady reached the walk that led to his two-story farmhouse. The sun was only now sinking behind the north Georgia mountains, offering a reprieve from the sweltering June heat. He swiped his palm across his forehead, probably greasing himself up good. He needed a shower and food, but that would have to wait till Sammy was down for the night.
His pace picked up at the thought of his boy. Hard as this full-time father gig was, it was his son he longed for at the end of a busy day.
The kitchen light was on, shining through the window over the sink, beckoning. He liked it best when Hope tended to the baby. Not only did she come to the house, making it much easier on him, but she clearly enjoyed taking care of Sammy.
Brady opened the back door and pulled off his boots. Heavenly smells wafted his way, making his stomach growl. Something savory, a hint of garlic and yeast. Whatever it was, it was sure to beat the Hot Pocket he'd been fixing to zap in the microwave.
"Hope?" He padded across the kitchen, the wood floor squeaking in predictable spots. He stopped on the threshold of the living room and took in the sight.
Hope was curled in his recliner, sleeping. Sam was out like a light, his little hand holding a fistful of Hope's dark locks. The lamplight cast a golden glow over them, and heaven's bells if it wasn't the most beautiful sight he'd seen in months.
Hope's hand rested on the baby's back protectively, and her long eyelashes swept over the tops of her cheeks. Sam was tucked under her chin, his mouth slightly parted, the pacifier dangling precariously.
Brady approached quietly, not wanting to give her a fright. "Hope?"
The floor squeaked again, this time louder, and her eyes opened. They darted around before lighting on him, awareness settling in her green eyes.
"I fell asleep," she said quietly. "What time is it?" "Eight thirty. Sorry I'm so late."
"You're fine." She shifted, glancing down at Sam. "I should wake him, or he'll be up in the night."
"Let's not. He didn't sleep well last night. Probably needs the extra z's."
Brady reached for Sam, and his heart skipped a beat as the back of his hand grazed her inappropriately. "Sorry." He shifted his hands, his face heating, but there wasn't a better way to pick up the baby.
She gave an awkward laugh as she lifted Sammy, placing him in Brady's arms. Color bloomed in her cheeks, but her gaze was fixed on the sleeping baby.
Sam's eyes remained closed, but he'd latched onto his pacifier and was sucking away as Brady tucked him against his body.
"Thanks again for watching him."
"Trust me, it's my pleasure. He ate at seven thirty. And your dinner's in the oven."
"You didn't have to do that, Hope."
Her eyes sparkled as she stood. "But aren't you glad I did?" "You have no idea."
She leaned close, brushing a knuckle over Sammy's cheek, gazing adoringly at the baby. "Bye, little guy."
She pressed a kiss to Sam's forehead, coming close enough for Brady to notice the golden flecks in her green eyes, the feminine scent of her.
She stepped away and started gathering her purse and some work she'd brought along, her dark-brown hair spilling over her shoulder. "Same time tomorrow?"
He gave a pained look. "I hate to ask two days in a row."
"Then don't." Hope smiled saucily and waved over her shoulder as she left.
Brady took Sam upstairs and held him for an extra minute before setting a kiss on his forehead and laying him in his crib.
His stomach gave a sharp growl, making him decide on supper before shower. He headed back downstairs, made sure the baby monitor was on, and dug into the casserole. He moaned aloud at the juicy chunks of chicken, smothered in gravy and topped with something crispy.
He ate until he was uncomfortably full and was just rinsing his plate when a knock sounded at the front door. He dried his hands on a towel and went to answer it.
His eyes widened at the sight of the woman on his front porch. "Heather."
His former sister-in-law couldn't look any more different from Audrey, with her mousy brown hair and petite frame.
She had a warm smile, though, and she employed it now. "Hi, Brady." Her eyes flickered over his dirty coveralls, and her face fell a little. "Sorry, I should've called."
"Not at all." He opened the door wider and stepped aside. "Come on in. It's good to see you." He'd seen her at Audrey's funeral, of course, but that had been a strained event, everyone still in shock, little time to talk.
"Can I get you something? Tea? Coffee?"
"Coming right up." He slipped into the kitchen, and Heather followed. "Jeff's not with you?"
"He's home with the kids. Where's Sammy?"
Shoot. That was probably why she'd come. "I just put him down, but I can get him up —"
"No, no. Don't wake him. Maybe I can just peek in on him?"
"Of course. Up the stairs, second door on the right."
The stairs squeaked as she went up. Brady started the coffee brewing and got out two mugs and milk and sugar.
Heather lived a couple towns over in Dalton, where Audrey had moved after the divorce. His ex-wife had been a late-in-life baby, making Heather ten years her senior. Heather had always been kind to Brady even through the divorce, and though she'd never said as much, he sensed she'd understood her sister's flaws better than most.
He wondered why she was here, if not to spend time with Sam. An uncomfortable foreboding filled his chest, but he shook the feeling away.
Once the coffee was poured, he brought the mugs into the living room and sat in his recliner. The smells of motor oil and brake dust filled his nostrils, making him wish he'd taken the time to shower earlier.
He could hear Heather murmuring softly to Sam through the baby monitor, though he couldn't make out the words. His eyes burned at her tenderness. Apparently she'd exhausted that particular trait in the Parker gene pool, leaving nothing for Audrey. He had no idea how Heather had turned out to be such a wonderful person, but he was glad she'd found a good match in Jeff.
He heard her on the stairs and looked up in time to see her pressing a knuckle to the corner of her eye.
"He's so precious," she said as she took a seat on the end of the sofa closest to him. Her feet barely reached the floor. "I could just stare at him all night. Is he doing any better?" "I think so. He's not fussy like he was. And he slept through the night a few days ago."
"I hate that he'll grow up without Audrey. I know she had her ... faults. But she did love that little guy."
"I know she did. And I'll make sure he knows that. And so can you. We should set up a schedule for visits. I want him to know his family, Heather."
She averted her eyes, reaching for her coffee. "I'd like that."
"Do you need milk or sugar?"
"No, this is just fine."
"How are Jeff and the kids?"
"They're faring well. The kids are keeping me busy with baseball and swimming lessons, and Jeff's business is thriving."
"Glad to hear that. How are your parents? They seemed pretty grief-stricken at the funeral, understandably. I hardly knew what to say." The Parkers had never seemed to like him much, though he hadn't a clue why. But they weren't the warmest people, so maybe it wasn't him at all.
Something passed over Heather's features that made the foreboding unfurl in his gut again.
"Well. That's what I wanted to talk to you about." She set her coffee on the coaster and laced her fingers tightly in her lap. Her brown eyes were filled with pity.
"What's wrong? Do they want visitation rights or something? I don't have a problem with that. Like I said, I want Sam to know his family."
According to Audrey, the Parkers had been distant and unaffectionate parents, but visitation was only fair. He wanted his son to know his grandparents, and they did love him in their own way. Plus, Audrey's death had hit them hard, and the baby was the only piece of her they had left.
But judging by the dread rolling off Heather in waves, this wasn't about visitation rights. "You're scaring me, Heather. What's going on?"
"Brady ..." She closed her eyes and gave her head a shake. "I've been round and round with myself about coming to you with this, but I just couldn't keep it to myself another day. They've hired a lawyer. They want custody of Sam."
Brady reared back, his thoughts scrambling. A useless cloud of fear spread like poison through him.
"They've already filed the petition. You'll be getting served in a day or two, and I just felt you deserved to be forewarned."
"That's ridiculous, Heather. I'm his father. They can't take him away."
She gave him a troubled look, her fingers twisting in her lap. "That's just it, Brady ... They're saying you're not Sam's biological father."
His lips parted as his heart kicked into high gear. He shook his head, his thoughts in a whirlwind. He and Audrey hadn't been married when she'd conceived. They'd gone to the same high school, but that was years ago, and he'd barely known her before that night. She'd pursued him hard, and he'd been too filled with grief — and alcohol — to resist. The one night that steadfast, reliable Brady loses his mind and of course this happens.
He'd woken the next morning alone and full of regret. He'd been taught better, and he was deeply ashamed of himself. Never again, he promised himself, promised God. But five weeks later a phone call had assured him that once was all it took.
Audrey hadn't been with anyone else since she'd broken up with her boyfriend almost a year before, she told him. The baby was his. She couldn't bear to give it up.
Brady didn't want that either. Audrey had seemed nice enough. They got to know each other over the next couple months, and he felt compelled to make this work. He proposed on her birthday, and she seemed truly happy as she threw her arms around him, saying yes over and over again.
"That's absurd." His voice sounded thready and strained. His heart raced, and his mind was spinning. Spinning out other scenarios. Scenarios where she might've lied to him. She'd been capable, he knew that now. But she wouldn't have lied about this.
Heather shifted on the sofa. "Mom said Audrey told her some things one night when she'd had too much to drink — that she was already pregnant when she met you."
"That's not true." If he said it, maybe it would chase away this fog of doubt enclosing him. "He has my eyes. My chin. Everyone says so." He had the insane urge to run upstairs and scoop Sammy into his arms. But that wouldn't protect either of them from this nightmare.
"Listen, Brady ... I don't know if it's true or not. Maybe it was just drunken rambling. But I thought you had a right to know what's going on. A little forewarning before they ..."
Her words hung in the space between them, the pity in her eyes doing nothing to ease his fears.
"What? Before they what?" His tone was a little sharp, but he didn't have the capacity to feel guilty about it.
"As part of the custody complaint, my parents made a motion requesting a paternity test." She gentled her voice. "I'm afraid the judge is ordering it."
He blinked. How could they make him do this? "My name's on the birth certificate! I'm his father! I've been taking care of him. I'm all he has now. Your parents have only seen him a dozen times in his whole life."
"I'm sure you'll have legal recourse even if the paternity test is negative. Surely."
"It won't be negative. I'm his father."
But what if he wasn't?
Fear took full-fledged flight. He let himself go there for just a second. Finding out he wasn't Sam's father. Being forced to turn him over to the Parkers. Having no legal rights to see his boy again. The feeling of devastation left him drained. A knot tightened his throat, and his eye sockets stung.
Excerpted from "Honeysuckle Dreams"
Copyright © 2018 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
HONEYSUCKLE DREAMS is part of Ms. Hunter's Blue Ridge Romance series but it easily stands alone. I fell in love with Brady and Hope and sweet little Sam, though Hope did get on my nerves at first with her over-the-top baby talk (which is realistic, but who wants to read it for chapters? Oh, you do! You do! Yes, you do!) The thing that bothered me most about the book was the use of "soft swear words" that I know doesn't bother a lot of people, but more conservative readers will be bothered by it. Some might be bothered by the use of words like sex and sexy but it was between a married couple, and the bedroom door was shut before any marital relations were played out. There were plenty of hot kisses though. I think this book was definitely the best of the three books I've read in this series, (I guess the first one was marketed as stand-alone, and technically this is second in the series, but...) they all do stand-alone. Readers will want to read Sweetbriar Cottage and Blue Ridge Sunrise and I can't wait to read On Magnolia Lane (November 2018). Fans of Ms. Hunter's steamy romances will definitely want to read HONEYSUCKLE DREAMS. This couple kept me up at night as I couldn't put the book down. I received a copy of HONEYSUCKLE DREAMS free. All opinions are my own.
4 stars- This is another heartfelt story by Denise Hunter. Brady Collins would do anything to keep custody of his son Sammy, including marrying his best friend Hope. Hope has been hurt by love before & doesn’t want to risk that hurt again, so a marriage of convenience to help her best friend seems like a no brainer. She’ll get the ready made family she’s always wanted without having to worry about the love part. At first the idea of their engagement and marriage seemed far fetched. But then I thought about how many marriages are still arranged to this day for a variety of reasons & figured it might not be as far fetched as I thought. Although I did struggle a bit with the idea of purposely deceiving some of their friends and family. Brady and Hope have a lot of baggage that they each bring into their marriage. Brady has a heart of gold & my heart hurt for him as the hits kept coming for him. But I admired him for continuing to persevere through it all. I also sympathized with Hope through her struggles. I could relate to many of her anxieties. Overall this was a sweet story that would make a great summer read. My favorite book of the series so far. I look forward to reading the third book and learning more about Pastor Jack. I received a copy of this book for free. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
Brady is such an honorable, go to the end of the world type of guy. So, when "his" baby, Sam, is to be taken from him because his ex-wife's sudden death has the maternal grandparents wanting the baby. But Sam doesn't want the baby to go live with such evil people. What to do? Then his long time friend, Hope Daniels, agrees to an "arrangement" otherwise known as a marriage of convince so that Sam can live with his dad, Brady. The story of how to people are the best of friends and then fall in love all because of a baby. A modern day romance with a few twists and turns in the game of love and honor. *This book was provided for review by The Fiction Guild*
Contemporary marriage of convenience stories are often unbelievable, not feasible, but somehow I find them completely romantic. Denise Hunter is one of my go-to authors if I want to get swept away by a saccharine sweet romance. We all need a little fluff in our lives and her stories are just that. It's not an insult to say her books are fluff, in fact they've made Hallmark movies based on her novels. I'd say that's pretty awesome. In that same vein, Hallmark movies are the fluff of TV movies. Uplifting and just so much fun! You don't need to think about your problems, but smile at the perky heroines and heroes with perfect teeth and a heart to match. Brady Collins and Hope Daniels have known each other for most of their adult lives and surprise their small town by announcing their sudden engagement in hopes of aiding Brady's custody fight for his infant son. The story that unfolds is rather fast-paced and months pass in the space of a chapter. It was a little jarring, but still enjoyable. I very much appreciated that the main character went to therapy and struggled with mental health. It lends some realism to the story that you don't often see in Christian romances. The romance isn't really anything I haven't seen before, but I really never get tired of watching characters fall on love on the page. Honeysuckle Dreams is a second story in a series set in the south, but it can be read as a stand alone. You can fairly smell the peaches ripening in the Georgia orchards. Hunter can definitely pen a southern love story! I really think this could be the next Hallmark movie! *I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*
What a refreshing contemporary love story that starts out with friendship and develops without the characters realizing it. This is the second book in the series but also works as a stand-alone. Brady and Hope are such relatable characters with real fears and that have left them scarred. Can they find healing through trusting God and taking chances with their hearts or will fear win this battle? That is why you want to read this to find out. Brady’s son Sam is the icing on the cake in this novel, as he captures your heart. I love that his happiness is the main focus of the adults that love him. This book deals with the difficult subjects of panic attacks, anxiety, and death in a thoughtful and compassionate way. Denise Hunter has a gift of telling a story with truth and reality instead of all fluff. It will leave you in tears at times, as it touches on how we put up walls and hurt the people we care about the most. I cannot wait for book three releasing in November. You don’t want to miss this series. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
Once again, I have the pleasure of reading another fantastic Denise Hunter novel. This is book 2 in her series and I loved it just as much as the first one! This one brings us back to the lives of some amazing characters! Ms. Hunter created a novel that has not only pulled me in, but really made me think a lot of what I’ve gone through with custody battles of my own.I loved Hope and Brady in this book! They really put Sam first and that pulled at my heart strings in so many ways. When it comes to kids, they need to be first and foremost, and Brady? Wow. I loved his devotion to Sam no matter what. Watching Hope and Brady together was so refreshing! Hope was willing to sacrifice in order for Brady to achieve gaining custody. That really pulled at my heartstrings for sure. Watching them come to terms with their relationship, seeing them grow together for each other and for Sam, really kept me hooked! Ms. Hunter’s 4 star worthy novel is another keeper, in my opinion. With life like characters, an inspiring plot line and a few twists thrown in for good measure, you won’t be sorry you picked this one up! I can’t wait to see what book 3 has in store for us! Hats off and two thumbs up to the talented Denise Hunter. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.*
This is a contemporary "marriage of convenience" story...and I loved it! Hope and Brady have been friends for a long time and have only thought of each other as such...until Brady finds out he could lose custody of his young son. An assumption is made, not corrected, and this leads to the two friends marrying. Brady needs a mother for his son, Sam and Hope is looking for a family of her own. They believe they can fulfill a need for each other. But, as in all relationships, difficulties arise. Brady's wife lied to him, divorced him, and then died. Hope's high school sweetheart died suddenly. They're both hurting and scared. They have to figure out how to trust each other. I really enjoyed this story! The friendly banter between Hope & Brady, the love they both have for Sam, the romance that forms between them, it's a fun story that's well written! I liked seeing the characters grow and lean on God for their needs. Well done Denise Hunter! Looking forward to On Magnolia Lane!!
I loved the premise of this story: Brady Collins needs a wife to secure custody of his baby boy, Hope Daniels never wants to fall in love again so a ready-made family sounds like a dream. This was such a quick read, and I think it was my favorite Denise Hunter novel thus far! The characters were multi-dimensional and flawed. There was great conflict, which ebbed and flowed well. There were several conflict-inducing secondary characters. Such a fun page turner ~ highly recommend Honeysuckle Dreams by Denise Hunter!
Wow this book really tugs at the heart strings and has a twist I never expected. I was brought to tears and found myself reading as fast as I could, I had to know now. Loveable characters, true friendship, family love and family turmoil makes this so much more than just a love story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you Thomas Nelson and NetGalley I so enjoyed the book.
This is a different kind of romance. It definitely doesn’t begin the way you might think. But things seem to go along well once Brady and Hope decide to get married and the romance brews pretty hot. So I figured what could possibly go wrong, but I wasn’t even halfway through the book. I knew something had to happen to stop things from flowing so smoothly. What that is you will have to read to find out. If you enjoy Denise Hunter or romance you will enjoy this book. A copy of this book was given to me through BookLook Blogger program. All opinions are my own.
“What am I going to do? I can’t stand the thought of losing him,” Brady laments about Sam in Denise Hunter’s novel, Honeysuckle Dreams. ~ What ~ Second in the A Blue Ridge Romance series, this three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those interested in a romance regarding marrying for the sake of a child and not love. Including slang words such as darn and heck, topics of drug addiction, premarital sex, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending has acknowledgments, author’s biography, and advertisements. In this current-day trilogy, divorced high-end car mechanic, Brady Collins, has learned that to keep custody of his six-month son, it is recommended he marry. Although he got divorced from his wife and she died, he finds out from a paternity test that he is not Sammy’s father and that his in-laws want custody. Brady’s best friend, Hope, offers to marry him so not only he gets to keep the boy, but also she gets a ready-made husband and child without having to deal with the love issue. As time progresses and the two marry, her fears of the past overshadow the happiness a blessed marriage offers. ~ Why ~ Focusing on love being forefront in relationships, the story shows that even non-biological parents can offer support and unconditional love. I liked the author’s effort at the romantic and sexual energy between the protagonists while not being too risqué in the details. ~ Why Not ~ Those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ may not see the validity of praying and trusting in God which is minorly mentioned throughout the book. Others who do not like romantic stories about heartbreak and how to overcome the past may not be interested in this type of read. ~ Wish ~ Although I have not read any of the author’s other books, I was often frustrated reading this one. If it was not the one-night-stand pregnancy, rocky marriage, instant divorce, and then oddly-arranged remarriage within a year’s time, it was the rush to print that included miswords like dishwater instead of dishwasher (page 52) and Heather quoting her name when it should have been Audrey’s (page 220). I thought the writing was campy and unrealistic when it came to Brady and Hope being best friends for so long, yet she never confronted him when he married Audrey nor was he aware of her past fears. ~ Want ~ If you like unrealistic romances that are on the cutesy-wootsey side complete with baby talk, this could be your ticket, but I doubt I will read another of Hunter’s novels as this one was rushed and had an awkward premise. Thanks to Book Look Bloggers for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.
I enjoy anything Denise Hunter writes! This series is as good as her others and I can't wait for more.
This book by Denise Hunter is part of a series of books within the Blue Ridge Romance. The stories are set in northern Georgia, close to the Tennessee border. Many of the locations I can relate to considering I'm very close to the Chattanooga area. This book is a continuation of the previous book, telling the story about Brady, Zoe's half-brother. His ex-wife died tragically and he is desperate to keep his son from his in-laws. Problem is, he discovers that if he is married he has a better chance of keeping Sam. Lo and behold, Hope, the woman who is his sister's best friend enters the picture. The book was a good read, a nice dialogue between the characters and the bits of drama with Sam and Hope's job. However, I felt almost like the story didn't have enough depth. I'm still confused as to the ex-wife's story and when they divorced. Obviously I missed it at some point. They needed a story and thought that this plot line had enough to develop the story. In a way, I think it did. But on the other hand, it just didn't have quite enough punch. Therefore, I consider it a nice and easy read in which you were able to see how Brady was able to continue with his life. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing, via BookLook Bloggers, and was under no obligation to post a review.
Honeysuckle Dreams reminds me of Denise's earlier books, and that's an entirely good thing. The last couple of books didn't pull me in like they used to, but this one had me hooked right away! Brady and Hope's modern marriage of convenience seemed realistic and not at all contrived which was very refreshing! Neither of them had the easiest childhood, and both were still working through the scars of their pasts. Because of this, both of them entered their marriage with their eyes wide open but still unsure where everything would lead. Both of them loved Brady's son Sam, and they were willing to do whatever was necessary to give him the happy childhood that he deserved. As Brady slowly romanced Hope and their relationship became all too real, he had to decide if he was willing to risk opening up to someone else after his first failed marriage. Hope's previous relationship ended more tragically, and she dealt with a lot of anxiety from that. Her inner turmoil caused a lot of the issues in her marriage, but she was still a likable character, and she's very relatable in her inability to face her own issues. I appreciate that Denise didn't shy away from showing how anxiety and PTSD can manifest itself at the most unexpected times. It's a very real issue that many people deal with every day, and the subject is given the weight and respect that it deserved. As is the case with a lot of romance novels, Brady's and Hope's differences could've been handled with one honest conversation, but then we wouldn't have all of the wonderful tension and drama that led up to such a sweet ending! It was definitely worth the wait, and the conclusion is very satisfying. I, for one, appreciate a good epilogue too! I highly recommend Honeysuckle Dreams for both those that already love Denise and those who are just discovering her beautiful stories! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
4 1/2 stars. After Blue Ridge Sunrise, I was really looking forward to reading Brady's story. It did not disappoint. This is a sweet story of friends to more. Hope is a really good friend to Brady. She's already watching Brady's baby son (the baby's mom. and Brady's ex-wife, died recently), and she loves doing it. Due to some other circumstances, Brady and Hope get engaged and later married. I loved seeing how their relationship developed, even with everything against them. Highly recommend! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This is a book unlike any I have read before. To put that into perspective I’ve probably read hundreds. I was filled with joy, almost brought to tears, and biting my nails nervously. Let me just say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I absolutely loved the characters and loved how I got to know them a lot more through out the story. I originally met Brady and Hope in Blue Ridge Sunrise and loved them then. Don’t worry, if you haven’t read the first book I think you’ll still enjoy this one. I was taken on a journey through heartbreak and hope and enjoyed every minute of it. Both characters had some rude awakenings and they both had to learn to trust in God to get them through it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Contemporary Romance and something that is one of a kind. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the Blue Ridge Romance series. I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins Publishers and was in no way forced to post a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Denise Hunter produces a great story again! This story is part of the Blue Ridge series. This book focuses on Brady and Hope who are two secondary characters in the first book in the series. You do not have to read the previous book in the series to read this one, but the first one will give you some insight into this book. This book examines how we can let fear limit us instead of letting God lead and direct our paths. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it! If you have read the previous books, you will be able to see a glimpse in the lives of the other characters. Ms. Hunter gives the reader a romantic, thought-provoking tale and you will not be disappointed! ***I was given a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review. This is my honest opinion. Even though I received this copy free, I have purchased her books before.
This is the second book in the Blue Ridge Romance series but it worked great as a standalone novel. I have not read the first book in the series but the author explained everything in a way that I never felt confused or as if I was missing information. The story follows Hope and Brady as Brady finds himself in a difficult situation where he needs to go to court for custody of his son. It’s a modern day marriage of convenience story that I found very unique and endearing. The characters in the story felt very real and I truly cared about them. The romance in this story is slow burning and the timing was perfect. I loved that it was a love that began as a friendship. I also really appreciated the way the author handled the intimacy issues that were inevitable in the plot…it was handled in a clean way but also was realistic to the relationship and situation that the characters were in. The story kept me gripped from the beginning to the end and I am eager to read more books by Denise Hunter. I highly recommend this sweet story! My Rating: 4 stars I received this book from the author/publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Denise Hunter has created one of the most memorable characters in Honeysuckle Dreams. Brady Collins, the hero, is such a good guy with the most loving and selfless heart. Swoon worthy in every way! The heroine, Hope Daniels, has a generous heart and is willing to go the extra mile to help Brady keep his son when the evil grandparents sue Brady for custody. The love story Brady and Hope share is believable and so very sweet. Of course there is a crisis situation that threatens to ruin Brady’s and Hope’s relationship, but if Brady doesn’t melt your heart as he fights for Hope, nothing can. Honeysuckle Dreams is the second book in the Blue Ridge Romance series, but, even though characters from the first book make appearances, Hunter does a good job of giving you just enough details so you won’t be lost. It's sweet, clean, and re-readable.
Reading this book was a shear pleasure! I have yet to meet a Denise Hunter book that I didn't thoroughly enjoy but I think this one was her best one yet. The characters were well written, very real, very human. My heart went out to Brady. He had so many sad things that happened to him in his life. But so did Hope....two hurting people with pasts that affected their future. Hope lived with a fear from her high school days. She had lost a fiancé that died right in front of her. Where was her faith to allow herself to love again? And Brady had been abandoned by not only his biological mother, but his first wife. What was wrong with him, he wondered, that those that should be supportive left him in the dust? How will they ever be able to trust and love again? A combination of a paternity test, courtroom drama, and a "marriage of convenience" come together to make this a "must stay up late reading" novel to see what happens next! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher/author but was not required to write a review.
Such a great book! Brady and Hope are probably the sweetest characters I have read about lately...with reading some heavier theological books, I needed an lighter read. ;) Although some of the subject matter is hard (custody battles), the romance in Honeysuckle Dreams was effortless...at least, that's the way it seemed. After Brady Collins' ex-wife, Audrey dies, her parents attempt to take custody of baby Sam, leaving Brady shell shocked and afraid of the future for them both. Enter his long time friend, Hope, who already helps with babysitting Sam from time to time. Hope is seeking her big break in radio and just as the offer comes, she is hit with the shocking news from Brady. Hope is willing to help, however she can. When Brady's lawyer sees the ring (that doesn't belong to her) that Hope accidentally gets stuck on her ring finger, Brady takes a chance and doesn't correct his lawyer on the assumption that Hope is now his fiance'. Obviously during a time of crisis, Hope and Brady forge more than a friendship in this second book in the Blue Ridge Romance series. (However, the way in which these books are written, you can read them as stand alones, if you'd like.) Brady and Hope are relatable characters and seem to have a fairly strong relationship as friends prior to the events of this book, which makes for a good foundation for what transpires. One of the hardest things I have dealt with when reading series is authors not fleshing out how the characters know each other (basically, explaining their backstories). Denise Hunter does a great job of explaining in enough detail to bring the reader up to speed, but not so much that it detracts from the current events. This also allows you to be able to jump in, even if you're not familiar with the characters' past. Everyone has their own story, and of course, these intersect, along with laughter, a few tears and some outright frustration with some of the supporting players. Both Brady and Hope know that God has a bigger plan..does that include a ready made family? What will it cost them? Will they step forward into the unknown together? Read Honeysuckle Dreams to find out! * I was given an ARC to review. I was not required to give a favorable review. I appreciate the opportunity to review and all opinions above are my own. * I thoroughly enjoyed this read and look forward to the next one!
What can I say about Denise Hunters writing? Every book I have read of hers I have loved and I have read about 25 of them so far. She has a beautiful way of using words. An example of this, “There was warmth and affection in his gaze. A tender caring that made her want to stretch toward him like a sunflower reaching toward the sun's heat.” This story Honeysuckle Dreams is the second book in her Blue Ridge Romance series. But it is a great stand alone book. It's about Brady Collins and Hope Daniels. Hope and Brady are best friends, along with Brady's sister Zoe. They have grown up together and are all very close. Both Hope and Brady have suffered loss and heartache. Brady finds himself to be a single dad with a six month old little baby Sam. The baby was pretty much dropped off to him when he learns that his ex Audrey, Sam's mom, has died. He has a business to run and he is trying to do what's best for Sam. But he is not sure how single moms do it alone. With babysitting help from Hope and a few other ladies in their church, Brady is getting by, but just barely. Brady's ex in-laws have a lawyer and are threatening to take Sam away. Hope would be willing to do anything to help out her best friend, including a marriage of convenience. It has been said the best kind of marriage starts out with best friends. Will that be true for Brady and Hope? Can they find healing, hope, and a new beginning. God may have a different--and better--future planned for them than either could imagine. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers through NetGalley, Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. (less)
Definitely have to say this is the Denise Hunter I am used to reading and enjoying. Book 1, Blue Ridge Sunrise, was a disappointment. It was rather edgy and the spiritual content was very light; not what I normally see in her Christian fiction books. Honeysuckle Dreams is better written, has wonderful spiritual content, and very good character and plot development. I loved Hope and Brady's story. In one sense, it reminded me of a mail-order bride book in that they married without a previous courtship but rather in order to allow Brady to keep Sam. Brady's courtship after the marriage was delightful. He took his time to court Hope and allowed their feelings as well as any intimacy to develop slowly. Sam was absolutely adorable, and I couldn't image a better set of parents for him. The courtroom drama was a perfect touch as it kept me wondering what might happen with Sam's custody. Thank you Denise Hunter for returning to your previous endearing writing style
I love when a book engages me and I can't put the book down. This book just didn't do that for me. I didn't feel connected to the characters and the idea seemed a little far fetched for me. I felt like Hope became an entirely different person near the end of the book. I wanted to see how it would end up and I finished it, but it was not my favorite Denise Hunter book. Thank you Netgalley for my advanced copy.
Fear. If there was ever a thing that robs your emotional & spiritual freedom, this is it. When we are so consumed by fear - there is no room to breathe. Both Hope & Brady have plenty to fear. Much of this story focuses on Brady's battle for his son. It is well written and clearly researched. I appreciate when an author puts in the time to cover all the details accurately. In the beginning you believe that Brady is the one shouldering the majority of the conflict. Hope is a convenient aide, a best friend who comes to his rescue. But as the story progresses, so does our insight into Hope's past. We get a look inside her memories. Painful, heartbreaking and everything becomes clear. The reasons for her anxiety. The nightmares. It's so easy to say, that faith overcomes the fear. There is truth in that, but for the one who has actually 'experienced it' and not just watched it as a bystander (as Denise Hunter states) it can seem overwhelmingly impossible to achieve. Allowing that trust and faith in God, to take the place of fear is the resolution we all want to see with Hope. However, as those of us who have experienced it, such a mountain to climb. Beautiful cover, great location. I'm enjoying this series set in the Georgia countryside. Can’t wait for the next book!! Thank you to Netgalley & Thomas Nelson for the eARC. I also received a complimentary paper copy from the publisher. This is my honest review.