Sweetbriar Cottage

Sweetbriar Cottage

by Denise Hunter

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Overview

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Sweetbriar Cottage is a story to fall in love with. True-to-life characters, high stakes, and powerful chemistry blend to tell an emotional story of reconciliation.” —Brenda Novak, New York Times bestselling author

When Noah and Josephine discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job and settled at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

Sweetbriar Cottage is a wonderful story, full of emotional tension and evocative prose.” —Francine Rivers, New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718090487
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 06/13/2017
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 149,532
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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

Sweetbriar Cottage


By Denise Hunter

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2017 Denise Hunter
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-9049-4


CHAPTER 1

Copper Creek, Georgia

Present day


There was nothing like a letter from the IRS to stop a man in his tracks. Noah Mitchell came to a halt outside the Copper Creek post office, an uneasy dread leaking into his veins as he stared at the envelope.

He should've known better than to come down off the mountain and ruin a perfectly good Saturday. Granted, this wasn't the way he'd feared it would be ruined, but it was still a kick in the pants.

He sank onto a nearby bench, dumping the bundle of mail beside him. A cold breeze blew across the valley, but heat prickled beneath his jacket. Though March had arrived in northern Georgia, Mother Nature hadn't gotten the memo. The grass lay brown and dull against the semi-thawed earth, and the branches of the skeletal trees clacked together in the wind.

He pulled a finger through the envelope's seal, sending a plea heavenward. He supposed he was due. He was thirty-one and had never experienced the joy of an audit. Unfortunately, he'd filed for himself last year.

Noah unfolded the paper as the sun broke through the clouds, its reflection nearly blinding on the white paper. He scanned the paragraphs, squinting against the light, his eyes stopping on a key sentence in the second paragraph.

He reread the sentence, blinking in disbelief. Of all the idiotic ...

Noah was as patriotic as they came. He'd served overseas for a tour, for crying out loud. Stars and stripes, baseball, apple pie, all that. But sometimes the ineptitude of the American government left him scratching his head.

"Well, look who's come off the mountain."

Noah looked up to find his best friend, Jack McReady — "Pastor Jack" to most of the town — ambling toward him. Even though it was a Saturday morning, he wore khakis and a button-down. His lips stretched into the smile that had half the single females in his church swooning. He was oblivious to it all.

"Hey, Jack." Noah rose, grasping his friend's hand and pulling him in for a shoulder bump. "Good to see you, buddy."

"I was starting to think I was going to have to come up there and drag you down."

"The ranch is keeping me busy."

"Even horses sleep. How are you? Make it through the winter okay?"

"Lost a foal back in January. Other than that, it's going well. I'm finishing the attic in the cottage. How are things here in town?"

"Oh, you know, the usual. Rumors, Facebook drama, town council tiffs. Let's grab a bite. I was just heading over to the Rusty Nail."

Noah thought of the letter, now burning a hole in his coat pocket. "I'd like to, but I have a few errands. Have to be back to the ranch by three. Let's do it soon though."

Jack's blue eyes fastened on Noah's, doing that thing where he seemed to look right into his soul. "Everything okay?"

Nothing had been okay for a long time. Not since the divorce. But Jack already knew that. "Yeah. Just ... life ... you know."

"Sure." Jack nodded, his eyes still piercing. "Sure."

They parted ways a few minutes later, promising to touch base in the next couple weeks.

Noah gathered his mail and started the short walk toward Walt Levenger's office. He tugged down his cap and lowered his head — against the wind, he told himself. After all, her shop was on the other side of town and no doubt bursting at the seams on a Saturday morning. Chances of running into her were slim.

The downtown of Copper Creek was straight out of a movie set. Diagonal parking along Main Street. Two-story shops with colorful awnings, proudly facing the street, their Open flags fluttering in the wind. You could walk from one end to the other in fifteen minutes, and a few minutes later Noah was most grateful for that.

When he stepped into the CPA's office, the phone was ringing. Two people waited by the front desk where a harried teenager shouldered a phone and jotted on a yellow Post-it.

He took his place in line, his mind going back to that one jarring sentence in the letter. Walt was a family friend. He'd tell him how to straighten this out. Then Noah would just put this behind him.

But somehow the letter had stirred up all kinds of things he thought he'd already put behind him. Memories — the best of his life, the worst of his life — swirled together in a confounding cocktail ofjoy and pain. A vise tightened around his heart, squeezing until his breath stuttered.

"Can I help you?" The teenaged girl peered at him through a pair of thick-framed glasses.

He eased forward. "Hi, I'm here to see Walt."

The phone pealed. "Do you have an appointment?"

"No, but it's a pressing matter. He's a friend of the family."

"Name?"

"Noah Mitchell."

"Have a seat, please."

She answered the phone while he joined the others in the waiting room. The letter crinkled in his pocket as he settled against the curved plastic chair.

He took out his phone and made a list of items he needed from the Piggly Wiggly. He could hit Buddy's Hardware while he was in town too. He needed mud and sanding paper for the attic. Might as well get the paint too. Save him a trip back to town. Maybe he'd hunt down his brother and grab a cup of coffee if he had time.

"Noah, you can go on back."

He followed the short hall to the first open door on the left and tapped on the frame.

Walt stood up behind a cluttered desk and extended his hand. "Noah, come on in."

Noah shook his hand. "Good to see you, sir."

Walt was winning the weight war that often accompanied a desk job, but he was losing the battle with his hairline.

"Thanks for seeing me on such short notice. I'm sure you're swamped with the tax season."

Walt pulled off his bifocals. "I have some help this year. Young sprig, fresh out of college. He's going to be the death of me."

Noah's lips tugged northward.

"You look more like your daddy every time I see you," Walt said. "Good-looking son of a gun. Have a seat, why don't you. How are your folks?"

"Enjoying retirement. They're in Las Vegas this week. Last week they were hiking the Sierra Nevadas. Next week, who knows?"

"Good for them. They've been looking forward to this a long time."

"They have. How's your family?"

"Fine and dandy. Here's my new grandbaby." He handed Noah a framed photo of a newborn, swaddled and pink-skinned. "Lori Ann, after my wife."

"Congratulations. She's a beauty."

"That she is." Walt settled the photo back in place. "Well, what can I do for you, Noah? Needing some help with your taxes this year?"

"Not exactly." He pulled the letter from his pocket and handed it over the desk. "Got this in the mail today. Was hoping you could advise me on how to go forward."

Walt settled his readers in place. A frown creased his brow as he read.

It seemed like an hour passed before the older man's eyes finally lifted, meeting Noah's gaze over the straight rim of his glasses. "When was your divorce finalized, Noah?"

Divorce. Would he ever get used to the word? "Before January of the tax year in question."

"You were right to file single then, of course." His gaze fell to the letter.

"How can I fix this?"

"Well, if it's in error, you just send them a copy of your final divorce decree. In a month or two you'll receive a letter stating that the matter's been resolved."

"What do you mean 'if it's in error'?"

Walt handed back the letter. "Well, you might just check with your attorney and be sure things got tied up nice and proper."

Noah blinked. "Of course they did."

"Well, sure. You just send a copy of that final decree, then, and that'll be the end of it."

The end of it. The divorce had been uncontested, as simple as the act could be, he supposed. But there was nothing simple when it came to separating one flesh. If there was anything he'd learned in all this, that was it.

The phone pealed again in the front office, shaking Noah from his stupor. "All right then. Much obliged, sir. I won't take any more of your time." He stood, his legs quaking beneath him.

"Good luck, Noah. You say hello to your folks the next time you hear from them."

"Will do."

Noah's heart raced as he strode down the hall, his mind spinning.

The final decree. He had those papers. He'd signed them, and Josephine had sent him a copy. He remembered that much, even if those grief-laden months were as foggy as the valley on a warm spring morning. Facing Josephine across that old scarred table. Feeling like strangers, despite their nearly two-year marriage, her porcelain skin pale against her red lipstick. Working in a daze, forgetting to eat. Lying in his empty bed night after night, a concrete block on his chest.

The divorce decree. He couldn't say where it was just now, but he knew he had it.

It was all just a mistake. But there was no sense going all the way back up the mountain when he could drive across town and make absolutely sure. He'd get a copy from the attorney and mail it while he was still in town. Get it behind him. Lickety-split.

He turned left at the sidewalk and worked his way back to his Silverado. Traffic in town was heavy, everybody out running errands like he was. When he reached the Connelly Law Offices he turned into the space and headed inside.

The jingling bell announced Noah's arrival, and Joe Connelly came out of his office.

"Noah, good to see you."

"I wasn't sure you'd be open."

The men shook hands. Joe's partner, Vernon, had represented both Noah and Josephine in the divorce. But a serious heart attack soon had the man retiring to Colorado where he could enjoy his son and grandkids.

"A man's got to be open on Saturdays anymore if he wants to stay in business. My secretary's out sick with the flu. Have a seat. Can I get you a cup of coffee or a glass of tea?"

"Coffee sounds great."

Joe poured a cup and handed it to him. "Come on back. I'm just working on a deposition, nothing that can't wait."

As Noah followed, he drew a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves. Was it just him, or did the building actually smell like a place where marriages came to die?

He took a seat across from Joe's desk — a direct contrast from Walt's. Other than a tidy stack of papers and a canister of pens it was all glossy mahogany.

Joe folded his hands on the desk. "What can I do for you, Noah?"

For the second time this morning he withdrew the letter from his pocket and explained the situation.

Joe listened intently, his hawk-like eyes fixed on Noah. "I see," he said when Noah was finished. "Well, hopefully the IRS is mistaken — it wouldn't be the first time. Do you remember signing the divorce decree?"

"I do. I have a copy at home." He probably hadn't been as attentive as he should've been through the process. He had been reeling, and there was an intense desire to push all the details onto Josephine. She'd had it coming, after all.

"A divorce is finalized when the decree is signed by both parties, then by the judge."

"The judge?" Noah palmed the side of his neck, feeling like an immense idiot. "I don't remember seeing a judge's signature, but I wasn't really looking for it either."

"Well, the courthouse is closed, but we can certainly check our files." Joe stood and walked over to a wall of filing cabinets. "I just can't imagine Vernon letting this slip through the cracks."

"Things were winding down in the process when he had his heart attack."

Joe's fingers walked along the top of the files. "He came back to the office to tie up loose ends before he moved. I suppose it's possible the decree was overlooked." Joe pulled a file and shut the drawer. "Let's see what we have here."

Noah's heart pummeled his ribs as Joe flipped through the papers. Please, God. He'd just come to town to run his errands. How could this be happening?

Joe pulled a packet from the envelope. "Well, here's a copy of the decree."

Noah's lungs emptied. "Thank God."

"Well ... hold your horses," the lawyer said after he flipped to the last page. "It's not been signed by the judge."

Noah sank into his seat.

"There's a note stating he gave a copy to Josephine on September 28. Once the judge signs, copies are sent to both parties, and we retain a copy for our records. Since there's no such copy here, it was never submitted to the judge. You can check with the courthouse on Monday to be certain, but it looks as though your divorce was never finalized, Noah."

A nervous laugh slipped out. "I can't believe this is happening."

Joe set his hand on Noah's shoulder. "I know it seems bad, but this is easily rectified. The divorce is probably still pending. It happens more often than you'd think. Just be glad neither of you has remarried. And yes, that actually happens."

Easily rectified.

The words bounced through Noah's head as he left the office. Easy for Joe to say. He hadn't been unknowingly married for the past eighteen months to the woman who'd wrecked his world. He hadn't been completely failed — twice now — by the woman he'd once loved more than life.

Josephine. You're still married to her. She's still your wife.

His traitorous heart gave an extra heavy thud, followed by a quick stutter. Longing surged, strong and unrelenting, making his chest tight, his breathing laborious.

The innate reaction made his blood boil. That she still had that power over him ... Would it never end? What kind of idiot was he?

This was all her fault. She'd promised to handle this. And here they were. Eighteen months later and still married.

He'd somehow kept a lid on his emotions through the endless process of their divorce. Had somehow bottled it up, clamped his teeth together, locked his lips. If she knew he was shattered it wasn't because he'd fallen apart in front of her. If she knew about the anger churning inside him it wasn't because he'd raged at her.

But the emotions roiling now begged for release. And his feet, now striding purposely down the sidewalk, seemed helpless against the force. This time she was going to know exactly how he felt.

CHAPTER 2

Josephine Mitchell dragged a comb through Abel Crane's newly trimmed hair. Her nimble fingers tugged here and there on the coarse strands, covering a cowlick, taming a wave. Abel was in his sixties with a thick head of gray hair that grew as fast as a June lawn.

The Saturday-morning crowd filled Josephine's Barbershop with the familiar sounds of chatter, the buzz of a razor, and the splash of water in the bowls. She caught the nutty scent of shaving cream and heard the scrape of a blade as her friend and fellow stylist, Callie, drew it deftly across her customer's cheek.

Josephine whipped the cape from Abel's shoulders. "Ta-da! Handsome as ever, Mr. Crane."

"Much obliged, dear."

Abel lived in the foothills in a mobile home that had seen better days. Two years ago, after a back injury at the gravel pit, he'd had to file for disability. His wife stayed home with their grown daughter, who had severe cerebral palsy and was confined to a wheelchair.

The bell over the door tinkled behind the partition wall as Josephine replaced her tools. Her four stylists were busy with their own customers.

"Be right with y'all," she called.

On Abel's way to the lobby he fished his wallet from his pocket in a routine as familiar as the smell of shampoo.

Josephine stopped him. "Now, sugar, you know your money's no good here. Go buy that wife of yours a Danish, and tell her I said hey."

Abel's round cheeks flushed. "Aw, you don't have to do that, Josephine. Things is better now that our boy's out on his own."

She gave his arm a light swat. "Now you get on, Abel Crane. I'll see you next month. And tell Lizzie to stop in and see me."

"Will do," he said, exiting the shop. "Much obliged, Josephine."

She turned, seeking the new arrival. "Just give me a second to sweep up and —"

Her eyes connected with the waiting customer. But it wasn't just any customer. It was Noah. Standing tall and confident in the corner of her little lobby, making her chest ache on sight. That's how it was with Noah. He walked through her door, and just like that the past eighteen months fluttered away on a breeze.

"Noah." His name escaped on a breath.

His hair was wind-t ousled, his jaw all sharp angles and scruffy bristle. His amber-colored eyes snapped with fire. "We need to talk."

Her mouth opened, but her brain was a jumble. She couldn't think why on earth he'd be here, why he'd be angry with her. She hadn't laid eyes on him since the deposition.

She crossed her arms, a flimsy barrier at best, and pasted a smile on her lips. "All right. What is it?"

A shadow passed over his jaw. "What is it? I'll tell you what it is, Josephine."

That stung. She didn't expect to hear "baby girl" in that low gravelly voice, but Josephine? He'd called her Josie from the start.

He leaned closer, and the full effect of his masculine smell made her woozy. "I need to see a copy of our divorce decree."

She blinked, her eyes fluttering around the lobby, grateful it was empty. Still, the partition wasn't made of steel. A wave of heat flooded up her neck and into her cheeks.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter. Copyright © 2017 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.

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Sweetbriar Cottage 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Josephine's strength and courage to go on!! Noah was such a wonderful, kind man! They are just perfect together! I am so happy I found this book! It is my first read of Denise Hunter's. I can't wait to read another!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, primarily because Josie more accurately reflects so many women struggling through the pain of the past. I loved that she was real, and that she tried so hard to do the right thing, but just got stuck in her own head. She had real pain, and it had colored her decisions and behavior far too long. I loved Noah's struggle with his feelings for her. These two characters are a beautiful picture of our own struggle to wrap our heads around the forgiveness and love of Jesus.
mackenzie_carol 3 months ago
Sweetbriar Cottage is Denise Hunter’s most recent stand-alone novel, but definitely isn’t the first book that I have read by her. Denise has been one of my all-time favorite authors ever since I read Barefoot Summer back in 2015, so I buy just about everything she releases, even if I don’t have a clue what it’s about before I order it. I already know it’s going to be fantastic because she wrote it, and this book was no exception. Just knowing that this was going to be a struggle between a man and wife—who were supposedly divorced—made me sure that this would be an interesting story full of secrets and truths and the longing of people who quite possibly shouldn’t have gotten separated in the first place. And believe me, I wasn’t disappointed. One of the things I really loved about this novel is the way it went back and forth from present day to the past, whether their shared past from their meeting and dating days or from their early days of marriage, or Josephine’s own past that it was so very unfair she had to go through. When it went back and forth like that, I felt more like I was able to get the full story, to really understand how their beginning got them to where they had come, and what her “tragic past” had to do with it. I didn’t feel like an outsider looking in and trying to figure out what made them the way that they were and what their marriage was like from the very beginning, instead I got a clear picture of it and then was able to better understand their present and what they needed to do to get themselves on a better path than where they were currently going. Also, I just couldn’t help loving Noah. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Josephine too and I really couldn’t stand all that she had been through, but it was Noah who I loved the most. The way he loved Josephine—really loved her, even after all they had been through and the way she made it seem she didn’t love him back—was just the sweetest thing to behold. Through him, I got a little bit of a picture of something very close to unconditional love, and it really inspired me and touched my heart. Even though he didn’t know her past or what made her who she was, he loved her, and that was enough. Besides all that, this story definitely had many unexpected twists and turns that kept me guessing as to what would happen next. It wasn’t just a run of the mill, they get caught together and argue back and forth until somehow they forget everything and go back to being in love kind of story. There were events, circumstances, that changed things, that caused the truth to come out, and that surprised me at every turn. So, all in all, I really couldn’t imagine not giving this story all five bookshelves, and a place on my all-time favorites list. It was just the sweetest, most heartwarming story, that also held just the perfect amount of the unexpected, all wrapped together with the truth and reality that sometimes comes in life. I highly recommend this novel, and basically anything that Denise has written, because she is fantastic. (This review is from my blog, spreadinghisgrace.blogspot.com)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed it. We need more Christians writing stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Loved the characters!!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Noah and Josephine thought that they had been divorced for a year and a half, but due to some paperwork mix up they are technically still married. A weather event, a horse and a few mistakes send this couple out into winter cold and they must depend on each other to survive. There were many times in this book where I rolled my eyes as something would happen that would make their situation worse and it was just too much. I don't want to be too specific and spoil, but there was officially a moment where I went oh really, how convenient for the story and it was too obvious.
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
Denise Hunter writes such real and captivating books. This one holds true to that. This book was heartbreaking in parts that made it difficult to read. But I had to understand what happened. What drove these two people apart and how could they reconcile all that went wrong. Honestly, both the main characters had characteristics that bothered me at first. They weren't overly lovable, a bit rough around the edges but I still liked them. Overall, a wonderful read that kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next and drew me to the characters and their flaws. Visit Denise here. Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com or your favorite retailer. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own. 
StephieJ More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. It was the first book that I read by Denise Hunter. This book is all about second chances. I really enjoyed the main characters Noah and Josephine. They both had past scars that they needed to work through. This book is all about second chances. It was such a sweet and enjoyable romance book to read. I highly recommend this book. You will really enjoy it. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. No review was required. My opinion is honest and is my own.
AngelaBycroftNZ More than 1 year ago
Denise Hunter’s latest release - Sweetbriar Cottage is the perfect cosy read for those cold dark nights or snowy weekends spent wrapped in a warm blanket with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Noah lives alone after his divorce in a secluded cottage in the Blue Ridge Mountains in George. His ex-wife still works down in the local town as a hairdresser/barber shop. The least they have to do with each other the better as far as Noah is concerned. So when he receives notice that his divorce didn’t actually happened and he is technically still married - you can imagine what follows is ample fodder for a good novel - but this is SO much more. Throw in a snow storm come blizzard - two people who thought they couldn’t stand one another suddenly find out life may not be through with their two lives together. I loved the two main character’s literal unexpected adventure and how sometimes the events that over whelm us - do the most to shape us. It was also a super quick read based mainly on the fact that you wanted to know how our two protagonists were going to make it out in one piece and together or now. All in all I couldn’t recommend this book more - 5 stars and then some. Curl up with this one soon. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via The Fiction Guild, and was not required to post a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Yamma1212 More than 1 year ago
As soon as I saw Denise Hunter's new book, I knew I'd love it. She's one of my favorite authors, and never disappoints. A year after their divorce was supposed to have been finalized, Noah and Josephine discover they're still married. Josephine delivers paperwork to Noah's isolated ranch, and while she's there, gets snowed/iced in. After moving on with their own lives, the duo is forced to face each other, and their past/s. I enjoyed the fact that this was not a perfect couple, and that they had to work through a messy and imperfect relationship. Despite having a rough past, we see love, redemption, healing, forgiveness and second chances. I was blessed to receive 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.
Yamma1212 More than 1 year ago
As soon as I saw Denise Hunter's new book, I knew I'd love it. She's one of my favorite authors, and never disappoints. A year after their divorce was supposed to have been finalized, Noah and Josephine discover they're still married. Josephine delivers paperwork to Noah's isolated ranch, and while she's there, gets snowed/iced in. After moving on with their own lives, the duo is forced to face each other, and their past/s. I enjoyed the fact that this was not a perfect couple, and that they had to work through a messy and imperfect relationship. Despite having a rough past, we see love, redemption, healing, forgiveness and second chances. I was blessed to receive 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.
BooksAndSpoons More than 1 year ago
A breathtakingly beautiful story about trust, unconditional love, and forgiveness that touched my heart. I was really impressed with this new author to me, who wrote a Christian faith based romance novel, yet didn't shy away from the physical attraction between the main characters, but played it well as part of the plot and development of their relationship, as important part of the story, while managing to keep the story 'clean and sweet'. I liked both Noah and Josephine Mitchell. They were a very different type of characters, both seemed like outgoing, yet Josephine's flirty behavior was part of the front she played, to hide her insecurities. Her past broke my heart, her childhood experiences some of those nightmares you wish upon no one. Her character development, her finding the way to be able to open up about her past, explain her past behavior, and accept forgiveness from herself as well as from others, those were the outstanding moments in the tale. Noah was a strong character, his emotions were profound. From his anger to his passion, to his protectiveness, to his love, every single emotion he felt was tangible, true, and deep. That he found it in his heart to forgive and it was sincere, was the moment that all the emotional floodgates were opened for me. The story has such a natural flow it was easy for me to immerse myself into the tale and forget the world around me. The rasing emotions that made havoc in lives of Noah and Josephine took me for a ride that will stay with me for some time. As the story was told, it was an astonishing tale about love and forgiveness. Josephine's development with her faith was referenced yet left a bit open, as was Noah's past with most details. But I am not sure if I would have needed that additional information if it would have made any difference in the story and the clear message absolution in love it delivers. This was a story that left me in awe a bit, a story that I will be processing for some time to come. It is a journey I can recommend for readers to take and approach with an open mind ~ Five Spoons
ARS8 More than 1 year ago
Sweetbriar Cottage by author Denise Hunter was a powerful read on abuse, infidelity, and forgiveness, ultimate forgiveness. Noah and Josephine have gone through a very painful divorce and both thought that part of their lives was finished. However, due to a missing signature they found out they were still married to each other. Thus begins a bitter and painful look at their past and a possible hopeful look into their future. I really enjoyed the whole stranded in a cabin during a freak snowstorm plot line. I was really rooting for these two to make amends and get back together. They still loved each other, but they covered up that love with a lot of bitterness and blame. This was not a lighthearted read but there were moments that did have me giggling. I liked the lesson of unconditional love in this novel. It was eye opening and really showed true to life that even though we should love no matter what, as humans that can be difficult if not impossible. We are not able to fill the place of God’s love in another and that was an important lesson for this couple to learn. This is my second favorite Denise Hunter novel (The Convenient Groom still sitting in top place). I received a copy of this novel for free through the Fiction Guild. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
MarB1 More than 1 year ago
A beautiful and sweet love story that tugs at the heartstrings. Denise Hunter knows how to write an enjoyable romance, but with this one I felt that she went deeper. Maybe it is because of Josephine’s dark past. Something happened to Josephine when she was only twelve years old and has influenced all she did in her later life, including making the wrong decision in her marriage. Noah was hurt by what Josephine did and wanted a divorce right away. Only after a while he discovers that the paperwork was never finished and they are still married. When Noah and Josephine are forced to spend time together, old wounds are opened and confusing feelings rise to the surface. Eventually Josephine opens up about her past. Can Noah ever forgive her? Is there healing for them? Hunter never disappoints, but with this heartfelt story, I feel like she has written her best yet.
Jennybug52 More than 1 year ago
4 stars- This was another well written story by Denise Hunter. She is the master of romance and has such a great way of drawing you into the story and making you fall in love with the characters. The story of Josephine and Noah is a very touching, bittersweet story. My heart ached for Josephine and the things she had been through. Noah was an amazing man but would he be able to see past his anger and hurt to get to the root of the problem of their marriage and find forgiveness? This story shows that God is always in control, even when we don’t understand what’s going on, and that whether in a good situation or bad, God knows what He is doing. This was a very enjoyable read with a lot of heart and emotion. It was an emotional read that reminds us that God loves us unconditionally, even when others don’t. 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.
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
What a touching story that shows how Christ can make beauty for ashes. This book touched me in a powerful way, demonstrating how broken people shut others out and use defense mechanisms that hurt others in the process. A deep story with enough romance to lighten it up, but have your tissues ready. The characters of Noah and Josephine are both so vulnerable and you want to shake them and say no don't do that. Denise Hunter paints a portrait with her words that takes time to develop even though you want to hurry it along to see the end result. Great character development and keeps you engrossed. I highly recommend this standalone novel. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
Ellen-oceanside More than 1 year ago
SWEETBRIAR. COTTAGE by Denise Hunter. Interesting book once again by Denise, that all of her fans and readers will enjoy. What happens when a divorce takes place, the shattered hopes and dreams that happened for Josie and Noah. When notified they were still married , she comes to the ranch. Now nature plays a trick or is it a treat. Stranded, time for them to talk, and think of what happened, and where to go from this point on. Emotion filled that will draw you in, with the what if, we could of done it differently. Well done, and all will enjoy. Given ARC by Thomas Nelson for my voluntary review and my honest opinion.
jewelrydiva More than 1 year ago
I stayed up until after midnight last night reading this amazing story. I have read several of Denise Hunter's awesome books. But this one in my opinion is the absolute best. When I put the book down, all I could think about was picking it back up to see what happened next. This book hits some hard places. It's fiction but yet tugs at some very real and hard issues that unfortunately occurs in a sin filled world. She does it so beautifully and she developed the characters in such a light you couldn't help but fall in love with them...to root them on to victory. That victory can only be found in Christ. Y'all this book was amazing and I highly recommend it. *I was given this book by Thomas Nelson and was under no obligation to leave a review.
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I received this book from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to give a favorable review, all thoughts were my own. What a way to find out that your divorce never went through, a letter from the IRS. This story is about a couple who go through a divorce but in some ways shouldn't have. I think God had a way of intervening on it. She has issues from her childhood she never actually dealt with. And he had a loving heart but was hurt. They get caught in a freak snowstorm on his ranch, and then lost in the wood. But it gives them time to talk and come to realize a lot of things. This is a wonderful book about forgiveness, love, understanding, and the power of Prayer and God. I love this story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story has some twists and turns. After Noah and Josephine are divorced they are moving on with their lives. Noah has settled at a remote horse ranch and Josie is running a hair salon. Then they find out their divorce was never finalized. As they try to finalize the paperwork God steps in with a storm. They are trapped in Noah's cabin for the duration. Will they be able to survive the storm when the power goes out, a horse escapes and they have to go find him in the cold and snow. Will they survive the storm? Will they be able to move past their hurts and find forgiveness?
TrixiO More than 1 year ago
An evocative, powerfully written, deeply emotionally charged story that will squeeze your heart. Gripping from the start, you'll not want to stop reading for anything! Characters so real, dealing with messy pasts while finding that their way back is never easy or the road never straight. You'll take that journey alongside them, each step more painful than the last. But watching as each broken piece is put back together and hearts are mended. An intensely redemptive story to stir your soul, engage your emotions, and has the power to change you! This will stay with you long after the ending page, you don't want to miss it!
sh2rose More than 1 year ago
Sweetbriar Cottage does not go where I thought it would go. Denise Hunter took me deeper than I expected with her characters, Noah and Josephine who think they are divorced. What transpires changes them forever. The themes of Sweetbriar Cottage will touch your heart and may even help heal your own brokenness. Noah’s strong faith in God is tested and measured above and beyond what he has already experienced. This novel, fast-paced and action packed will be hard to put down. NetGalley provided a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
BookReviewerTG More than 1 year ago
Every once in awhile I like to take a break from all mystery and suspense novels and read a lovely, heart felt romance. First of all, I love the cover of this book. It brings all kinds of lovely thoughts. Not just romance but thoughts of pretty furniture and thoughts of a couple who can find love again. Sweetbriar Cottage is the first book by Denise Hunter that I've read. It is a romance but it isn't like all that lovely dove stuff we sometimes think that romance novels are made of...no, this story is about a couple who thinks they have divorced but find out that the divorce papers were never finalized. oops! Josephine goes tho her husband's ranch to deliver the papers in person and tries to finalize this disaster. But low.and.behold a strong spring storm arrives and maroons the unhappy couple in the lovely Sweetbriar Cottage. Since Josephine and Noah can't go anywhere in the storm they begin to talk. And since one has to be in a rather small cottage with another person whom love was once a happy occasion, it seems just natural to begin talking and reminiscing once again as the rain falls. A lovely story with just enough "round a about" to not make this a gushy romance. Love rains!
Jaquelyn More than 1 year ago
Sweetbriar Cottage is an amazing story of second chances and true love. I had a hard time putting it down, and was dying to see what would happen next. I loved watching the way the story unfolded. Hunter had me wishing I could dig into their past to see what caused their divorce in the first place. She did an amazing job at writing their emotions, I could literally feel their frustration. Noah and Josephine were happily married once, what happened that caused them to drift so far apart? How does someone get over a broken heart? In Noah's case, he moved to the mountains and does everything possible to avoid his ex wife. That is until he receives a paper in the mail saying he is still married to her. Josephine is just as shocked when she hears the news, but agrees to do whatever necessary in order to fix it. Going out of her way, Josephine drives out to Noah's house to help speed along the process. Little does she know, a big storm is on its way and it's right behind her. Being stranded with someone you hurt deeply is no easy thing. Learning to not bite each other's head off also fits into that category. Should they get to the bottom of their failed marriage and give it another try? Or are some transgressions too much for forgive? I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a book about second chances. I enjoyed the bits of humor and suspense mixed in. Hunter took me to another place, and I even found myself a little chilly while reading about the snow storm. I can't wait to see what she writes next. I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was in no way required to post a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Nicnac63 More than 1 year ago
Oh what a gorgeous cover! It certainly drew me in, and, as with every book I’ve read by Denise Hunter, the plot, message, and characters followed suit. Sweetbriar Cottage is a heartbreaking and powerful story. If you’re looking for a fluff story, this isn’t for you. The relationship and growth between Noah and Josie has depth and pain and will pull you through many emotions. I love how the characters are flawed and real. Nothing feels contrived. The spiritual aspect gives them an authentic, full feel that makes it easy to relate and sympathize with them. Ms. Hunter is a talented author and I recommend any of her books. This one is one of her best. 5 Stars First Line: There was nothing like a letter from the IRS to stop a man in his tracks. I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley and BookLook.