Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone

Title: The Christmas He Loved Her
Author: Juliana Stone
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #1
Main Characters: Jake and Rhaine
Release Date: September 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Purchase Links: 
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
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 Review:
This is a tough series since book #1 starts with the funeral of one of the four Bad Boys of Crystal Lake. The stories surround the three remaining Bad Boys and this is book #2. This one is about Jake, Jessie's (the one who died) twin and Rhaine, the widow he left behind. Okay, with that set-up you know that this book is going to be emotional and wow...it did not disappoint. This book was amazing and so incredibly heart-wrenching.

The books surround the lives of the four bad boys, but Rhaine was always the fifth who hung around with all the guys. She was especially close to the twins, Jesse and Jake. It's been a year and a half since Jesse died, but neither Jake nor Rhaine are even close to living again. They are both living half-lives....both because of their loss of Jesse and the resulting loss of each other in the aftermath. It's really difficult to watch how much pain they are both in and how they are so close to not recovering. But it's the holidays and Jake is back home because his father is sick. As Jesse's widow, Rhaine is included in all the family activities. There's no avoiding each other this time. 

The pain of the characters in this book is palpable. There were moments when reading that I had to set the book down because I hurt so much for them, but it's a romance novel so there's that hope there for an HEA that keeps you reading. It's obvious that no matter what happened between Jesse and Rhaine (and there's absolutely no doubt that she loved him) that she is meant to be with Jake. He's her other half as much as Jesse ever was although they are completely different men. Where as Jesse fit her in a comforting way, Jake fits her in a passionate way. They've always had a more contentious relationship over the years, but it was Jake who she was out dancing in the rain with on her wedding day, not Jesse. And yes, there absolutely is pain and guilt involved in the whole thing too...for both characters.

Everything about this story worked for me. I loved the characters and the glimpses we get to see of their pasts...both together and with Jesse. It's a really rich, deep, emotional story with a few shocks that I saw coming, but were still just as heart-wrenching as if they had taken me completely by surprise. I loved the addition of the house and the little cabin to the story. It was interesting to see how completely opposite Jake and Rhaine view that cabin and what it means to them. But that also shows each of their individual strengths as characters. 

And then there's Mac & Lily....the final couple of the series. I worry about Mac and his drinking. There's an obvious problem there. It will be interesting to see how that book plays out because Lily's scars are already so obvious too. These both are definitely wounded. I think it's gonna be another book full of the feels as they find a way to heal each other. 


Felicia S said...

WOW! This particular one sounds like it really hits all the right notes. The whole series starts with a death, wowzer. BRAVE! Twin stories are always the most emotional (especially when one is not around anymore)!

Christi Snow said...

I cannot tell you just how good this entire series is (so far.) I highly recommend it!! smiles...

Julie said...

Great review Christi. I loved this one too. Imagine that! ;)