by Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin
I really must get out of the habit of reading the third book in a series first. Although, there are times when it makes me want to read the previous two, like now.
Just a Kiss wraps up the Summer Harbor series by Denise Hunter and sees Riley, the youngest Callahan brother home from Afghanistan, alive but not quite whole. Paige Warren, is there to greet him, but when circumstances allow him nowhere else to stay, he’s forced to bunk in Paige’s house—awkward when he’s loved her for years and she still sees him as her best bud. It doesn’t help matters that he can’t come to grips with missing a leg.
When his brother suggests the situation could prove to be an opportunity, the conflict is set:
Riley gave a humorless laugh. ‘Yeah, just what she always wanted. A cripple.’
Something flickered in Zac’s eyes. ‘You’re the same person you’ve always been, Riley.’
Not even close. Not on the outside, and sure as heck not on the inside. He pressed his lips tight before it came spilling out. Nothing would ever be the same. Paige deserved the best, and that sure wasn’t him.
Oh, yeah. Riley has issues that are understandable and, I think, very real given the circumstances. A couple of times I wanted to throttle him for his self-pity, but can honestly say I’d be no shining example myself.
Paige has issues of her own. Internally, it’s the fear of being unwanted. She has no family but the Callahans…no one who loves her enough to remain in her life. Even Riley deserted her when he enlisted. Frankly, I found Paige’s revelation about her feelings for Riley a little too sudden and convenient. I think I would have preferred knowing she’d experienced inner hints, especially while he was gone, but denied them. (No spoiler. It’s a romance. 🙂 )
One of the things I truly liked about this book was the interaction between the brothers and the dialog of the three guys—so realistic. Often, twenty-to-early-thirty-something heroes, particularly in contemporary romance novels, come off sounding wise and seriously mature instead of like average men who express themselves in some of today’s casual terms and gestures.
I tend to like my romances mixed with a little criminal activity, but I enjoyed this easy read that addresses a tough topic in an honest, yet satisfying way. Just a Kiss is a novel that stands alone, though it’s helpful to read the series from the beginning since the previous couples appear consistently throughout the story.
Will you read a series out of order, or do you care?
Fun fact: Knowing they’re writing chums, I chuckled when one of the scenes in this book shares space with Colleen Coble’s setting in her current Sunset Cove series. Maybe locations overlap throughout the Sunset Harbor books, though. And before writing this, I hadn’t thought about them both having similar series titles.
BTW, as of this writing, The Yuletide Angel, my Christmas novella is $.99 on Amazon for the e-book and free on Kindle Unlimited. Grab it for yourself or send it to a friend. Thanks! 🙂