Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

My rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars

Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.

Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

A well written story about best friends becoming more than best friends and the struggle they face to make it work in the face of life's problems.

I loved the family dynamics in this book - the two older brothers, as well as their Aunt Trudy, are there for Riley when he comes home wounded from the war.  They do their best to help and encourage him.  And I loved the interaction between Paige and the ladies of the family - Lucy, Eden, and Trudy.  They really help support her when things start to go wrong with her shelter and her relationship with Riley.

However, for me, there was too much angst and struggle in this book.   I have no problem with the authors writing - the book kept my attention (and I will no doubt read another book by her).   I just wasn't getting a feel good, happy vibe from reading this story.   I understand that Riley was going through PTSD and I don't mind a little drama but for both characters to be so out of sorts or down on themselves just didn't make for a happy read.  I wanted to cry for both of them!  The happiest part of the book is the end where you get your (small spoiler alert in case you think things would end happily ever after ending.

*Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for a complimentary copy of this book. I was not paid or required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are my own.*

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Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the experience of falling in love vicariously through her characters and can expect a happily-ever-after sigh as they close the pages of her books.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband will soon be facing an empty nest.

You can learn more about Denise by visiting her FaceBook page at or Twitter (@deniseahunter)

I review for BookLook Bloggers