The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone

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The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (321 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed Camellia

His best gift this holiday is her.

In the small town of Crystal Lake, Christmas is a time for sledding, hot chocolate, and cozying up to the fire. For Jake Edwards, it shouldn’t be a time to give in to the feelings he’s always had for Raine–especially since she’s his brother’s widow.

No one annoys Raine quite like her brother-in-law does. But when Jake brings home a tall blond thing from the city who’s bad news, Raine needs to stop him from making the biggest mistake of his life. Does Raine want this woman to leave Crystal Lake because she’s all wrong for Jake? Or is it because she wants him for herself…?

Want, need, desire, pain, guilt, and soul-wounding grief make The Christmas He Loved Her an emotional, heart-engaging experience.

Raine, a widow swamped with depression, feels abandoned even with the loving care of her mother-in-law and father-in-law, Marnie and Steven Edwards. At first I was impatient with her for not facing reality and getting on with her life; but, as the story unfolds, I feel heartbroken for all she’s lost—so much more than just her husband. Her strength to hold on and hope for a better time had me cheering for her. I wanted to explain a few home truths to Jake, her deceased husband’s twin and her life-long buddy that she’d always been so close to. Adding to Raine’s misery is her mother with her ‘too-much-too-late’ efforts to do the mother thing. As Raine’s back story unfolds and she struggles mightily to find her balance and live again, the story enthralls.

As an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, Jake Edwards saw horrors that haunt his nights and bedevil his days. He saw how his twin Jesse died, how Blake St. Claire, a friend and fellow Ranger was mortally wounded along with so many others. Jake is plagued with survivor’s guilt. His PSTD drives him to his limit. Also, another time, a time with Raine when they were both devastated with grief at Jesse’s death keeps his emotions in an uproar. “Doing the right thing”, at least to his way of thinking, has cost him immeasurably for a year and a half as he absented himself from family and old friends. He returns home still broken, angry, and overwhelmed with life in general. He knows settings things right with Raine is a MUST—but finding the courage and emotional strength to do it has him on edge. He has no idea just how much damage he has done.

Lily, Blake St. Claire’s sister, is a unique character that the author brings to life vividly. Even though Lily is super rich, looks it, and like to stirs things up, she is steadfast in her care for her dying brother while the rest of her elite family are too busy to be bothered. She and Jake form an unusual relationship. She becomes a catalyst for a lot of the pivotal action.

To me, Marie Stevens, Jake’s mother is the most enduring, steady, ‘keep-on-keeping-on’ character in the unfolding of the plot. She has a strength that helps her as her husband recovers from cancer, as she deals with the death of one son and the absence of another, and all the times tries to help Raine cope with her grief.

On a just-plain-fun note, Gibson, Raine’s puppy, is a sweetheart, Juliana Stone reveals him in such a way one can almost feel his warm, squirmy little body and hear his happy little barks in his exuberance for life.

The Christmas He Loved Her is a “A Bad Boys of Crystal Lake” novel. If you’ve read previous books of this series, you’ll probably remember MacKenzie, the rich boy with an abusive past, and Cain Black, the singer who married Maggie. These two are forever friends to Jake and to Raine and set things up for some significant events.

If an action or a place can be considered a character then hard, backbreaking labor and Wyndham Place certainly qualify. They have a strong influence on Both Jake and Raine as they strive for ‘normal’, albeit a new normal. Both of these things help then two broken-hearted characters find their way back to a solid footing so they can live again.

Juliana Stone writes love scenes that sizzle, heat the blood, and send the heart racing while revealing the truest, most heart-felt love one can imagine as she gives the reader a special vicarious experience with Jake and Raine in The Christmas He Loved Her.

Comments

  1. This sounds interesting. I will have to check the whole series out. Great cover too 🙂

  2. Thanks for the info – it’s in my TBR pile and this just prompts me to get to it LOL!

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