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?
I’m sure I’ve said it a hundred times by now, but as part of the Fiction Guild Elite Reader program, I’m often given some pretty amazing books to read and share with my readers. Today’s book is a great book by one of those authors we have all come to know and love over the years – Denise Hunter’s new book is called Just a Kiss. This book is the third in the Summer Harbor and it’s the conclusion of the story about the Callahan brothers.
Just a Kiss is a sweet romance while at the same time, it deals with serious issues like PTSD and parental abandonment in a really compelling way.
Riley and Paige are friends – in fact, Paige is Riley’s “best friend” but he’s been in love with her since he was a teenager. She is also the person who has offered to care for Riley after his injury in Afghanistan where he lost half of his leg, and she wants to help him with his recovery. Even though he loves her, he wants to cut all ties with her because he feels like he’s not “complete” – he’s not the man he used to be and he can’t bear the thought of her being with someone else who is not damaged like he thinks he is.
While Paige is happy to help Riley as he is adjusting, but admittedly, she just doesn’t get his mood changes. On top of that, she has her own stuff going on too. Right from the beginning, I kept hoping Riley and Paige would get together but throughout the book, there were times that didn’t look like it was going to happen – while other times it looked very promising.
Just a Kiss was one of those books you just can’t stop reading. The characters were very believable and they had “real life” emotions. The story itself moved along steadily and provided just enough of life’s “ups and downs” to keep it interesting. There were times I had a tear in my eye, while other times I was laughing out loud. I do wish I would have read books #1 and #2, but even without them, I thoroughly enjoyed this story.
I received a copy of this book without cost from the publisher through The Fiction Guild, a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan Elite Reader book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed in this post are my own.