Release Date: October 1, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
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 one and only holiday read and it almost tore me to shreds! I love Juliana Stone and I so love Bad Boys of Crystal Lake because it's old school romance with a touch of heavy drama to "update" the formula. I've been looking forward to reading THE CHRISTMAS HE LOVED HER because we've met Jake and Raine in The Summer He Came Home and you can tell that the tension between these two is close to overflowing. Plus their backstory is kinda juicy because they're in-laws!
Yup. And that's why I procrastinated reading this because although THE CHRISTMAS HE LOVED HER is an HEA novel, it's emotionally heavy. Not exactly my idea of a holiday cheer story but still loved it obviously. Here's why I started this novel with caution: Jake and his twin brother, Jesse were childhood friends with Raine. Raine eventually married Jesse unfortunately he got killed in Afghanistan on his last tour. Since Jesse's death, things have been strained between Raine and Jake because the latter feels guilty for failing to save Jesse during their mission on top of his obvious attraction to Raine. When Jake finally went home to Crystal Lake, his thing with Raine can no longer be denied. They eventually succumbed to their passion and had their HEA but not without major emotional hiccups and heart rending hard truths along the way.
THE CHRISTMAS HE LOVED HER is laced with grief, the kind that induces dry sobs, lots of melancholy and guilt. I have to brace myself while reading this because there are a lot of scenes that really crushed me. Jake's emotional dilemma of denying his feelings for his brother's wife did its number on me. Raine's also torn between Jake and her loyalty to Jesse so there's a lot of things these two waded through before they finally took the plunge. The part where they have to tell Jake's parents that they're together had my palms sweating, you have to admit, it's kinda weird dating brothers and twins at that. There's a layer of taboo there that doesn't really appeal to me despite the obvious chemistry between Raine and Jake. Nonetheless, I'm happy it all worked out in the most touching way.
Aside from the romantic twists, the theme of grief, starting over and moving on, the predominant motif of family is what makes THE CHRISTMAS HE LOVED HER such a beautiful read. And as I've mentioned in my review of book 1, this series is old school Harlequin meets Nicolas Sparks, in fact there's a part in this novel where it's very much like The Notebook and I can't help but swoon over it! And like the previous novel, we meet the next couple to be featured in the series, Mac Draper and Lily St. Clare, (The Day He Kissed Her; April 1, 2014) which of course I can't wait to read. Anyway, THE CHRISTMAS HE LOVED HER still ended on a high note despite it's somber tones. Bad Boys of Crystal Lake is one of those heartfelt, feel-good, small town romances that will endear itself to you. JStone romantic writing voice is so lovely I dare you not to fall in love with her stories.
I love you Jake Edwards, I've always loved you. It doesn't lessen what I felt for your brother or cheapen the time I had with him.