Monday, September 23, 2013

Juliana Stone: The Christmas He Loved Her (ARC)

Title: The Christmas He Lover Her
Author: Juliana Stone
Series: Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #2
Release Date: October 1, 2013

My Rating:  5 Stars

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 Review:
This book almost did me in. Every once in a while I come across a book that will have me in tears and feeling every emotion the characters do and completely absorbs me The Christmas He Loved Her is that book times a million. This is such a heartfelt, gut wrenching story. There are so many aspects and so many feelings that it was almost too much at times. I didn't know what to feel half of the time.

"But right now, in this lifetime, in this moment... it's different. It's raw and it's hungry, and I don't think that I can live without you."

We start with Jake Edwards, who lost his brother overseas and blames himself, and Raine Edward his brothers widow. Raine and Jake have known each other since they were kids, and Raine fully admits that she was always in love with both Jake and Jesse. I have read the widow story line before, but it is so much harder to read when the late spouse was a likable, upstanding person. What the story conveys so well though, is that there are different kinds of love. I never feel like Jake and Raine were betraying Jesse. When you lose someone you love there is always pain to overcome, but where Raine and Jake are concerned there is almost too much pain to deal with. They are dealt so much more than the loss of a brother/husband and they almost miss their chance at happiness again.

"'We're trying to survive,' she whispered through tears.
I'm trying to survive."

At first Jake and Raine try to form a relationship without clearing their history first, and it works for a while. Despite their love for one another they both have too many secrets and feel too much blame to form a cohesive relationship. Raine is such a heartbreaking character, she has experienced enough grief for an army. The one thing she finds that she needs in her life is Jake. Not as a crutch or as a replacement for Jesse, but to make her heart whole again. With the circumstances she has been handed in life she finds that if you can find that all consuming love, it shouldn't matter who it is with, she needs to grab it and live her life without regrets. Jake on the other hand can't get past the guilt of watching his brother die in front of his eyes, and he feels that by falling for Raine he is taking over Jesse's life. These two have to learn to forgive themselves, Jesse and each other. This is such a beautiful story of two people finding acceptance and learning to love again. Juliana Stone is a fantastic writer and I am in awe of how captivating this story is. The Christmas He Loved Her is a book that sets the standards for all books in my opinion. Make sure to pick up a copy and fall in love with Jake and Raine the way I did!

Happy Reading!
*ARC provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest opinion*

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