Title: The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone
Bad Boys of Crystal Lake Book Two
Imprint: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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 the music. 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. Or maybe it will be the perfect chance for both of them to finally find happiness again.
The Bad Boys of Crystal Lake are back and Oh. My. Goodness. Juliana Stone pretty much ripped my heart to shreds with Jake and Raine’s story. There is so much raw emotion and anguish in The Christmas He Loved Me, it is positively gut wrenching. This deeply emotional read will make you laugh, cry and ultimately rejoice as Jake and Raine finally break free of their haunting pasts and find their much deserved happily ever after.
A year and a half after he left town following his brother Jesse’s funeral, Jake Edwards returns home just in time for the holidays. Waiting for him are all of the problems he left behind and topping the list of things he would give anything to avoid? His childhood friend and Jesse’s widow, Raine. Running a pretty close second? His overwhelming (and somewhat misplaced) guilt. Guilt over Jesse’s death. Guilt over his feelings for Raine. And underneath it all? The never ending grief he feels for the brother he has lost.
Grief is an emotion that Raine knows all too well. She is deeply depressed, barely able to function and spends most of her days with her head buried under the covers. Jake’s homecoming is just the catalyst Raine needs to begin emerging from her sorrow.
Neither Jake nor Raine are prepared for the irresistible attraction they feel for one another. Nor are they ready for the emotions that surface after they give in to their passion. Both are haunted by an incident that precipitated Jake’s departure and neither knows how to bring it up without destroying their fragile new relationship. But it is long buried secrets that threaten to destroy them as they try to plan their future together.
Jake and Raine are also facing some difficult family issues. Raine’s mother, Gloria, essentially abandoned Raine as a child to work as a missionary. Gloria has recently returned to try to salvage their relationship, but Raine’s hurt and anger make it difficult for her to give Gloria a chance. Jake has an easier time repairing the damage to his relationship with his parents but the secret Jake is keeping from them keeps him mired in the past. Their tight bond is strong enough to withstand anything, but it takes almost of the entire novel before Jake fully believes this.
The Christmas He Loved Her begins around Thanksgiving and continues through the Christmas season. It is not a light and fluffy holiday read, but it is a beautiful story of love and forgiveness. Jake and Raine are dealing with realistic and incredibly painful issues but Juliana Stone makes all of the heartbreak (and tears) worthwhile with a touching and uplifting ending that perfectly sets up the next novel in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series.
Please click HERE to read my reviews of the other novels in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series.