Title: Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter
Blue Ridge Series Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe—a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.
As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.
Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter is a heartwarming novel with an underlying theme of second chances. With more than just a second chance at love romance, this first installment in the Blue Ridge series is also a lovely story of new beginnings and healing.
Five years ago, Zoe Collins and Cruz Huntley’s relationship ended due to lack of communication, immaturity, insecurities and family disapproval. Zoe impetuously fled town with Kyle in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a musician. Cruz remained in town where he repaired his friendship with Zoe’s brother Brady while trying to get over losing his first love. Now, five years and many, many regrets later, Zoe returns for her beloved grandmother’s funeral and finds the courage to leave Kyle who has become increasingly controlling. Zoe also knows she needs to reveal the secret she has been keeping from Cruz but will it destroy any chance she has at possibly reconciling with the man who still holds her heart?
Zoe is one of the those characters readers might find difficult to like. When she was young she comes across as more impetuous and immature than “free spirited”. It is also difficult to forgive her choice to not tell Cruz the truth before she runs off with Kyle. Despite not being particularly likable, it is all too easy to understand how easy it was for her to allow Kyle to manipulate and control her. After finally breaking free from her abusive relationship, Zoe initially remains a little timid and unsure but she gradually regains her self-confidence and sass. Despite these changes, she is a little slow to own up to her terrible choice regarding keeping quiet about a MAJOR decision she made before leaving town, and Zoe is forced to deal with the consequences once Cruz stumbles onto the truth.
While Zoe is impetuous and a little thoughtless, Cruz is steadfast and loyal. He reluctantly agreed to keep their relationship under wraps in the past and wtheir romance was discovered, her family’s reaction fed into his doubts and insecurities. Zoe did not help the situation by her rash decisions and it was rather easy for external forces to take advantage of his uncertainties. In the intervening years, Cruz conquered his demons with the help of Zoe’s grandmother and his insecurities and lack of self-esteem are now a thing of the past. Cruz still harbors feelings for Zoe, but once he stumbles onto her secret, will he forgive her for her lie of omission?
With a slight element of suspense and a gentle undercurrent of faith, Blue Ridge Sunrise is an engaging romance with endearing characters. While Zoe does not always make the best choices, she does undergo believable growth throughout the story. Cruz has already come to terms with his emotional baggage but he must decide whether or not to absolve Zoe for not being honest with him. Although it takes a backseat to Zoe’s struggles to move past her mistakes, their renewed romance is quite sweet. Despite some of the predictable elements of the storyline, this first installment in Denise Hunter’s Blue Ridge series is an enjoyable read with interesting characters that readers will relate to.