Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are ruined when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.
Watching the love of his life falling 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 he’s 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. He has nightmares and mood swings, and his unwavering independence keeps him from accepting help from anyone, including her. 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 with the two in such close proximity, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into unchartered territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his corded 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?
Just a Kiss is the third book in Denise Hunter’s Summer Harbor series, coming after Falling Like Snowflakes and The Goodbye Bride. I am such a HUGE fan of Denise’s, and actually own, and have loved, both of the previous books in this series. Over the past year or so, Denise has become one of my auto-buy authors, meaning I don’t even have to look at her upcoming releases before preordering them because I know I will love them, and this series has proved that fact true. I’ve preordered all three books, and absolutely loved each one of them, though I have to say, I think this one is my favorite. Just a Kiss is completely and utterly fantastic, and I’m so glad I own my own copy.
Riley Callahan has hid his feelings for his best friend Paige for years, but when she starts dating his brother Beau, it is more than he can bear. Trying to escape his misery, he enlists in the marines, only to have his life turned completely upside down. Now returning home an amputee, Riley deems himself unworthy of Paige, and therefore plans on keeping their relationship distant, especially since she and Beau are no longer a couple. However, his plans are thwarted when he arrives to find out his brothers have left him in her care until he recovers. Will Riley retreat even further, closing of his wounded heart for good, or will he let God take over, healing him heart and soul?
Paige Warren is a born caregiver, and is thrilled at the chance to be there her best friend the way he’s been there for her over the years. When Riley first arrives, it almost seems as if nothing has changed, but it doesn’t take Paige long to realize that is not the case. His happy attitude may be enough to fool his family, but she knows him better than that. As she tries to juggle Riley’s care and her beloved animal shelter job that is in serious jeopardy, Paige begins to notice Riley in a way she never has before. Is she simply falling for another Callahan brother, or is God working on something behind the scenes that will change their relationship forever?
All in all, I absolutely loved this story, and I can’t think of a single thing that I didn’t like about it. Denise’s writing was flawless, I was already in love with Riley and I effortlessly fell for Paige as well, the storyline was perfectly woven together, and I was captivated from beginning to end. Because of that, I cannot imagine giving Just a Kiss anything other than all five bookshelves, and it most definitely has a permanent place on my all-time favorites list. This book reminded me why I am such a big fan of Denise’s, and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next!
To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.