Review: The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake #2)
September 24 2013
Mass Market Paperback
Received from publisher via NetGalley
Yummy Man – Jake Edwards
Kick Ass Chicks – Raine Edwards
From Goodreads –
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.
The Christmas He Loved Her is the second book in Juliana Stone’s Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series. I am really enjoying this series. Juliana has such a knack at writing characters that are so full of depth it’s hard not to fully engross yourself in these books. The first book, The Summer He Came Home, grabbed me by the heart strings and didn’t let go until the very end (and even a bit after that) and The Christmas He Loved Her took me for the same kind of ride.
The Christmas He Loved Her follows Jake and Raine as they grow to realize that they are meant to be together, even as a second chance. Raine was married to Jake’s twin brother. He died while fighting with the military overseas and Raine has been absolutely devastated, and understandably so. We see her try to cope in the first book and it actually looks like she is doing quite well. But in this book we see the depth of her despair. As sad as it was, I don’t feel Juliana ever reached a level where it became too much or forced. I felt for Raine and her situation and was excited for her as I watched her heal little by little. She is a strong woman who had to face an absolutely horrible thing yet managed to get through it. You see her deal with guilt and depression and finally joy and love. It’s lovely to see and quite well written.
Before I get to Jake, I want to deal with the whole ‘she fell in love with her brother-in-law – ew!’ that you are probably thinking about right about now. Let’s get out of the way that Jake and Jesse were not identical twins. Now, I thought it would be a little odd at first but, from what we find out, Jesse and Jake are different enough that you don’t feel like Raine is replacing one with the other. Jake has always loved Raine but could never have her since she was with Jesse. And Raine has always loved Jake but more in a best-friend sort of way. Now Jake has the chance to do something about his feelings but doesn’t feel right taking it because of the situation. When Raine and Jake do finally get together, it feels very natural and not ‘eeky’ at all. Jake and Raine really are the reason why the other heals. It’s actually quite nice to read.
Now for Jake. I did want to smack him once in a while but that is part of his charm. He really was destroyed by losing his twin brother. He knew he should be there for Raine but had no idea how to do that. She was doing a great job convincing everyone she was okay and even though he should have known better, he left to try to clear his head. That was a bad idea because not only did it do nothing for Jake, Raine felt left behind twice – once by her husband and once by one of her very best friends. When Jake comes back, it takes a while for him to figure things out but once he clues in, he’s golden. I liked his progression. It felt very natural to me. It makes total sense that someone in his situation would be lost one moment and confident the next, on a known path one time and feeling completely lost and alone the next.
As I mentioned, and as you can tell by what I’ve said about the book so far, this is a very emotional book but not once was it too emotional for me. All of the feelings that came out of the book were all warranted and not once did they feel forced just for the story’s sake. Juliana certainly wrote a book filled with sorrow and loss but also a book filled with hope and that is the part that stood out the most for me while reading. It was the joy that came out at the end. Never was Jesse forgotten but Jake and Raine simply learned that life must go on or you will lose more than the person you loved. You will lose yourself and that is not worth doing.
Overall, I quite enjoyed The Christmas He Loved Her. The characters were well balance and made sense. This book is about finding love and learning you are not alone when tragedy strikes and it is done well. I am very anxious for The Day He Kissed Her, book three, which is releasing April 1st 2014. A long wait but I’m sure it will be well worth it.