BOOK 1: Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter
BOOK 2: The Goodbye Bride
Just a Kiss description:
Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.
Watching the love of his life fall 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 Riley is 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. 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, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his 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?
This book was a lot more about the romance than the other 2 books. No woman on the run or woman with amnesia, just 2 people trying to figure out how to make the love thing work. Though, it always irritates me when people act like it’s crazy for best friends to fall in love, like you love spending all your time with the one person who understands you better than anyone else in the world, and yet you don’t think a relationship would work? Doesn’t make sense. Regardless of that, I think Hunter did a good job of capturing the struggles Riley was going through after not only losing his leg, but also seeing the horrors of war. His character really felt rounded out, and the journey was a good one that focused on a lot of different things a person like that may need to go through when they come home. However, Paige felt a bit repetitive at times, and the whole Darleen scene felt a little too contrived even for a romance novel. Paige did feel realistic, it’s just that I think Hunter could’ve found different ways of approaching her issues or have her deal with them, honestly there did feel like the book might have needed one more read through on the editing end. In the end, though, this book did a great job of rounding out the series, and I’d love to find more by her.
Lastly, and it’s not a knock against the book exactly, it did bother me that the fact that Riley came out of the military disabled, and yet none of his benefits were mentioned. Like getting disability or the GI Bill, which would’ve helped with some of the complaints he had when trying to readjust to the civilian life. Like needing money, and not having a degree. Then again, even some veterans don’t take advantage of these benefits, or even seem to realize they’re available, so I can’t completely fault Hunter for not mentioning these facts.