Lynn, at AAR, had given it an enthusiastic review. Lynn and I share a low threshold for excessively cute small-town contemporary romances. The Christmas He Loved Her is the second in a series set in the small Michigan town of Crystal Lake. The series features “Bad Boys” who find a second chance at life and love in their boyhood home.
I enjoyed The Christmas He Loved Her. The warrior hero, Jake, has been in love with Raine since they were young. Raine, however, married his twin brother Jesse who was later killed while serving in Afghanistan. Jesse has been dead for a year and a half and in that time Jake has stayed far away from Crystal Lake and Raine. Jake returns, still crazy for Raine whom he finds lost in a crippling depression. Jake and Raine share a past so full of pain, memories, guilt and desire that any path to happiness requires their coming to terms with some hard truths. I found their story to be powerful, passionate, and believable. I also liked the setup of what will be the third romance in the series.
So, it was a no-brainer to read the first book in the series This Summer He Came Home. This proved to be a mistake. Not only did I not buy the insta–love between the rock god hero and the “I’m running away from my past” too hot heroine, the language and the elements of the book were so similar to those of The Christmas He Loved Her, they irritated the hell out of me. By the book’s end, I was antsy and irked.
I bet if I had read The Summer He Came Home without having read The Christmas He Loved Her I would have thought it was okay. I don’t think I would have loved it but I don’t think it would’ve made me so dissatisfied.
There are few series I can glom (read a bunch of). Even ones that make the top of my list like Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green or Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster series, lose some of their sway when read in a day. Perhaps I’m too easily bored by the familiar.
I am looking forward to the next book in the Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series. Ms. Stone writes fluently and I genuinely like the town of Crystal Lake and its inhabitants. If you’re looking for a strong small-town contemporary romance pick up The Christmas He Loved Her. Don’t, however, read the book that precedes it right after you’re done.