Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

I’m a fan of Denise’s work. Last year, two of her great books were turned into movies for Hallmark and I was one of the many who live-tweeted and jumped into the fun. 

Let’s begin with the summary for this book:

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

And now, my review:

This book is a tough one. The heroine has been through some horrific things, which she never told the hero during their broken marriage. When we meet him, he’s very unlikable, and he stays that way for much of the first half of the book.  

I have no doubt this book will minister to people who’ve been through something similar to the heroine, and I can understand why Francine Rivers gives the book such a glowing recommendation, given her topic in Redeeming Love. But this book was a very difficult read for me. (And no, I haven’t experienced what these characters have.) 

Though the cover doesn’t indicate it, much of the story takes place in a snowstorm. The writing kept me shivering the whole time, even though I read the book in May. 😊
I like how, as usual, Denise doesn’t sugarcoat her story elements. I respect that, and that’s why I believe this book will minister to people. And because I needed that HEA, I did read to the end, though I admit I skimmed some passages. 

Honestly, I felt this book was rushed in the version I read (ARC). That there wasn’t enough time taken with the likability element, especially for the hero, but even for the heroine. I didn’t expect them to be perfect; I like flawed characters—they’re more relatable. I’ll be watching for the next book in this series because I’m still a fan, even though this book wasn’t my favorite. I recommend readers check out Denise's author letter for more information about this story, and I recommend sensitive readers tread with caution.

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