Saturday, October 23, 2021

Riverbend Gap by Denise Hunter

Riverbend Gap by Denise Hunter

I’ve long been a fan of Denise Hunter and her work! How exciting to find this first book in her new series. Isn't that a lovely cover?

Let’s begin with the summary:

She came in search of the family she’d always wanted—and found the kind of love she’d never dared imagine.

When Katelyn Loveland’s car veered off a winding Appalachian Mountain road, she thought she was done for. That is until Cooper Robinson, local sheriff’s deputy, came to her rescue. And though Katie narrowly escaped her brush with death, she still fell. Hard.

She wasn’t the only one. But soon Cooper learns that the woman he’s more attracted to than any he’s ever met is his brother’s new girlfriend—and therefore unquestionably off limits. Yet, despite their best efforts, Cooper and Katie can’t seem to avoid running into each other. Or ignore the undeniable chemistry between them.

As they grow closer, Katie shares secrets from her past and the real reason she moved to their small North Carolina town. She also wins over Cooper’s welcoming and bighearted family. But they don’t know that her feelings for Cooper keep growing—all while she’s dating his brother. Soon the stakes of their emotional connection become higher than either could have imagined.

Katie stands to lose the first family she’s ever had, and a scandal could doom Cooper’s campaign for sheriff. Suddenly they find themselves on the edge of another precipice—and they’re forced to make a decision that could change their lives forever.

And now, my review:

Denise is a master storyteller.

From the opening pages of this story, I was hooked by the peril and the main characters’ chemistry. Very compelling opening scene! We learn of the hero’s competence, career, and nobility right away. The heroine’s strength and courage help us root for her, caring for her immediately.

These two had great banter. He’s not a talker, but when he needs to save someone’s life, he rises and even cracks jokes, helping to calm the other person.

I loved that the hero was a sheriff’s deputy. His goal is to overcome his father’s sins, to shine in his own right, to redeem his family’s reputation. A lofty goal for someone in this fictional small town where everyone’s memories prevail almost as assuredly as their commitment to rumors and gossip.

Deputy Cooper Robinson came alive on the page. I loved his courage and will, his determination to help. He’s fiercely loyal to his family, especially wanting to see his brother Gavin thrive after a devastating loss. This element made me respect Cooper’s why-not in this romance.

Kate Loveland wants a family. She’s on a search for answers and longs for a chance to make amends. She’s also suffering from a loss and could use a support system to help her through. She finds that in this small town, with the Robinson family.

I loved the secondary characters, especially Cooper’s step-dad. His two cents method of letting his step-kids choose whether they wanted his input or not was clever.

Some themes include: discovering your own identity, beyond your family of origin; overcoming the past; loss of family members; overcoming addiction; chasing one's dreams; family devotion. 

This was one of my favorite reads this year. Very enjoyable. Compelling issues and relatable emotional conflicts, but not too heavy. I highlighted phrases in my e-reader as I went, and at some points my notes read simply: magic. Such great dialogue!

We also get to learn more about the Appalachian Trail through this novel. As a northerner who has only ever heard about it, I loved this element. I look forward to reading Gavin’s story at some point in this Riverbend Romance series.

Highly recommended!

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