On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter

On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter finishes her Blue Ridge Romance series, focusing on residents in Copper Creek, Georgia.

I love the first line to the book, “Jack McReady had fallen in love with Daisy in one-hour increments.”

Jack, a pastor, and Daisy Pendleton, co-owner of Oopsy Daisy flower shop, have known each other for years. Nevertheless, even though Jack has feelings for Daisy, she does not appear to return them.

Overall, I enjoyed On Magnolia Lane. It was fun catching up with characters from the other books in the series. Also, there is a bit of mystery, and there are several surprises intertwined amidst the main story.

But.. (pesky word that, huh?)

The TORTURE of getting to Jack and Daisy’s romance was sometimes too much. Around 16 to 17 chapters elapsed before Daisy even thought about Jack as a possible love interest, and another four chapters or so before it even looked like romance could be a possibility. In addition, some of Jack’s storyline, primarily because he’s a pastor, seemed less than truthful or pastor-like.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy Denise Hunter’s books. She handles true-to-life situations, focuses on forgiveness and has a constant thread of Biblical principles and beliefs interwoven throughout the narrative-all done in such a way as to make for pleasant reading.

On Magnolia Lane can be read as a stand-alone book but is more relatable reading the series in order.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

After two years of counseling sessions with Daisy Pendleton, Pastor Jack McReady has earned a permanent spot in her life as a spiritual leader—and nothing more. Jack would never risk losing her trust by exposing the depths of his heart, but he’s hopelessly in love with her.

Daisy loves her southern small-town life and her job at her family-run flower shop, but she doesn’t have the thing she longs for most: someone to share it with. Her recent foray into online dating has been a disaster—until she meets TJ.

Jack could kill his friend Noah for using his initials and some indistinct photos to set up a profile on the dating app Daisy is using. But when he’s finally afforded the opportunity to show her a different side of himself, he’s sucked into the plan before he has time for second thoughts.

Online, Daisy shares some of her greatest fears with TJ, but in person, Jack and Daisy are spending more time together. When a devastating family secret surfaces, Daisy knows that only her trusted friend and counselor can bring her comfort. Jack wants nothing more than to be both men for Daisy, but revealing his secret will prove to be the ultimate test of Daisy’s grace.

Advertisements

First Line Fridays-On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter Hosted by Hoarding Books!!

Publisher’s Summary

Falling in love with Daisy was easy for Jack. But finding the courage to tell her becomes problematic when his secret feelings lead to even bigger complications.

After two years of counseling sessions with Daisy Pendleton, Pastor Jack McReady has earned a permanent spot in her life as a spiritual leader—and nothing more. Jack would never risk losing her trust by exposing the depths of his heart, but he’s hopelessly in love with her.

Daisy loves her southern small-town life and her job at her family-run flower shop, but she doesn’t have the thing she longs for most: someone to share it with. Her recent foray into online dating has been a disaster—until she meets TJ.

Jack could kill his friend Noah for using his initials and some indistinct photos to set up a profile on the dating app Daisy is using. But when he’s finally afforded the opportunity to show her a different side of himself, he’s sucked into the plan before he has time for second thoughts.

Online, Daisy shares some of her greatest fears with TJ, but in person, Jack and Daisy are spending more time together. When a devastating family secret surfaces, Daisy knows that only her trusted friend and counselor can bring her comfort. Jack wants nothing more than to be both men for Daisy, but revealing his secret will prove to be the ultimate test of Daisy’s grace.

My Comments

This is book three in Denise Hunter’s Blue Ridge Romance series. I am enjoying it so much, I can’t wait to finish so I can review it!!

Now it’s your turn!

Go grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. To see the First Lines others are sharing this week make your way to Hoarding Books.

Honeysuckle Dreams (A Blue Ridge Romance) by Denise Hunter

My Review

Denise Hunter has written a marriage of convenience story that is not as predictable as most stories like this are. Honeysuckle Dreams deals with multiple issues faced by a widowed single father of a pre-toddler. Premarital sex, pregnancy and revenge-seeking ex-in-laws complicate life with the baby caught in the middle.

I enjoyed reading Honeysuckle Dreams. I like books that deal with true to life events and have a more inspirational, uplifting message. Though this is a romance with an HEA (Happily Ever After), the story is more realistic. It is this aspect that draws me to Denise Hunter’s books. She doesn’t use sensational, coarse details, yet she manages to get the ideas across.

Hunter’s characters have you rooting for the good guys and hissing and booing at the bad guys. Her individuals’ lives and stories touch you deeply, leaving you thinking of them after you have set the book down.

Honeysuckle Dreams is a great book highlighting love, forgiveness, second chances, compassion and reconciliation.

Although this isn’t the first book in the Blue Ridge Romance series, it can very easily be read as a stand-alone book.

I received this book from The Fiction Guild sponsored by Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

After Brady Collins’ ex-wife dies, he receives devastating news—his nine-month-old son Sam isn’t his son at all. And Sam’s wealthy maternal grandparents want custody of the child. Brady knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But regardless of what any blood test says, Sam is his son, and Brady will go to any lengths to keep him.

Brady’s attorney tips him off that one major life change would virtually assure him of winning guardianship of baby Sam at the final hearing: an impending marriage. And his friend Hope is willing to step in as the loving and devoted fiance.

Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has been driven by a solitary goal her entire life, and after a happy accident she’s finally offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams.

As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find.

Blue Ridge Sunrise (A Blue Ridge Romance) by Denise Hunter

My Review

Denise Hunter’s newest book, Blue Ridge Sunrise, is a little edgier than most of her books, indeed more so than most books in the Christian genre. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story.

Zoe Collins ran from Copper Creek as fast as she could. A tragic misunderstanding undermined her feelings of self-worth, and she took off, with the town’s bad boy-Kyle Jimmerson-to become a famous songstress. Things were seeming to go well, and their band, Brevity, was making a name for itself. However, as is often the case, life got in the way.

Cruz Huntley could not understand why Zoe fled, leaving him with a broken heart.  Now that she is back, he’s not sure where he stands.

There are some weighty issues dealt with in Blue Ridge Sunrise, for instance; two issues are premarital sex and domestic abuse. Portions of the book are a little difficult to read. Readers should be aware that Blue Ridge Sunrise does not have an explicit gospel message in which its characters’ broken lives are redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ.  Rather, the characters in this novel are strengthened by hardship and adversity. Seeing them emerge stronger, in the end, is inspiring and fits the book well into the genre of inspirational fiction. Due to some of the situations depicted in the story, I would suggest this book be read by those in their mid-teens or older. This novel could be used as a catalyst to open up a line of meaningful dialogue (and I sincerely hope it will!).

I received this book from Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now–five years later.

 

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Publisher’s Summary

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?

My Review

Josephine Miller wants nothing more than to get her divorce from Noah and get on with her life. However, her traitorous heart keeps getting in the way. She can’t still love him, can she?

Noah’s heart was broken by Josephine, and he wants as much distance between the two of them as he possibly can. Now, to add insult to injury, he discovers their divorce was never finalized! Would he never be free of Josephine?

I alternated between heartache for Noah and Josephine, frustration at their hard headedness and sadness at their lack of and inadequate communication.

Denise Hunter has written a poignant, bittersweet story of heartbreak and betrayal. The characters are complex but well developed. Sweetbriar Cottage isn’t your normal, charming happily ever after story. The subject matter is hard-hitting but realistic, daunting but authentic. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there is redemption. Ms. Hunter has interwoven faith and conviction seamlessly into the story without making the reader feel as if they are being preached to or beaten over the head with her message.

Sweetbriar Cottage is a difficult book to read but very much worth taking the time to read.

I received a copy of Sweetbriar Cottage from The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to provide a review.