I voluntarily received an ARC of Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter in exchange for an honest review.
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?
Just a Kiss is a sweet and classic romance. Riley has been in love with his best friend Paige for years, but has never told her due to fearing she won’t feel the same way.
Although not for some readers, the Christian aspects of Riley and Paige’s story were by far my favorite. I found it refreshing to have prayer and scriptures included in a new adult romance. The scenes that did include references to scripture or prayer flowed seamlessly without seaming overbearing.
I really enjoyed how Denise Hunter incorporated the physical and emotional struggles men and women experience after returning home from war into the story. Denise Hunter did a great job showcasing Riley’s hesitancy to accept professional help, even though in the end counseling helped Riley overcome his demons.