FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Brook Cottage Books.
Series: The Bradens #13
Publisher: World Literary Press (Self-Published) on June 11, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (Adult)
Nate Braden has loved his best friend’s younger sister Jewel for as long as he can remember, but between their age difference and his respect for Rick, he’s always kept his feelings at bay.
Now he’s back in Peaceful Harbor, and Jewel is no longer sixteen years old—but there’s an even bigger obstacle standing in his way.
Nate and Rick joined the military together eight years earlier.
Nate came home a hero, but Rick didn’t make it out alive.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
The baby sister of his best friend, Jewel was always too young for Nate, but that didn’t stop him from falling in love with her. But then he and Rick headed off to war, and when the bullets stopped flying, only Nate was left. He’s avoided Rick’s family for the past couple of years, but when he sees Jewel again, he’s faced with both his love for her and his guilt over having send Rick on the mission that killed him.
Well, in case the five star rating was too subtle, I loved it! I kept thinking I knew what was coming, but as usual, Melissa Foster took a classic romance plot and twisted it up a bit to have me turning pages as fast as I could!
I love romances between characters who already have history, whether it’s friendship or school or just common links that don’t have them meeting as complete strangers. I think it’s that they can be themselves a little more, not deal with the usual getting-to-know-you drama. And of course it doesn’t hurt that they already care about each other.
Jewel really seemed to have everything together, even though she was clearly stretching herself too thin in trying to work and also help her mother with her younger siblings. But all her responsibilities kept her from having much of a life for herself, and even if she’d had the opportunity, her heart was still tied up in Nate, the guy who’d been her late brother’s best friend and who’d set her on fire with an unexpected kiss one New Year’s Eve. Nate, on the other hand, was riddled with guilt over his role in Rick’s death. Having been the one to send Rick on the supply run that resulted in his death, robbing him of his best friend, miring him in guilt, and making it difficult to face Rick’s family.
I think what I loved most was how forthcoming Jewel was. She tried to tamp down her feelings for Nate, thinking that he really only looked at her like a sibling, but when that proved to be impossible, she just went for it. And even when Nate was running hot and cold, she just put it all out there and took a shot at landing the man she loved. And Nate, despite his hesitation, didn’t really make a secret of his feelings, either — at least not once it was clear that she wanted him. Granted, he still had some things to work through, and he felt a bit like he was maybe taking advantage of her, but both characters were pretty clear when it came to expressing their emotions.
What really surprised me, though, was when it came out that Jewel’s sense of responsibility to her family wasn’t simply selfless service but more rooted in fear of losing anyone else. Having lost her father and older brother, she played Mother Hen to protect what was left of them. Watching Jewel and Nate both navigate their own issues from loss was intense but rewarding, and had they not been such open people, they never would have made it.
So yeah, once again, Melissa Foster has written the perfect romance. Strong friendship, deep emotions, and of course plenty of chemistry. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again… Grab the whole Bradens series and get comfortable. It’s an awesome ride.