Review: The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone

All he wants this Christmas is her.

In the small town of Crystal Lake, Christmas is a time for sledding, hot chocolate, and cozying up to the fire with those you love. For Jake Edwards, it’s also time to come home and face his past. He thought there would never be anything harder than losing his brother. Turns out there is: falling in love with his brother’s widow, Raine.

Ever since they were little, Jesse was the Edwards brother who was always there for her, and Jake was the one who knew just how to push her buttons. Raine can’t imagine a life without them, which is why it was doubly decimating when Jake left town after his brother’s sudden death. Now he’s back and she doesn’t know whether to be mad or thrilled. Maybe both. Maybe it will be the perfect chance for both of them to finally find happiness again.

Since Jake was about 17, hanging out with his friends, he’s wanted Raine to be his. Unfortunately for him his twin brother Jesse laid claim to Raine and Jake was left to pine for her. Jump to years later and life has taken some major turns. Both Jesse and Jake entered the military and Jesse gets killed in Afghanistan. Not long after Jesse’s funeral we learn that Jake couldn’t handle being in his hometown and takes off to parts unknown.

Our story starts when it’s been about 18 months since Jesse’s funeral and Jake’s subsequent bug out. He’s still not dealing well with Jesse’s death and his feelings for Raine. Raine is in a deep depression for a multitude of reasons having to do with both Jesse and Jake and neither one of them knows how to handle what their going through.

This story was much more somber and intense than I thought it would be. With Raine being in a depression and just sleeping for days on end, not being able to get up and function it was just so sad. She tried to function but she really just wanted to crawl into a hole. Yes, she had friends and she had Jesse’s family but to her way of thinking she just didn’t matter anymore. It made my heart ache for what she was going through.

For Jake it was his guilt over the day Jesse died and how he felt he should have done something different in order to cause a different outcome. Of course there was nothing he could have done but that’s not what he believed. He also was torn about his feelings for Raine. He’d always loved her but felt he shouldn’t show those feelings just because his brother was dead. It was really a rock/hard place situation for him. Raine would make him happy but the guilt over Jesse would make him miserable. I couldn’t imagine what he was going through but Ms. Stone did a great job of getting me into Jake’s head and helping me feel what he was feeling.

Then there were Jake and Jesse’s parents. They were just fantastic and a wonderful addition to the story. I’m not sure this book would have been as good without their presence. They added an element to the story that was quite moving and I loved it.

Overall this was a very emotional read. Don’t pick this one up if you want fun and light – that’s not what you’ll get. What you will get is love and the trials two people live through before they can be together.

Rating: 3.75/4 out of 5

Juliana Stone

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