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?
My thoughts: Denise Hunter is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors but I guess everyone has a book that doesn't click with everyone. This is one of them. I was looking so forward to reading JUST A KISS and getting Riley and Paige's story but I couldn't connect with these characters.
Riley is a wounded hero. He lost a leg in Afghanistan and is now home to recover. He's sore, he's angry, suffering from PTSD, and majorly bitter. He things Paige only feels sorry for her and even though she tells him over and over that she loves him he keeps pushing her away. Paige expects to loose everything and everyone. Her dad died, her mom informed her that she wasn't really her daughter, and then her boss comes in to tell her that they are closing the shelter where she works. And Riley, of course, he'll leave her -- just like everyone else. Paige and her friends (the other Callahan brides) come up with ingenious ideas for raising money to save the shelter and that adds a bit of intrigue to the story. Can they or can't they? And will Riley actually stick around? The faith message is weak, and as a very conservative reader, I was bothered by the soft swear words and the taking of God's name in vain in this book. I found that offensive. I realize I'm probably in the minority here, but it really bothered me. I will continue to read Ms. Hunter's books, and hope this one is in the minority.