A December Bride
About This Book
What started as a whim turned into an accidental—and very public—engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the façade in Chapel Springs this holiday season—for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?
Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy, the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiancé, would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency, a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement until she’s landed her client. For Layla, it’s the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it’s his last chance to win her heart.
I have long been a huge fan of Denise’s electrifying contemporary romances, and this novella did not disappoint. It delivered everything I expected and more! The prose and dialogue were flawless. Every scene flowed smoothly and logically, with equal balance between the prose and dialogue.
Characters are always a major strength in a Denise Hunter novel, and the same was true of this novella. Seth and Layla were engaging and likeable from the very beginning, and I was particularly rooting for Seth, as I have a personal fondness for long-suffering, love-from-afar heroes who dare to risk their hearts. The minor characters did include cameo appearances from the first Chapel Springs novel, Barefoot Summer, and even tossed a few setup crumbs about the hero of book two, Dancing with Fireflies.
I’ve never been a jilted fiancée, but I could still relate to Layla’s desire to save face as she is forced to watch her ex walk down the aisle with the woman he dumped her for. And I could relate to Seth’s sweet but horribly misguided attempt to stand up for her. Each had their believable reasons for continuing their fake engagement, and the interplay of fake versus real emotion provided great tension.
I love Christmas, and I love all the holiday cheer that infused this story! Mostly set in Seth’s historic house as it is decorated for a local Tour of Homes, I could really see the elegant rooms and nostalgic decorations Layla brought to it.
As for romantic tension, oh, lordy—it’s what Denise Hunter does best! A pining hero + a reluctant heroine = sizzling chemistry! I love how Denise isn’t afraid to let her characters be attracted to one another physically as well as spiritually and emotionally—something many inspirational authors shy away from. But Denise is a master of creating and expressing romantic tension on all its God-ordained levels while still maintaining a chaste, spiritually-driven story.
It’s a romance, so of course the outcome is predictable. But Denise writes such passionate and realistic characters that it is always a thrill to watch how they come together. This novella will appeal to teenage and mature women readers who enjoy clean, sweet-but-spicy romances. I would gladly recommend this story to my non-Christian friends and family. This is a fast, fun, scintillating read too good and too short to put down! It’s definitely one for the Keeper Shelf.
In terms of questionable content, the premise of this story is based on a deliberate (albeit spontaneously fabricated) lie. And while it is certainly questioned and doubted as the story progresses, some readers may object to the fact that, in the end, the characters get away with it without ever publicly admitting the truth.
Denise Hunter does it again! A December Bride kicks off Zondervan’s “Year of Weddings” novella collection with a tantalizing, homespun-Christmas bang! This short, very fast read is a delectable feast of heart, heat, and holiday cheer, and reunites readers with many of the major characters from her full-length Chapel Springs novels.
Available November 26, 2014 from Zondervan