Linda Reads: The Christmas He Loved Her by Juliana Stone

This is book two of the series The Bad Boys of Crystal Lake.  You can read about book one, The Summer He Came Home, here.

Jesse Edwards was killed in Afghanistan and his widow, Raine, is having a very difficult time coping with his death.  Having an equally hard time is Jesse’s fraternal twin, Jake, who served with Jesse and was there when Jesse was killed.  What complicates the situation even more, Jesse, Jake and Raine were best friends growing up together.  Raine loved both brothers in different ways, but chose Jesse to marry – leaving Jake heartbroken.   Because he can’t come to terms with Jesse’s death and he can’t face Raine, Jake stays away from Crystal Lake.  Eighteen months go by before he has the courage to come home for Christmas.

Raine Edwards is barely coping with her husband Jesse’s death.  She’s depressed and isolates herself from everyone.  Jake is her best friend and she can’t understand why he is avoiding coming home to help her through her grief.  When he finally does comes home, Raine is angry, hurt and confused.

This book is an emotional roller coaster that follows Jake and Raine from a childhood friendship to devastating grief and through every emotion imaginable until they find love.

The Christmas He Loved Her isn’t your typical Christmas story.  The grief and pain of these two characters tears at your heart.  Even though they are surrounded by family, friends and the whole town of Crystal Lake, their struggle is heart wrenching.  But love has amazing healing powers and their journey is a very enjoyable read!

Linda Reads: The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice

luanne rice

Luanne Rice

Luanne Rice is the author of 31 novels, including 22 New York Times bestsellers.  Five of her books have been made into movies and mini-series.

Luanne was born in New Britain, CT and spent most of her life in Connecticut.  She currently divides her time between New York City and Southern California.  She is an avid environmentalist and advocate for families affected by domestic violence.  Her first published poem appeared in the Hartford Courant.  Her first novel, Angels All Over Town, was published in 1985.  Many of her books take place in or have a connection to Connecticut.

Ms Rice delivers another captivating book, The Lemon Orchard.  It’s a love story between two people from completely different worlds, but with a common bond from their pasts.  The story starts off in Connecticut and moves to Santa Barbara, California.

Five years after a family tragedy, Julia, an anthropologist who graduated from Yale, goes to Malibu to house-sit her aunt and uncle’s house located in their lemon orchard.  She hopes to start healing and move on with her life.  There she meets the handsome, illegal immigrant who oversees the orchard, Roberto.  She learns that Roberto is also trying to heal and move on from a devastating loss in his life.  Their relationship starts off as a comforting friendship and moves on to something more.  Julia then realizes that she might be able to help Roberto resolve the issue from his past.

Ms Rice is quite skilled in character development and sets a beautiful stage with her descriptive settings.  She deals deftly with grief and loss, love, forgiveness and redemption.  This book is also quite relevant as it explores the world of illegal immigrants and the struggle they endure to try to live a better life.