When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.
Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.
Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.
But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.
As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?
GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary Romance
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2017
“Sweetbriar Cottage is a wonderful story, full of emotional tension and evocative prose. Josephine and Noah, though deeply wounded, are easy to love in this story of second chances and unconditional love. Hunter slowly feeds critical pieces of backstory to keep the pages turning. You’ll feel involved in these characters’ lives and carried along by their story as tension ratchets up to a climactic and satisfying conclusion. Terrific read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” —FRANCINE RIVERS, bestselling author of Redeeming Love
“Denise Hunter’s newest novel, Sweetbriar Cottage, is a story to fall in love with. True-to-life characters, high stakes, and powerful chemistry blend to tell an emotional story of reconciliation. Readers will sympathize with Josephine’s tragic past and root for a happy ending as old wounds give way to new beginnings.” –BRENDA NOVAK, NYT bestselling author
“Hunter crafts Noah and Josephine’s convoluted relationship with remarkable depth, immersing readers into a fragile and soul-searching experience.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“The familiar wave of shame was still there, staining her with guilt.”
This book had me at ‘Denise Hunter’ and the cover. Ok, technically it had me at ‘Denise Hunter’ and the gorgeous cover just sealed the deal. One of my favorite contemporary romance authors, she never shies away from authentic (sometimes painful) life wrapped in grace. She also writes some truly fabulous kisses, and the always-tasteful chemistry in her books is not to be missed! In fact, it’s always best to read her books from the safety of your favorite swoon-protective surface.
I love how Denise Hunter so often weaves the story of Jesus’ unconditional love for us into the hero’s pursuit of the heroine. Perhaps nowhere is this more clearly seen than in Sweetbriar Cottage. It takes a bit to get to that point though, for Noah is only human and just as flawed as Josie in his own way. The last thing he intends to do is pursue Josie … never again. But in his very nature, deep in his character, that tender love he once felt for her shows up in ways neither would ever have dreamed they would need.
Sweetbriar Cottage runs the gamut of emotions – passion, love, betrayal, anger, shame, and guilt. As the story progresses, we are also introduced to glimmers of hope, lots of grace, and a healthy dose of drama that will have you on the edge of your chair, frantically turning pages and not daring to breathe. I can honestly say that I had no idea how this one would turn out – and I loved every minute of it. I felt Josephine’s pain – and Noah’s – and I became deeply invested in their journey.
A journey, by the way, that as I’ve mentioned is more than just a story of two people who suddenly discover they aren’t really divorced. There are fantastic chemistry and swoonworthy kisses to be sure, but it’s also an emotionally-charged story of adultery, childhood abuse, insecurity, shame and pride. Most importantly, it’s a story of healing. The kind that can’t be found in another person’s arms but only at the feet of Jesus. As Pastor Jack said to Josie after church one Sunday:
“Human love has its limits, I guess…But if you’re searching for a love that’ll never let you down, you’ve come to the right place.”
Bottom Line: Sweetbriar Cottage may have just joined The Convenient Groom as my favorite read from Denise Hunter. It’s not an easy read – and it’s certainly not all kisses and sunshine. But in a world where the love of so many has already grown cold, I crave fiction that shows the kind of love that refuses to let go. Noah and Josie’s story does just that, though maybe not in the way you first imagine. So much of this compelling novel took me by surprise, but I was captivated through every minute of it.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / Powerful!
KissingBook Level: 4+ / Keep those fans and fainting couches handy!
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Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Carol Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty nest.
What about you? Noah and Josie are snowed in by a relentless snow storm. Have you ever been snowed in to the point that you started to worry?