Dancing with Fireflies
By Denise Hunter
Chapel Springs Series, #2
Thomas Nelson, 2014
Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she'd never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He's loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she's back, his feelings are stronger than ever.
As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she's hiding secrets from her family, and she's strangely attracted to the man who's always called her "squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.
Dancing with Fireflies is the first of Denise's books that I've read - and from the standpoint of characterization, plot, writing, and romantic theme, I loved it. To put it simply, Denise knows how to write romance that captures the reader's emotions and keeps you turning the pages. Reading the previous book first, Barefoot Summer, would have made for a richer reading experience, but I quickly became familiar with the setting and characters.
I love that there is a whole family we can get attached to through the Chapel Springs series - the McKinleys. This is the story of daughter Jade and a young man taken in by her family, who has been like a brother to Jade for many years. Character development and romance are this story's strengths - and I mean romance that really sizzles, but in a good way!
Daniel is a character that I will long remember, for he embodies all that we like to see in our leading men - tender, self-sacrificing, compassionate, patient and faithful. Expected to follow in his family's political path, the McKinleys represented everything that was lacking in his own - "His parents had been gone more than they were home, distracted more than they were present." Being mayor of Chapel Springs was only the first step down a long political road in his parents' minds, yet it was here that Daniel found peace and fulfillment in serving the community.
Jade is a complex character, one who I was strangely drawn to. Maybe it was that we share a love for the arts through music, plus the fact that she worked her way through a painful situation and rose above her circumstances. The bond between Jade and Daniel drives this story, and I enjoyed watching the friendship that is so important in a relationship gradually grow into so much more.
For the longest time, I kept wanting faith to have more significance in the story - because even though we know the McKinleys go to church, etc., faith is rarely mentioned and doesn't seem important in their daily lives. Yet when you look at their actions, Jade and Daniel are living out their faith and spiritual growth does take place. And I loved these wise words of Jade's mom toward the end as she encourages Jade to trust in God: "The same sun that burns a shallow rooted plant will nourish a deeply rooted one."
Daniel remembered Jade all those years ago,
"spinning in the yard with the fireflies, skirt twirling
around her legs. Daniel wasn't sure where that girl,
the one dancing with fireflies, had gone. He missed her."
Maybe I'm reading more into this than Denise intended, but I even think the title alludes to the spiritual. Dancing with Fireflies made me look back to a time of innocence and joy that was Jade before difficult circumstances tore away that joy, and then look forward to the restoration that is possible for all of us through Christ.
I thoroughly enjoyed Dancing with Fireflies and feel that I have discovered a new writer that I want to follow. Highly recommended to fans of contemporary romance.
Denise Hunter is an internationally published best-selling author. Her books have won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and was a RITA finalist. In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all of her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps, too. When Denise isn't writing, she's busy raising three heroes-in-the-making with her husband.
Meet Denise online at denisehunterbooks.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Also see the Litfuse Blog Tour post for more information.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.