Friday, December 26, 2014

Review: A December Bride (Novella)

A December Bride
By Denise Hunter
A Year of Weddings
Zondervan, 2013


A year’s worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.

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 farce 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.

My thoughts

A December Bride by Denise Hunter kicks off a twelve-month series of romantic novellas by various inspirational authors. Some of the Chapel Springs characters are brought in, but it stands alone. I've always enjoyed Denise's writing and this short novella is no exception. It's a light, fun, and satisfying read. Two scenes  - one involving gingerbread cookies, the other a sleigh - were especially touching.

As far as characterization, I loved Seth; Layla, not so much, at least in the beginning. Seth has the qualities we love in our heroes - patience, honesty, humor, tenderness, sacrificial nature. Layla, on the other hand, came across as self centered, overly ambitious, and thoughtless of Seth's feelings - although we do see gradual change in her.

Denise is not only an excellent writer, but she excels at romance. Even in this novella format, she tells an enjoyable story and there was good character depth with Seth. But I didn't feel this format provided adequate time for Layla to grow enough that I could connect with her.

Christian themes are more subtle in Denise's writing, but very much present. Readers can't help but be challenged by the question, How far are we willing to go in order to achieve our goal? And is the goal one of our own making, or God's plan for us? Another thought is the preoccupation we often have of concern over what other people think of us, often more of a problem than we would like for it to be.

I enjoyed A December Bride overall and recommend it to all romance fans.

Denise Hunter

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.comFacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Thank you to Zondervan for providing an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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