This review is part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours.
~ About the Book ~
After two years of counseling sessions with Daisy Pendleton, Pastor Jack McReady has earned a permanent spot in her life as a spiritual leader—and nothing more. Jack would never risk losing her trust by exposing the depths of his heart, but he’s hopelessly in love with her.
Daisy loves her southern small-town life and her job at her family-run flower shop, but she doesn’t have the thing she longs for most: someone to share it with. Her recent foray into online dating has been a disaster—until she meets TJ.
Jack could kill his friend Noah for using his initials and some indistinct photos to set up a profile on the dating app Daisy is using. But when he’s finally afforded the opportunity to show her a different side of himself, he’s sucked into the plan before he has time for second thoughts.
Online, Daisy shares some of her greatest fears with TJ, but in person, Jack and Daisy are spending more time together. When a devastating family secret surfaces, Daisy knows that only her trusted friend and counselor can bring her comfort. Jack wants nothing more than to be both men for Daisy, but revealing his secret will prove to be the ultimate test of Daisy’s grace.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: #3 Blue Ridge Romance
Release date: 6 November 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
~ Excerpt ~
Jack tried not to fixate on Daisy at the other end of the table as she conversed with her girlfriends, Hope and Josephine. Second Chance, the local country band, was gearing up to play, and it was standing room only at the Rusty Nail. Music blared through the speakers, and the smell of grilled burgers and french fries made his stomach rumble.
A crack of thunder sounded over the music, and rain pounded the metal roof overhead.
“It’s really coming down out there,” Jack said to his friend, Brady—the only other male still sitting at the row of tables they’d strung together.
Brady ran a hand though his short dark hair, his blue eyes flickering to the nearest window. “There’s a thunderstorm warning. Looked pretty nasty on the radar.”
“Well, we need the rain.”
Daisy suddenly appeared across the table from Jack, jumpstarting his heart. “How’d Gloria like the flowers?”
Her green eyes were laser-focused on him, her sweet perfume filling his senses. She wore a little makeup tonight, and her lips looked expecially lush.
He pulled his eyes away, ignoring the way his heart punished his ribs. “Um, she liked them.”
“Oh. Great.” She nodded, waiting for him to expound on the thought.
Jack searched for something else to say but got distracted by the way the light reflected off her hair, making it glitter like spun gold.
Say something. Heat rose from the collar of his buttondown shirt as his mind spun like tires in a snowbank.
Traction. He just needed a little traction. “Um . . . she really loves flowers.” There was that master’s degree at work.
Daisy blinked. “Right. Well. I’m glad she liked them.”
Another awkward pause ensued. Jack filled it with a plastic smile.
“I’m just gonna”—Daisy gestured toward the bar—”go get something to drink.”
“You want anything?”
He reached for his Coke. “That’s okay, I’ve got”—he bumped his glass, and soda sloshed over the side—”plenty.” He grabbed his napkin and began mopping up the mess.
Really, Jack? Really?
“Right,” she said. “Okay, I’ll be back.”
He closed his eyes in a long blink, half hoping he’d vanish. Or she’d vanish. Or he suddenly knew what the heck he was doing. He was such an idiot. His palms were damp, and the back of his neck had broken out in a sweat.
Brady leaned closer, smelling faintly of car grease and bake dust. “How can someone so eloquent in the pulpit turn into that when a woman comes around?”
Taken from “On Magnolia Lane” by Denise Hunter
Copyright © 2018 by Denise Hunter
Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/
~ Review ~
Romances that involve an element of deception between the main characters always make me a little anxious, but in spite of my deception-related anxiety, I quite enjoyed this story. Jack was an endearing hero—confident in his role as pastor yet tentative and unsure of himself when it came to his friendship with Daisy. It was also refreshing to have a heroine who showed no signs of attraction to the hero for the first part of the story. (Not even those annoying little clichéd ‘clues’ that are so obvious to the reader but somehow utterly perplexing to the character!) The development of Daisy’s feelings were a gradual progression, and I liked how naturally that occurred.
Even though I didn’t like that there was a deception in play between the hero and heroine, the way it came about and the reason it persisted were believable. Not only that, but it worked in tandem with Daisy’s discovery of a family secret to bring home a message about not putting people on pedestals. We are all fallible, capable of disappointing those we love most, and we all need to learn to extend grace to others, “not because they deserve it—but because we don’t deserve it either.”
As for the family secret, it was an engaging addition to the plot, gradually revealing the hidden truth across the first part of the novel and following Daisy’s struggle to come to terms with it and adjust her life accordingly throughout the rest of the story.
A good choice for those looking for a gentle but satisfying contemporary romance.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of this review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Previous Books in the Series ~
~ About the Author ~
Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 25 books, including “The Convenient Groom” and “A December Bride” which have been made into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 club and won awards such as The Holt Medallion Award, The Carol Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.
Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the experience of falling in love vicariously through her characters and can expect a happily-ever-after sigh as they close the pages of her books.
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 her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!
When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband will soon be facing an empty nest.