July 26, 2017

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter {Book Review}

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter ~ A review
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As many of you know by now I am not a huge fan of contemporary fiction, but there are a few authors that I will make an exception for. One of those authors is Denise Hunter. I have read most of what she has written for the Christian Fiction genre and just have fallen in love with her characters. When her latest book Sweetbriar Cottage was recently released, I added it to my list of "must reads" and was thankful to be able to review it for The Fiction Guild. I hoped that it would be at the same level as all the other books that I have loved so well by the author. 

About Sweetbriar Cottage

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter takes us to the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia. It is here we meet Noah and Josephine Mitchell. Noah and Josephine were married after a whirlwind romance, but their marriage fell apart soon after they said "I Do" and they quickly got a divorce. The book picks up 18 months after the divorce with Noah discovering through a notice from the IRS that he might still be married. After investigation by his attorney, it quickly becomes apparent that the divorce papers had never been signed by a judge and he's really been married for these last 18 months! Determined to make sure that he can be rid of the former love of his life and woman who broke his heart, he confronts Josephine about it. 

Josephine is just as shocked as he is and not any happier. Sure that the failed marriage and botched divorce was her fault even though her own heart was shattered as well, she agrees to hurry through getting it all taken care of. But God has other plans for this couple...because when she delivers the final paperwork up at his remote horse ranch, the two of them become stranded in Noah's cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with each other was sure to test their endurance as Noah wrestles with resentment and yet an unmistakable pull to his wife who he finds still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he's known. But Josephine has a tragic past that she still has never shared with Noah that might finally reveal the mystery behind their failed marriage--and it will finally be shared during the time they are together. And once out in the open may lead to the healing they both so desperately need and can only get through God as they are forced to examine the remnants of love they still have for each other. 

My Thoughts

The story is very deep. Not only exploring what it means to have unconditional love, but it really dives into how past experiences shape people's reactions to what they experience every day. Josephine has a HORRIBLE and very tragic past which has ultimately led her to being the woman she is today---and the reason why she acts the way she does around men. The saddest part of this is that her story rings true for too many other woman I'm afraid in this day and age. Her story is going to be many other women's story. And that's why her story is so painful. 

Noah battles what so many men and women battle. How do you move on after your life was shattered? How do you get past the resentment and bitterness? How do you open up and allow yourself to love again--after you were hurt so badly before? The way he grows in this book and examines his relationship with Josephine is beautiful. 

The book jumps back and forth between present day, 3 1/2 years earlier when Noah and Josephine first met, and then the time right before their divorce. It's done as if they are remembering things. The book also goes back and forth between Josephine and Noah's point of view. but it's not so jumpy you can't follow it. 

I feel like the characters are very true-to-life and that other couples could relate to Noah and Josephine. Like most of Denise Hunter's books, the characters are real because they have BAGGAGE. Whether emotional or physical. This is what makes them real. This is what I love about a good book. No fluffy characters. 

Really my one complaint is about the cover. 90% of the book takes place during a HORRIBLE snowstorm at the cottage. Yet the cover shows a cottage in what looks like spring or summer. No snow. I think it would have been much more accurate to have the cottage surrounded by snow since the bulk of the story is in snow--and then have the hanging lights from the tree. The hanging lights are a nod to couple places in the story relating to Josephine I'm sure. 

Sweetbriar Cottage earns 4★
All in all, I give Sweetbriar Cottage 4 stars. It was a good story and kept me interested all the way through--but I found myself just scanning the dialogue pages at times. I also wasn't moved emotionally in the story like I have been in other books and that's a key element in higher stars from me. Not to mention the cover not matching the story. I would absolutely recommend this book to my friends!

Sweetbriar Cottage
by Denise Hunter
I highly recommend you check out some of the other books written by the author if you want to find some good contemporary fiction!

I just learned that this book is a stand alone that actually sort of kicks off a new series. The series will be set in the same area--Blue Ridge Mountains. I look forward to snagging the first book Blue Ridge Sunrise which is due out November 2017!

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