This is the third and final novel in the Summer Harbor trilogy, and features one of my favourite romance tropes: friends to lovers (although, as is proper for Christian romance, it’s actually friends to more-than-friends). It’s the story of Riley, who has recently returned from service in the Middle East, service which has left him with issues.
But there were also some more awkward parts, like the implication that oysters weren’t shellfish (when the speaker is a lobsterman and therefore should know better, and he’s talking to someone who is allergic to shellfish). Or the suggestion that amputees can do anything these days—look at "that Olympic runner". As I write this (June 2016), the Olympic runner in question is awaiting sentencing on a murder charge after shooting his girlfriend four times, thinking she was an intruder.
I doubt this is the kind of “anything” the author was referring to—this is meant to be a romance novel, not a tragedy. As an aside, my husband often feels I’m too nit-picky in my criticisms of novels, but even he agreed this reference was in poor taste—and something that even the most basic of internet searches should have picked up on. A reference to the Paralympics or Invictus Games would have been more timely and appropriate. Boom.
But what of the novel? Well, it was good but the ending was more cliché that I’d have liked, the Christian content was sporadic (I get that Riley may well have been having a crisis of faith due to his injury, but he actually made no reference to having any faith at all, ever). There were a couple of references to him having PTSD which didn’t entirely fit but came across as a half-fledged idea, never fully executed. I liked seeing more of the relationship between Miss Trudy and Sheriff Colton, and that would have been a highlight if the author hadn’t effectively given away the ending in her introductory Author Note.
After the first two books in the series, I was genuinely expecting Just a Kiss to be a five-star read for me. But as you will have seen, there were too many not-quite-right aspects for my taste. It was good, but not great and not as good as I hoped it would be. Riley’s injury gave Hunter a great opportunity to delve into the physical and mental health issues facing returned servicemen and women, and it didn’t deliver. A solid read, but not something I'll re-read.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.