Friday, June 30, 2017

"Sweetbriar Cottage" by Denise Hunter

Every time Denise Hunter releases a new book, I'm itching to get my hands on it! I was especially excited to read Sweetbriar Cottage, as it features a (very) minor character from Just a Kiss, the final novel in her Summer Harbor series. (Also—Just a Kiss just won the 2017 INSPY Award for contemporary romance/romantic suspense! Check out all the winners here.)

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

Sweetbriar Cottage features a compelling story about love lost and found, forgiveness, and restoration. I love the concept of a divorced couple learning they're still legally married and then being trapped together during a snowstorm—it's the stuff Hallmark movies are made of :-) This story is much deeper, however, as Josephine's tragic back story is slowly revealed, as is the very serious reason for their attempted divorce.

While I was very interested in the story, for some reason it didn't captivate me in the way Denise Hunter's stories normally do. (I just looked back at my previous reviews of Hunter's books, and the last time I gave one of her books less than a 4-star rating was The Accidental Bride in 2012.) I didn't feel that Noah and Josephine had the undeniable, sizzling chemistry that most of Hunter's couples have, and the book just wasn't "unputdownable." That's not to say it's a poorly-written book; in fact, I thought it had more depth and realism than many of Hunter's books. It just didn't live up to my admittedly high expectations.

That said, I have great hope that Hunter's next book, Blue Ridge Sunrise (also set in Copper Creek, Georgia), will be a return to the achingly romantic, captivating stories that are Hunter's hallmark. 3-1/2 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Hunter's Summer Harbor books Falling like Snowflakes (5 stars), The Goodbye Bride (5 stars), and Just a Kiss (5 stars); the Chapel Springs books: Barefoot Summer (5 stars), A December Bride (4.5 stars),Dancing with Fireflies (5 stars), The Wishing Season (5 stars), and Married 'til Monday (4.5 stars); Big Sky novels A Cowboy's TouchThe Accidental Bride (3-1/2 stars), and The Trouble with Cowboys (4-1/2 stars); and The Convenient Groom (5 stars).

Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys. You can learn more about Denise through her website or by visiting her FaceBook page at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. For some reason I don't tend to read Denise's stand alone books, but I do adore her series. (Or those I've read.) For this reason, I'm super excited to read her upcoming series! It sounds fabulous, just as I *knew* it would. :)

    1. I didn't even realize this was a stand alone book until I got to the end and read Denise's note! I'm trying to think if I've ever read another book of hers that wasn't part of a series, and I'm drawing a blank. So apparently I tend to only read her series, too :-)

  2. Thank you for posting this review. I just fell in love with this book cover and title, plus I've enjoyed Denise Hunter's work before. I so agree with you... this one sounds like the ideal setup for another Hallmark movie! :)

    By the way, I'm so glad to have found your site! I just became a new follower!
    Blessings, Net

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Net! I love that Hallmark is making movies based on inspy books--I know they have Robin Jones Gunn's Engaging Father Christmas coming this Christmas, and it'll be fun to see what else they do!


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