Review: Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

Series: Summer Harbor #3

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Format: Kindle

Source: NetGalley

Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon


Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are ruined when his life is drastically changed in Afghanistan.

Watching the love of his life falling for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of two comrades and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances he’s adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. He has nightmares and mood swings, and his unwavering independence keeps him from accepting help from anyone, including her. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on with the two in such close proximity, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into unchartered territory. Why is she suddenly noticing the corded muscles on his arms or the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?
My Thoughts

Riley Callahan has returned home to Summer Harbor, Maine. But the Marine endured a lot in Afghanistan, including a battle that cost him his leg. Thoughts of finally professing his love to long time best friend Paige have gone out the window.

Paige has never known that Riley felt anything more than friendship. He's her best friend - there for her when her father died, there for her when she dated his brother and the relationship ended. Having him home again is the answer to a prayer and she'll do anything to help him heal and readjust. But Paige's feelings for Riley have changed and she's thinking about him as a lot more than just a friend. 

I enjoyed both Riley and Paige and their story. The best friends to more story is hardly new, but it's one that I almost always enjoy. I will say that their refusal to acknowledge or share their feelings felt overly drawn out and became frustrating, as did Riley's insistence that with his injury he was no longer good enough for Paige. I would have preferred to have seen more of them actually together instead of all the build-up.

Just a Kiss is classified as Christian fiction, something I wasn't aware of when I requested the book. While that does mean this was a very clean, wholesome love story, with Christian content (that was not heavy handed), it was refreshing in a way. Readers that like their romance on the sweeter, cleaner side (nothing beyond a few kisses) will definitely appreciate this one.

Just is Kiss is a friends-to-more contemporary romance and, despite being the third in a series, can easily be read as a stand alone.

3/5 Stars

Note: This title was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion of the book or the content of this review.


  1. Great review! I too have been surprised sometimes by a Christian romance but some of them are really good. Glad this worked for you in its way and I love the Maine setting!

    1. Thanks Eva! Yeah, I should have looked closer before requesting it, but there was nothing about it in the Netgalley description. Oh well, it was still a really nice contemporary, just more of the sweet/clean side than I'm used to. :)

  2. I can see where the relationship development past friends being so slow could get irritating but I'm happy that the story was pretty good despite that and the surprise of it being a Christian romance. Nice review, Tanya!

    1. Thanks Brandee. Yeah, I wish NetGalley had stated it was Christian fic instead of just contemporary romance but thankfully it wasn't heavy handed and I just went with it. And I really did like the characters and story so all ended well. :)

  3. Sounds like a sweet story, Tanya! Novels with a religious undertone do tend to be "clean" usually, but they don't normally bother me- and this one looks good alright! Great review as always :))

    Ruzaika @ The Regal Critiques

    1. It really was a sweet story, Ruzaika! :) I enjoyed the characters and their story.

  4. This sounds good! Although I wasn't expecting to see that it was considered Christian fiction! I should start getting into that genre more, especially because I love God! I just think the idea of Christian romance is great because it's a support system and something we discuss a lot in church. Great review Tanya!
    P.S. I agree on the romance buildup. Personally, I find in books where the buildup is so short and the time they spend together is the very end of the book, I tend to enjoy a tad less. I like watching the dynamics of the relationship more! Personal preference I suppose!
    Emily @

    1. I think you would probably like this one a lot, Emily! (I wish I could loan it to you but I don't see a way to do that with Doc files, only regular Kindle books.) The Christian element is woven in the book well and it focuses of faith and prayer... I really think you would like it.

      When it comes to romantic relationships, I guess I like it somewhere in the middle. :) I'm not usually a fan of insta-love/insta-lust, but sometimes the build-up can always be so slow that it becomes frustrating.

      I think there are a lot of options out there in the Christian romance sub-genre. I don't know enough about it to make any recommendations but maybe it's something worth looking in to. :)