Sweetbriar Cottage

24105713When 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?

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.**

5 StarAll I can say after finishing this book is, “WOW!” Sweetbriar Cottage is a powerhouse of a novel–both in story and in the writing itself.

This is one of those books that make me wonder why I do not make more of a point to read novels by Denise Hunter. It was a reminder of how much I have loved everything else I have read by her but somehow her books keep slipping by me and I think it is time to remedy that.

The premise of this book is such that is forces two characters who seemingly want nothing to do with one another to be in close proximity. I for one love these types of stories. They are generally filled with tension and sparks. The characters end up being great foils to one another and the stories are entertaining. This turned out to be true in this novel. Add to that a setting that almost becomes a character in and of itself, and you get a page-turner. I struggled to put this book down and thankfully, I made my way through it quickly (otherwise not much was going to get done).

One other thing about this book that made it stand out to me was the powerful themes. On the surface level, there are obvious themes of forgiveness, faith and prayer. But, diving in a bit deeper, I think this book offers up a representation of what unconditional love looks like and how Christ offers that to us. The elements of faith in this book come across so naturally and never turn preachy.

But, due to the content of this particular novel, I do want to leave a word of caution and hopefully without spoiling any of the book. I would consider this book in more of the PG-13 realm. One of the main characters has a very traumatic thing that happened to her while she was young. Since the story is told between the present day and flashbacks, we see some of the things that happened to her. Everything is handled tastefully and respectfully, but the content itself may be a trigger for some readers while other readers may be out of their comfort zone.

Overall, if you are a reader that the above comments don’t apply to, this is a book that I can highly recommend. At the end of the book, I was blown away by the messages within the pages, loved getting to know these characters, and just all around enjoyed Sweetbriar Cottage.

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