Title: A Kindled Winter
Author: Rachel L. Demeter
Publisher: Black Lyon Publishing, LLC
Release Date: November 1, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Romance
ARC Received From: Rachel L. Demeter
Reviewed For: Rachel L. Demeter and Between The Sheets Promotions
“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” — Dale Evans
A week before Christmas, Jeseca Reed sets off for Blue River, Oregon—her childhood home and a vault of tender memories. However, fate takes an unexpected turn when she’s left stranded in the mountains’ vast, untamed wilderness. Desperate and alone, she seeks shelter at a cottage and finds herself in the arms of a mysterious stranger.
Dr. David Drake was once a renowned cardiovascular surgeon. But a devastating tragedy has left him scarred both inside and out, unable to use his hands to operate again. For the past five years, his Blue River cottage has been his sole escape—a safe haven where he can shut out the world, bury himself in his grief, and reunite with his son’s memory.
Together they are summer and winter. Fire and ice. And yet a poignant connection forms between them. Jeseca awakens David and thaws his heart with a romance hot enough to melt snow. But before David and Jeseca can fully embrace each other, they must wade through darkness and confront the ghosts of their pasts…
Equal parts steamy and heartfelt, A Kindled Winter brings the spirit of the holidays to life with a passionate story of second chances and healing love.
Despite David's thoughts about him being different from Jeseca, they are not different at all. They hurt from events they could not control. They are haunted by memories that have them believing they are at fault. They are isolated because they do not know how to heal. In truth, their healing couldn't happen until they confronted their pasts, whether that be by going to where the memories of that person are strongest or talking about it.
David's came from talking about it. That alone took time. The night he lost his son to a fire is forever engrained in his memory and his body. His scars are constant reminders of his "failure" and his losses. Yes, he lost more than his son that night. He lost his ability to be the sure-handed surgeon he once was. He lost the son he lived for. He lost his wife to the bitterness, anger, and resentment that consumed her along with cancer. He lived in isolation because the memories of all he'd lost was too much to bear. Sharing his home with Jeseca, a woman who sparked something inside of him, made him more keenly aware of all he'd lost and all he could he have again.
Jeseca's loss was just as devastating. Her twin was diagnosed as bipolar and wound up in a psych ward where, sadly, she ultimately died. Not from abuse but from self-harm. She refused to eat or drink. She tore the IV from her arm. She screamed she hated Jeseca and their mother. Those words and memories of her sister's behavior ate at Jeseca. They were twins and now she lived with her sister's voice echoing in her mind telling her how much she hated her. Being with David, she knew she found someone like herself. The haunted look in his eyes mirrored her own. The inability to move forward kept him rooted in the past just like her. Yet his presence, his touch, his laugh, his smile filled her with warmth and a desire for a future so long as he was in it.
A good chunk of this story is narrative, a lot of which is spent dwelling in either David or Jeseca's memories and emotions. It was kinda nice to spend that much time in their heads. Given how they were thrown together so unexpectedly and initially didn't talk too much, head time was perfect. But it was also devastating to see how their losses and the aftermath of those losses up close and personal.
For me, this story wasn't so much about the attraction between them but the healing they desperately needed. That's not to say the romance didn't matter but I was glad it played second-fiddle to what mattered most. Yes, they kissed and had sex but the attraction was not what mattered most to me. I wanted and needed them to see they did everything they could to save those they loved and that they weren't to blame for what happened. I needed their healing to happen because I knew the future would never be fulfilling if they didn't find closure first.
I hope this story touches someone out there like it did me. Attraction between broken souls is a lovely thing, but it is elevated into an amazing and overwhelming sight to behold when healing happens too.
Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of eleven years. She enjoys writing poignant romances that challenge the reader's emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.
Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel's passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul.
Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.
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