Sweetbriar Cottage – Denise Hunter – Thomas Nelson – Published 13 June 2017
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 is a delightful contemporary romance, one that tugs on your heart and encourages you to take a chance and rediscover the healing power of love.
When Noah Mitchell discovers that his divorce with Josephine was never finalised, to say he is shocked might be an understatement. After the marriage ended, he gave up his job and retreated into the mountain, away from town and reminders of what happened and what he lost. Now, though, he and Josephine must reconnect if they want the divorce to be filed. Josephine is just as shaken as Noah when she learns of the news and sets out to smooth the process as much as she can, after all she feels the end of the marriage was her fault. But a sudden and dangerous storm leaves her stranded at his ranch and when they are forced to confront the wild weather, they also discover that confronting their past just might lead to healing for them both.
Sweetbriar Cottage is a standalone novel. It is written from both Noah and Josephine’s perspective during present day, but includes a number of chapter flashbacks to both the beginning of Noah and Josephine’s courtship and Josephine’s past. And that’s when this novel really digs its heels in and gets serious about the topics of faith, mistakes, and forgiveness.
In her author notes, Denise writes about her approach to and process of creating this book. There was so much love poured into this novel, and you can tell. It is written beautifully, handled with the tact, grace, and love it deserves. And I heartily agree with her, this story needed to be told. I find that sometimes, Christian novels steer around the really difficult topics. Not all, of course, but some that I have read focus on problems that are easier to discuss. Sweetbriar Cottage tackles some important and heavy themes, including infidelity, divorce, and sexual abuse. And throughout, it gives these topics space to unfold realistically, but also a good measure of grace and mercy. I also loved, that while it showed the darker nature of sex, it also alluded to the desire and joy experienced between a couple. I loved that balance.
This novel is delightful, so much fun to curl up with, but it never takes the easy or clichéd route and I was so grateful for that. The romance sparkles, tempers flare, snow falls in great heaps, and love, dare I say it, wins the day. Loved it!
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Family, marriage, divorce, relationships, storms, sexual abuse, romance, faith, adultery, forgiveness.
Published: 13 June 2017 by Thomas Nelson.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 320 pages.