book, Book Review

Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

About the Book:Book - Dancing with Fireflies
Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher ARC
Publication Date: 2014
Find the Review elsewhere:
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Series: Chapel Springs – book 2
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Romance, Christian
Rating: 4 out of 5

In an effort to thoroughly discuss this novel, I will be revealing a plot twist that isn’t discussed in the plot summary though this plot is revealed in the first chapter.

Review: Controversial or sensitive subjects are hard to get right in any forum – particularly so in written form since most often no matter how hard a writer strives, it’s always a challenge to get across the meaning of a topic without benefit of tonal or face-to-face expression. Denise Hunter has tackled what is likely to be a tough subject and not contrasting to what fans have come to expect of her, she’s handled it with grace. This novel tells the story of McKinley sister, Jade whose free-spirit led her to leave behind her cozy home of Chapel Springs Indiana and head to Chicago where she hoped her music career would be jump-started. Instead, she returns home broken with secrets, no money and a baby on the way. Afraid of what her family will think, Jade’s subconscious leads her to first see her friend Daniel Dawson who was more “adopted” brother than mere friend to the McKinley family and the man who strangely has always been the kind of constant in Jade’s life she doesn’t fully understand. When their pasts collide, both Jade and Daniel will have to confront the secrets they aren’t sharing before either of them can find their future.

Teasers didn’t reveal what had gone on in city Jade’s life and to find her life about to be changed as a mother, I expected, it would stem from a mistake on Jade’s part, the kind that she made when she’d fallen away from Christ as so many before had done. Little did I realize the child would be as a result of an emotional story that will tug on your heartstrings. None of the summaries I read revealed that Jade’s pregnancy was as the result of a drugged rape. Such a subject is probably going to be a sensitive one for some readers. For the most part, this novel was gorgeously wonderful. I’d been anticipating Jade’s story for a while now and can say I’m thrilled to have finally been able to read it. Hunter never seems to take for granted the feelings of Daniel or Jade and in fact, it’s those feelings that get the pair of them in the most trouble. Jade’s emotional heartbreak isn’t as somber or emotionally impressing as one would assume such an experience might inspire however what fallout there is, was dealt with very well and I never doubted Jade felt, to put it mildly, confusion and in some moments, she’s full of blame over what happened. Daniel fell easily back into his role of comforter, worrier and friend to Jade which was both sweet and frustrating (for us readers), and this leads to the one thing that I didn’t like. The ARC text puts too much emphasis on the physical love between these two – this is a bit of a stretch simply for the fact of the subject (though if you consider Daniel and Jade’s past, it’s entirely plausible). I don’t mind “passion” yet when I feel like the entire relationship is buffed up to be entirely physical, I’m not going to feel drawn to rooting beyond the conciliatory emotion of “knowing” the pair belong together even understanding the differential between what happened to Jade and what her relationship is with Daniel – which is present and important to the story.

That being said, make no mistake, Jade’s story is sweet in an emotional sort of way and naturally, this reader is as anxious as ever to revisit Chapel Springs in whatever is to come next… whether it’s about PJ or Ryan, I know Denise Hunter will write a beautiful, inspirational novel of the best kind.

Synopsis: Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt.” Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined. – Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher, Thomas Nelson for providing a complimentary ARC copy of this book for reviewing purposes.


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