Exclusive Excerpt: Juliana Stone's The Christmas He Loved Her

Oh reader, we know, we know. It's not even Halloween, it's certainly not time for the holidays yet! But when we heard about Juliana Stone's upcoming — 4-1/2 star rated  — The Christmas He Loved Herwe thought that this just might be the book to get us in the holiday spirit. The Christmas He Loved Her stars Jake and his sister-in-law Raine. Jake's always had a thing for Raine, but she married his brother. Except now his brother's dead, and Jake's left dealing with grief and unresolved feelings. Intrigued? We've got an excerpt for you to take a peek. Don't blame us if you're humming "Jingle Bells" for the rest of the day. 

Stone set the scene for us:

The Christmas He Loved Her is a story that deals with the healing power of love and the intricacies of human emotion. When Jake lost his brother, he lost Raine, one of his best friends. His brother wanted him to look out for her but being around Raine — helping Raine — is probably the hardest thing he’s ever had to do.

This scene shows how the two of them are slowly navigating their complicated relationship. Jake is finally home in Crystal Lake and he’s brought a friend with him — a female friend — and Raine doesn’t like it.

And now for the excerpt...

“Edwards, would it be too much to ask for you to drive a little slower?” 

Jake rounded a sharp curve on Lakeshore Road and glanced toward the passenger side of his jeep. “Thought you were passed out.”

Raine struggled into a seating position and shot a dark look his way. “I wasn’t passed out.”

“No,” he countered. “The snores told me you were wide awake.”

“I don’t snore.”  She muttered and her eyes narrowed slightly, before she glanced over her shoulder. “Where’s Gibson?” She exhaled loudly and then collapsed back onto the seat.

“I am not,” she hiccupped and swore. “Drunk.”

“Keep telling yourself that sweet cheeks, but from what I saw, you were guzzling merlot like it was grape juice.”

He knew how much she hated the nick name but couldn’t stop himself. Earlier she’d pulled away from him as if he had leprosy and the sting of that one action had pretty much ruined his night. 

“Whatever,” she muttered.

Jake manoeuvred the jeep up her driveway until he stopped a few feet from her front door. He cut the engine and stared up at the house, his gut churning with an anger that had burned inside for hours.  It was irrational, this anger, and one he didn’t want to analyze too closely. But it was there nonetheless. Christ, he’d been home a little over twenty-four hours and nothing had changed.

She still got under his skin. Still made him ache and burn. But then, had he really expected it to go away? 

His jaw clenched. “We’re here.”

“I can see that.”

His brow furled even more.  He turned to Raine, his gaze rolling over her slight form. She was pressed against the door, her head lowered, her mad mess of dark curls damp against her neck. She’d refused her coat back at his parent s— naturally — because contrary to what bullshit her brain was feeding her, she was piss drunk. 

Her dress rode up her thighs, leaving way too much leg on display and he swallowed thickly as he looked away from the dark crevice between them. Her feet were bare, the insanely high heels she’d worn, on the floor where she’d slipped them off.

Vulnerability rolled off her in waves and his chest tightened painfully. What the hell was he going to do about her? 

He’d left Crystal Lake because he knew he couldn’t be around Raine without going crazy. The woman had pushed every button he owned for as long as he could remember.  And though it killed him, he’d convinced himself that Jesse’s dying wish didn’t make sense. Raine didn’t need him. She’d always been a fire cracker who travelled her own road and had no problem being on her own. Christ, most of her marriage had been solo and last year he’d told himself she’d be fine without him hanging around.

And yet … she wasn’t fine. Jesse had been right. Raine was a mess.

Read The Full Excerpt >>

So what do you think? Is it suddenly feeling like the most wonderful time of the year? The Christmas He Loved Her is on sale online and in stores now. And for more love stories — from any time of year — be sure to visit our Everything Romance page.