Jade always felt out of place growing up in Chapel Springs, and when she left nursing a broken heart, she didn’t plan on giving the place a backward glance. Now, pregnant, broke and alone, she has no choice but to return.
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 Mayor, Daniel Dawson, who she’d always viewed more as a big brother. Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.
I reviewed Denise Hunter’s A December Bride (A Year of Weddings Novella) and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I jumped at the chance to get my paws on an ARC of Dancing with Fireflies (A Chapel Springs Romance), her latest novel which is published today. A prologue has the story diving straight into the action, recounting a particularly traumatic event in Jade’s past. The event is somewhat glossed over, which felt a little strange. It is such a major event, that it didn’t seem right for it to be skated over quite so quickly. That being said, as it is a distressing event, I didn’t particularly want it drawn out in full detail either, so, odd though it felt, perhaps it was the correct decision. This same event is touched upon at a few later points in the novel, but almost in passing, with more focus given to a different tragedy in Jade’s past. Given that both events changed her life quite dramatically, this just didn’t seem natural.
After the tumultuous beginning in the prologue, the story felt quite slow-paced, and I was a good 1/3 of the way through before I felt drawn into the story. Dancing with Fireflies is the second in the Chapel Springs romance series, and whilst I have not read the first, some of the same characters were present in A December Bride, and it was pleasant to be amongst familiar characters. I had one or two niggly problems with the formatting: when text messages were related, it was not very clear who had sent which, although this may be due to having an advance copy.
I didn’t quite warm to the characters as much as I have previously with this author, but this is made up for by the strong morals behind the story: dealing with pressure within the family, strength in the face of trauma, being true to oneself, faith, and reaping the consequences of other’s sins. On the whole, I liked the novel and it is a good choice for a reading group, and includes a list of questions for a group to consider at the end of the novel.