Rating: 4 Stars
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Review: Jade McKinley is a free spirit held captive by heartbreak. Denise Hunter first introduces readers to Jade in "Barefoot Summer," when her sudden departure from Chapel Springs stirs questions among her family and readers. "Dancing with Fireflies" chronicles her return home with more scars and secrets than when she left. As Jade puts into motion a plan to find a husband in name only, she is continuously drawn to her childhood friend, Daniel Dawson. Jade's circumstances as an unemployed, emotionally scarred, pregnant single woman, set the stage for potentially heavy reading, but Hunter keeps the overall plot light with easy conflict resolution.
The details surrounding Jade's pregnancy are revealed in the first chapters, but remain a secret from the McKinley family even longer than Jade's hidden pregnancy. There is a gap between the incident leading to Jade's pregnancy and her return home. During that time, Jade has formulated a plan for her and her unborn child and some of the emotional rawness is lost. We see Jade as resolved to her recent past and her future, with only the occasional glimpse of pain. Her acceptance almost seems too easy; but at the same time, I am glad that she didn't dwell on her circumstances.
Jade and Daniel are both likable characters who engage different emotional responses. Jade captures my sympathy and makes me long for her happy ending. Daniel's acceptance of Jade's pregnancy and his unwavering support of her and the unborn child called to mind a modern-day version of Ray Singleton from "The Magic of Ordinary Days." It is easy to respect Daniel for his unfailing devotion and self-restraint when Jade seems too emotionally battered to accept his declaration of love. As Jade's attraction to Daniel grows, physical interactions between them progress from the typical kiss to scenes that are too steamy for my preference. Hunter does not allow the characters to cross the lines of morality, but they definitely step close to the border. One scene in particular surprises me with the detailed description of a kiss between Jade and Daniel. It is one that the plot can do without even though it ultimately conveys a lesson in resisting temptation.
"Dancing with Fireflies" is another solid romance from Denise Hunter. It is my favorite of the two Chapel Spring romances so far. It is always enjoyable to see characters from a previous novel in a series reappear as secondary characters in future novels. I will especially look forward to seeing Jade, Daniel, and their children in the next Chapel Springs Romance.
I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Summary from Thomas Nelson: 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.