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Star Star Star Star Star
Sweetwater Gap
by Denise Hunter
Romance - Christian
320 Pages
Reviewed on 03/23/2009

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Book Review
A young woman returns to her roots to help her sister and brother-in-law in a time of need. While there, she resists falling in love with the hired help, because she thinks she is dying and because of things that haunt her from the past. She feels responsible for the death of a young friend years ago. Through the patience, understanding, and prayers of her family and co-worker, she finally finds the peace she needs to get her life back. She discovers her illness is treatable and allows herself to fall in love.

Sweetwater gap is a book that grabs the reader’s attention and holds it to the end. This inspiring tale is sure to please fans of Christian fiction. The characters are endearing. The lessons to be learned from this story are excellent.

 

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Michelle Sutton
What amazed me most about this novel was the author's ability to take an utterly selfish and self-condemning act and make the reader totally see their own heart through the story. The character was sympathetic despite what she was doing. NOT an easy task. Ms. Hunter executed that perfectly. The story slowly revealed the conflict and at the same time revealed a little bit more and a little bit more of her heart, thus making for perfect characterization. And the slowly developing trust in their romantic relationship was so believeable and gratifying it will make you want to sigh as the hero and heroine take baby steps toward each other and risk their hearts. He had valid reasons for not trusting women, but it didn't feel contrived like it does in some romances. His issues seemed totally valid, as did hers.

In short, Sweetwater Gap was powerful, emotionally evocative, and the type of story that will not only touch your heart, but have you wanting to talk to your friends about the story because it was so incredibly well done. This is a book that I could even *gasp* read twice, and still enjoy every page. Did I mention that Denise Hunter writes amazing kissing scenes? They are always SO heart-engaging that they sweep me away EVERY time. Highly recommended.

 

Booklover1983
I loved this book. Definitely a keeper. It pulled me in and I did not want to put it down. Josie Mitchell returns home to the family Apple Orchard to help while her sister is pregnant with twins. Grady, the new manager, and Josie are at odds before they even really meet. She has not been home in six years even when her father died. What would make a girl like that? We find out as the novel progresses naturally. It flows very well and the characters are well developed. And the plot is touching and tugs at my heart. I do not want to give away too many details. I liked how it unfolded as I read. Over all a really sweet story with a spiritual thread that is not overwhelming but comes through great. The author does a good job making the reader feel at home in the Apple Orchard. I highly recommend this book! :)

 

Sunny
Sweetwater Gap is not just a sweet romantic story, it's about living with pain and guilt from the past and how it can ruin the future if allowed. Josie left her home and the orchard she loved for reasons only she knew. Everyone figured she was just flighty and undependable and she's content to let them think that because the truth was much worse.

When her brother-in-law calls to ask her to come back to help with the harvest she decides that would be a good time to convince her sister to sell the orchard. Her plan was to help with the harvest, sell the orchard and go back to her life hundreds of miles away. That was the plan. God tends to laugh at our plans sometimes, though. It doesn't take long for everything to start unraveling because of something she hadn't expected. Rather, someone. Grady. She couldn't let him mess things up and she is determined to stay the course no matter what.

This was a wonderful story and I had a hard time putting it down. I was drawn in from the start and just as my curiosity was abated something else got it going again. I felt for Josie and the pain she was living with because of what happened so many years ago and the rejection from her father. All the characters were easy to connect with and I was right there with them in the story.

It is a great read especially for anyone who has lived with pain in their life that keeps pulling them down and won't let them go. Sweetwater Gap shows us that when life feels so empty and we feel so unloved there is nothing we can do that would make God stop loving us. We're our own worst enemy sometimes when we refuse to reach out for help when we need it and just keep holding on to the pain. No one has to go through life alone and God wants us to lean on him and those who love us when we're hurting.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a "heavy" read. Denise does a fantastic job of showing us Josie's pain without weighing us down. I loved the romantic side of the story and of course I was cheering for them (and laughing at them). I got so tickled when he would call her a "sassy thing." The romantic scenes were written quite descriptively to appease the romantic in all of us but it was also done very tastefully, which I appreciated.

 

Kathy M. Christensen
Wow! Denise Hunter's 'Sweetwater Gap' is a great book, and such an easy read. Denise draws you into the story and makes it seem like you are there in the story. I ended up reading half the book in one day, and didn't want to put it down. I only cried in 3 or 4 places, and I kept saying, "just tell him already!" A great book for anyone.

 

Mommy2MyDogs
I LOVE everything Denise Hunter writes. I like the clean romance novels, and she always writes so tastefully.

 

Janna R. Ryan
I expected this book to be good. I've read some of Denise Hunter's book and have really enjoyed her style and story lines. I was amazed at how much I really loved this book. Simple enough premise - two sisters grow up, one leaves home never to return because of past memories and the other stays to live her life there. Through a series of events the prodigal needs to return and help out. She does so reluctantly and then has to face her past as well as her future and see how God is going to work everything out... so if the concept is that simple then why did I absolutely love this book so much? Denise's writing style and her characters and her spiritual insight all come together in this book to make it a keeper. Whenever you have the chance to get one of Denise's books - do yourself a favor and pick it up.

 

Lori Kasbeer
Josie has spent her life running away from Shelbyville. Even her father's funeral could not bring Josie back home to face the memories she was running away from. It took a call from Nate, her brother in law, informing her that Josie's sister Laurel was pregnant with twins and he needed help with the family apple orchard. If the apples were not harvested, Nate and Laurel could lose everything.

Josie's love for her sister brought her back home to Shelbyville and back to the place she had been running from. Josie knew everyone in small town Shelbyville, but when she returned she was introduced to handsomely rugged Grady, the orchard manager.

Grady was well liked and respected around Shelbyville, but he was upset when Josie had been called in to help. After all, he viewed Josie as a person who ran away from her family. As the harvest season arrives and Laurel's pregnancy progresses, so does the relationship Josie and Grady are trying to avoid.

Grady discovers Josie is struggling with an illness that she has kept hidden from her family. While Josie fights to ignore her symptoms, which she believes she rightly deserves, Grady ends up fighting for Josie life.

Denise Hunter does a beautiful job of showing God's unconditional love, even when we turn away from Him. Sweetwater Gap captured me by the first page and had me soaking in the beautiful scent of apple orchards and small town life.

 

Anne
If you enjoy Karen Kingsbury's books, then you will like this book. It is very similar and written in the same style. It is an enjoyable afternoon read (as another reviewer described it). I enjoyed Josie's character in this book. As opposed to a lot of Christian fiction that can get really mushy, this book wasn't. I was glad for that. The book told an interesting story and was enjoyable to the end!

 

Angie Vik
I enjoyed reading Hunter's last five books so eagerly anticipated diving into her newest book. I liked Sweetwater Gap, though not as well as her novel, Surrender Bay, which is one of my all-time Christian Fiction favorites.

As the story unfolds, Josie crumbles under her load of guilt and searches for answers. She has flawed thinking and is a wanderer who finally finds her way home. Home is where she was hurt and home is where she'll be healed.

Sweetwater Gap, Surrender Bay, and A Convenient Groom are written on two levels. The story stands on it own, yet also has another layer. Surrender Bay and A Convenient Groom are spiritual allegories. Sweetwater Gap also has another layer, but the illustration isn't as strong as in the other two books.

Sweetwater Gap's redemptive thread is move obvious than in Surrender Bay which is good. A person could read Surrender Bay and never see the beautiful rich second layer. Hunter writes about salvation in a natural, unpreachy way.

The first few chapters were a bit stiff in places, but once the story got going, the rest flowed well.Though Sweetwater Gap isn't as good as Surrender Bay, it does a great job of showing man's need of a savior, and the healing and peace that only comes from God.

 

Carrie A. Turansky
This is a great story that pulls you in from the first page and doesn't let you go until you close the book at the end! Denise Hunter is a wonderful storyteller. I have enjoyed several of her books, and this one tops them all.

Josie Mitchell wishes she could go back and change choices she made in her past, but life doesn't give do-overs. When she returns to her family-owned apple orchard to help her pregnant sister through one more harvest, she much face these painful issues and decide if there is a future worth living for. Grady Mackenzie is a hero that lives up to the name in so many ways. The secondary characters are enjoyable and the setting is well done. The faith elements are well-woven in and totally believable

A must read!
       
 
 
 
 
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