Riverbend Gap (2021)

About the Book

Book: Riverbend Gap

Author: Denise Hunter

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: October 19, 2021

She came in search of the family she’d always wanted—and found the kind of love she’d never dared to imagine.

When Katelyn Loveland’s car veered off a winding Appalachian Mountain road, she thought she was done for. That is until Cooper Robinson, local sheriff’s deputy, came to her rescue. And though Katie narrowly escaped her brush with death, she still fell. Hard.

She wasn’t the only one. But soon Cooper learns that the woman he’s more attracted to than any he’s ever met is his brother’s new girlfriend—and therefore unquestionably off limits. Yet, despite his best efforts, Cooper and Katie can’t seem to avoid running into each other. Or ignore the undeniable chemistry between them.

As they grow closer, Katie shares the secrets of her past and the real reason she moved to their small North Carolina town. She also wins over Cooper’s welcoming and bighearted family. But they don’t know that her feelings for Cooper keep growing—all while she’s dating his brother. Soon the stakes of their emotional connection become higher than either of them could have imagined. Katie stands to lose the first family she’s ever had, and a scandal could doom Cooper’s campaign for sheriff’s office. Suddenly they find themselves on the edge of another precipice—and they’re forced to make a decision that could change their lives forever.

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My Thoughts

Denise Hunter writes the BEST stories. Riverbend Gap is FANTASTIC. I loved every second with this story and I am so sad my time with these characters is over. This story is so engaging I read it well past my bedtime. It is an unputdownable book! If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of the love-triangle trope. Riverbend Gap is a love-triangle story, BUT it works so well. It’s a testament to Hunter’s masterful storytelling skills. In fact, I don’t think this story would work as well if it didn’t have the love triangle. The love-triangle in this story lends to the perfect blend of angst and tension between the protagonists, Katie and Cooper. I love how respectful Katie and Cooper work to be towards the third character in their triangle. They do everything in their power to refrain from feeling the chemistry and love towards one another in order to not hurt the feelings of someone else. This restraint, this romantic tension, is what kept me turning pages well into the night. I needed to know how Katie and Cooper would get to their happily ever after.

I loved two things about this story. Well, I loved more than two things, but for the sake of this review, I will limit myself to only two. First, I love that this story revolves around unique family blends. There is Katie who was part of a loving and nurturing foster family. Then there is Cooper who grew up in a step-family situation. What I LOVE about this is that both childhoods illustrate healthy love and respect and nurturing relationships. The stereotype that blended families and foster families are somehow less than or filled with violence has always bugged me. I come from a blended family and my step-dad was the BEST father a girl could have ever wanted. So I do take it personally when step-families are shown as being less than or ugly. In Riverbend Gap, Hunter does an excellent job of illustrating just how blessed a child can be in families that look different or are structured uniquely than what is typical.

The second aspect to this story that I loved is the discussion on blessing. There is a moment in this story where Cooper is having a man-to-man with his stepfather and Cooper tells his stepfather that he knows God blessed him in the family department. Yeah, Cooper would have loved it if his biological father never ran out on him, his brother, and his mother, BUT he recognizes that God used that bad and turned it into good because it brought Cooper’s stepfather and sister into his life. God turned a broken situation into one that could become something that produced a beautiful family. If this isn’t a blessing, I don’t know what it. Not only does this remind me of my own blessings where God brought my stepfather, stepsister, and stepbrother into my life, but it also reminded me of Genesis 50:20 — “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” There are so many “bad” moments in life that God uses to turn to good, to abundant blessings. The issue is one of perspective. Are we looking back and recognizing all of God’s blessings in our lives? Or are we choosing to only see the bad? What a great set of questions for us all to consider today.

Riverbend Gap is another home run by Denise Hunter. I loved this book so much and HIGHLY recommend it. Make sure to put this book on your To-Be-Read list and grab a copy as soon as it releases on the 19th. You will not want to miss this story!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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