Show of Honor
A Juniper Ridge Holiday Novella
by Tawna Fenske
I always hoped I’d see her again after she rocked my world last Christmas. I never thought she’d have my baby in her arms.
I also didn’t see myself dressed as a deranged bear the first time I held my daughter, or even that I’d have a daughter. Navy SEAL life isn’t great for fatherhood, but seeing Jessie with Joy hits me like a happy holiday thunderbolt.
Jessie’s not sure she trusts me, and who can blame her? Maybe if we’d swapped more than ten words before falling into bed that snowy night, we wouldn’t be strangers. But I can’t regret our fling, just like I can’t ditch a military career I’ve spent my whole life wanting.
But maybe there’s something I want more. Jessie. A bond with our baby and heaps of happy, mixed-up holiday memories we’re making as we bond over giftwrap gaffes, sexy dreidel games, and kisses hot enough to melt mistletoe.
I just need to prove we belong together, preferably before one of us hops a flight and gets gone for good.
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Joe was raised by his two moms, living all over the world doing environmental work. It was definitely an unusual childhood but it helped give him a more open view of things. He’s kind, caring, and confident, supportive of others and understanding of their needs. This helps him when he comes face to face with Jessie again.
Jessie’s upbringing also has had an impact on her life. She’s independent and strong (maybe a bit too much sometimes), dedicating her life to making the world a better place. Sidelined by an unexpected pregnancy, she occasionally flounders just a bit but she’s handled the change in her plans well. And her grit helps out when introducing Joe to his daughter. It’s not easy but he quickly proves himself to be a stand-up guy, showing the right amount of patience & concern for her feelings and she finds his enthusiasm for fatherhood hard to resist (I did too!).
I really enjoyed Joe and Jessie’s story. It’s short and sweet but I was pleased with how everything worked out for them. Knowing how their relationship started, there was the expected amount of awkwardness but Fenske mixes it with a good amount of humor and fun. She also throws in enough emotions to make the insta-love connection believable and a good amount of heat to show why they hooked up in the first place. Rounding it out are all the feels of Joe falling for his daughter and Jessie learning to let him, all of which lead to a feel-good ending perfect for a holiday read.
(This is the first in this series that I’ve read and while there were a lot of characters from the rest of the series it can be read as a standalone.)