This Heart of Mine (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance

After serving 17 years in prison for murder, all Phoenix wants is to have a relationship with the son she hasn’t seen since he was born. With that hope she returns to Whiskey Creek, the scene of the crime where the parents of the victim and her ex-boyfriend and father of her child still live. She knows there is no happy ending for someone like her –– all she wants is to be left alone, to get her life together and maybe spend a little time with her son.

When Phoenix was tried for murder, Riley was a witness for the prosecution. While she sat in the dock he hammered the nails in that left nobody in any doubt of her guilt. Now she is out and what he has been avoiding can’t be avoided any more. But it’s not long before he starts to wonder if she is the vicious murderer the whole town thinks she is.

This Heart of Mine is great contemporary romance. The Whiskey Creek series has been a little up and down for me –– some that have been mind blowingly good, others not so much. This is definitely one of the shining lights and I think it can take the title of my favorite in the series. I’d actually walked away from the series (very few series’ hold my attention for more than three or four books) but a good friend who doesn’t really like contemporary romance rated this one high and on her recommendation I picked it up.  It was worth it.

It will also work as a stand alone so no need to read the other seven just to read this.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.44.24 pmOrange, Red. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

Come Home to Me (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance

On the night her mother died, Presley went looking for comfort in the arms of her lover Aaron. But she never meant as much to him as he did to her and he coldly rejected her. Broken hearted she left Whiskey Creek taking with her the secret that she was carrying his baby. 

Two years have passed and Presley has got her life back on track and returned to Whiskey Creek. Dirt poor but determined to make a better life for herself and her son she sinks everything she has into a small business teaching yoga and offering therapuetic massage. But she wasn’t expecting to be running into Aaron. 

With everything on the line she pulls out all the stops to keep Aaron from learning the truth about their child. 

Aaron has carried the guilt over how he treated Presley for two years. He’s determined to make things right before he leaves town and gets on with his life, but every time he looks into her eyes he sees the hurt he caused her two years before. 

As he gets to know Presley again, he begins to see things he missed the first time around, but Presley isn’t willing to put her heart on the line again and for every small step forward he makes she puts up more walls to keep him out. 

Brenda Novak is a master of romantic suspense –– her Bullet Proof series had me a nervous wreck. I wouldn’t describe her contemporary romances as masterful but she is competent and getting better with each new book. Come Home to me is far and away the most satisfying book I’ve read in this series to date. I genuinely liked Presley and Aaron and the story worked on every level. 

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.25.29 pmYellow / Orange / Red –– What it means.

Many thanks to Harelquin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Take me Home for Christmas (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance

After her violent and abusive husband defrauds the townsfolk of Whiskey Creek, Sophia DeBussi is left destitute and hiding out in her now empty house.  Despised by most of her neighbors, she has few options and nobody she can turn to.

Ted Dixon was betrayed by Sophia many years earlier. While he was away at college, she stepped out on him, became pregnant and married the boy who would become her abuser.  He more than anyone has a right to resent Sophia but when he sees how she is being treated he reluctantly agrees to offer her a job as his cook and housekeeper.

Sophia loves Ted, she always has, but she accepts that any chance she had with him disappeared years earlier. Now with her daughter being bullied at school, someone making threats against her, and those in authority unwilling to intervene, she just wants to make enough money to flee Whiskey Creek with her daughter and start over.

Take me Home for Christmas is very good Contemporary Romance about a woman who has been beaten down so often that she has started to believe what her abuser and his parents said about her. As she works for Ted she slowly learns to value herself again and finds hope for a second chance.

Loved this book. 5 Stars.

Many thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Home to Whiskey Creek (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance (with a dash of Suspense)

After one traumatic night, a night when she was gang-raped by a group of young men from the school’s baseball team, Adelaide left Whiskey Creek and the grandmother she loved. Now 15 years later her grandmother is too old to care for herself so she must return to the town where the men who raped her still live as respected members of the community.

When Noah finds Adelaide at the bottom of a mineshaft his protective instincts take over. But he can’t understand why Adelaide is so hesitant in sharing the details of her assault. As their relationship develops, the men who attacked her are watching nervously.

Home to Whiskey Creek is contemporary romance with a little suspense thrown in for good measure. There were a couple of missteps…I think Baxter’s story which has been bubbling away in the background for the last couple of books didn’t really add anything to the story. The conclusion felt a little rushed and I can’t help but think those pages devoted to Noah and Baxter would have been better spent fleshing out the ending.

But overall I liked this book a lot and those small criticisms don’t make me like this book any less. It’s probably my favorite in the series so far.

Many thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC