Sometimes home is the refuge you need — and sometimes it isn’t. Adelaide Davies, who’s been living in Sacramento, returns to Whiskey Creek, the place she once called home. She’s there to take care of her aging grandmother and to help with Gran’s restaurant, Just Like Mom’s. But Adelaide isn’t happy to be back. There are too many people here she’d rather avoid, people who were involved in that terrible June night fifteen years ago.
Ever since the graduation party that changed her life, she’s wanted to go to the police and make sure the boys responsible-men now-are punished. But she can’t, not without revealing an even darker secret. So it’s better to pretend….
Noah Rackham, popular, attractive, successful, is shocked when Adelaide won’t have anything to do with him. He has no idea that his very presence reminds her of something she’d rather forget. He only knows that he’s finally met a woman he could love.
Home to Whiskey Creek certainly kept me turning the pages! The relationship between Addie and Noah holds just the right balance of tension and attraction. Addie’s reluctance to get involved with anyone in Whiskey Creek, particularly Noah, stems from her fear of the truth coming out. At the same time, she’s never really gotten over her high-school crush on him, and is still very attracted to him, so she keeps sending mixed signals. I really liked Addie, though at times I wished she would just tell the truth and be done with it. But it’s clear why she doesn’t. Her feelings are complicated, as is the overall situation.
Noah makes a good hero — sexy, confident, kind and nice enough to be comfortable, but with a few humanizing flaws. A sensitively-handled subplot involving Noah and his best friend, Baxter, gives insight into Noah’s character (he’s a bit of a ladies’ man, and initially a little immature, but also a staunch friend) and shows him becoming more compassionate and mature. The subplot also helps bring Noah and Addy together — and they are definitely a good pairing despite the obstacles in their way!
I have to admit that the gang-rape plot element* was difficult for me, even though it was some years in Addy’s past. While she’s gotten over it in some ways, in other ways it’s still very present in her thoughts and continues to influence her feelings. More than once, I felt my own tension rising and my stomach churning — sensations I don’t usually associate with romance novels.
Once the truth finally comes out, the resolution unfolds almost too quickly and easily. Not, I’m sure, that it was always easy for Addy or Noah, but the book’s ending feels rushed, the events in the epilogue a little unrealistic, particularly regarding Noah’s parents’ changing attitude toward Addie. That surprised me, given how careful Novak is to avoid over-simplification of the complex emotional and practical issues earlier in the book. I also thought that Noah takes one aspect of the truth — Addy’s connection with his twin brother’s death — a little too much in stride. I expected more anger, more guilt, more anguish. On the other hand, it was heartwarming to see how strongly he backs her once he knows what had happened all those years before.
This is the first book by Brenda Novak I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. She has a talent for writing believable characters whose feelings, relationships, and challenges pull you in and keep you reading. I’ll be on the lookout for the other Whiskey Creek books!
* Not a spoiler, since the book description hints very strongly in that direction.
About the author: Brenda Novak began writing when her children were little, as a way to stay home with them. It took her five years to learn the craft and finish her first book. Her output has soared since then, and she has published nearly 40 titles, as well as a number of novellas and short stories. Her award-winning books range from small-town romances like the Whiskey Creek series to romantic mystery/suspense novels like the Last Stand and Department 6 series.
Brenda Novak lives in Sacramento with her husband Ted. They are the proud parents of five children. In addition to her roles as writer, wife, and mother, Novak runs an annual charity drive to support diabetes research. She loves to travel and watch sports, and she stays active, cycling 20 miles per day. (adapted from official biography on Brenda Novak’s website)
Rating: 3 stars
Category: Contemporary romance
Series: Whiskey Creek
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Release date: July 30, 2013
Book source: digital review copy from Harlequin via NetGalley