Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Published:  October 2019 – MIRA

Digital galley courtesy of MIRA and NetGalley

Description: Come home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where broken hearts learn to love again…together.

So much for forever. When Harper Devlin’s rock star husband ditches her on his way to the top, she takes her two daughters to her sister’s place in Silver Springs for the holidays, hoping family can heal her broken heart. But comfort comes in unexpected places when she crosses paths with local Tobias Richardson.

The moment Tobias spots Harper, he recognizes a sadness he knows all too well. After spending thirteen years in prison paying for his regretful past, Tobias is ready to make amends, and maybe helping Harper is the way to do it. But offering her a shoulder to cry on ignites a powerful attraction and a desire neither saw coming.

Fearing her reaction, Tobias doesn’t reveal his checkered past. He’s falling hard, and if Harper finds out, he’ll lose her for good, especially because her famous ex is now trying to win her back. Secrets have a way of coming out, but maybe this Christmas will bring Tobias the forgiveness—and the love—he deserves. (publisher)

My take:  Christmas in Silver Springs is book 6 in Brenda Novak’s Silver Springs series. It could stand alone but there are characters who figure into this novel who were featured in previous books so if you’ve read the series in order you’ll appreciate the context even more.

Tobias Richardson is looking for a second chance at life. He paid the price for horrible choices and results when he was a teen. Now released from prison he yearns that fresh start and he wants to make amends. He didn’t count on meeting Harper. She doesn’t know anything about his past but knows she likes the person he is. Recently divorced and the mother of two young girls she’s spending the Christmas holiday in Silver Springs with her sister and family. Can this new friendship with Tobias grow into something more? What happens when Harper’s ex-husband has second thoughts about their divorce? Tobias’s past might come back to haunt him and could effect his relationship with Harper.

If you’re a fan of the series I think you’ll enjoy the latest installment. I like a character who earns a second chance at a good life. Tobias was easy to cheer on.


BIO: Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a six-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Bookbuyer’s Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit http://www.brendanovak.com.

SOCIAL LINKS:

TWITTER: @Brenda_Novak

FB: @BrendaNovakAuthor

Insta: @authorbrendanovak 

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No One But You by Brenda Novak

  • Title:  No One But You
  • Series:  Silver Springs #2
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Pages:  448
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pub. Date:  May 30, 2017 – MIRA Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak welcomes you to Silver Springs, a picturesque small town in Southern California where even the hardest hearts can learn to love again… 

Struggling to make ends meet after a messy divorce, Sadie Harris is at the end of her tether. Her waitressing gig isn’t enough to pay the bills let alone secure primary custody of her son, Jayden, a battle she refuses to lose. Desperate, she accepts a position assisting Dawson Reed—the same Dawson Reed who recently stood trial for the murder of his adoptive parents. Joining him at his isolated farm seems risky, but Sadie is out of options. 

Dawson has given small town Silver Springs plenty of reasons to be wary, but he’s innocent of the charges against him. He wants to leave his painful past behind and fix up the family farm so he can finally bring his dependent sister home where she belongs. 

As Sadie and Dawson’s professional relationship grows into something undeniably personal, Sadie realizes there’s more to Dawson than the bad boy everyone else sees—he has a good heart, one that might even be worth fighting for. (publisher)

My take:  Can two people, down on their luck, find acceptance and even love when most of the world seems to be against them?

Sadie Harris, estranged from her husband (soon-to-be ex) and mother to a five-year-old boy is struggling to make ends meet. She just can’t seem to get ahead and her son’s father is trying to delay divorce by any means possible. He’s a bad guy and also a police officer who has the loyalty of his coworkers. No one seems to have a good opinion of Sadie because of what he’s told them. So it doesn’t help matters for her when she accepts a job being a caregiver to the sister of the local pariah, Dawson Reed. He was recently found not guilty of murdering his adoptive parents. He’s still guilty in the eyes of most of the townspeople and the local authorities.

Sadie and Dawson will have to contend with Sadie’s ex and others as they try to live normal lives. Brenda Novak’s novel was a quick and compelling read. Filled with interesting, odd, and a couple of abhorrent characters, the novel’s pages flew by and came to a satisfying conclusion. No One But You is second in the Silver Springs series but it can definitely stand alone. Recommended to fans of Brenda Novak and contemporary romance.


 

Finding Our Forever by Brenda Novak

  • finding-our-foreverTitle:  Finding Our Forever
  • Series:  Silver Springs #1
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  224
  • Published:  March 2017 – Harlequin Special Edition
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Cora Kelly was adopted as an infant by affluent parents and lived a good life. That didn’t stop the need to know who her birth parents were and why they gave her up. When her search leads to her birth mother will she be prepared for the answers.
Cora, an art teacher, interviews at the school for troubled boys that was founded by Aiyana, her birth mother. The person who hired her is Eli, one of Aiyana’s adopted sons. Cora is stunned to know that her birth mother would let her go but adopt several sons. One more question that needs an answer. Eli will figure prominently in Cora’s story. They have an attraction to each other that neither bothers to fight. Lots of intimate scenes for these two. On one level that kind of bothered me. On another level it was understandable.
I thought the resolution of Cora and Eli’s story was surprisingly quick and pat. I can live with that. Finding Our Forever is the first in a new contemporary romance series by Brenda Novak. I liked it and look forward to reading the books that follow.


 

The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak

  • the secrets she kept (7:26)Title:  The Secrets She Kept
  • Series:  Fairham Island #2
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Romantic Suspense
  • Published:  July 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it’s suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn’t believe it. 

Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he’s worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he’s built a new life in LA. He’s also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother’s death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he’s determined to find his mother’s killer. 

Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother’s final days and hours entails a very real risk. Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…  (publisher)

My take:  The Secrets She Kept is book 2 in the Fairham Island series. In book 1 we were introduced to the wealthy matriarch Josephine Lazarow. She was a complicated woman (a narcissist) who had to have control over everything and everyone in her life.

In this book a murder (or a suicide?) has taken place. The Lazarow family experiences changes they never anticipated. Josephine’s estranged son Keith returns home to find out what exactly happened to his mother. He also reconnects with Nancy, his love interest from five years earlier.  That’s not all though. Will he be able to prove that his sister couldn’t have had anything to do with their mother’s death?

This is a novel about secrets, lies, betrayals and love – and ultimately, forgiveness. I think fans of Brenda Novak and romantic suspense will enjoy The Secrets She Kept.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author has written more than fifty books, with more than four million copies in print. This four-time RITA® Award nominee has won many awards, including the National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers’ Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date she’s raised $2.7 million.


Praise for the first book in the Fairham Island series: The Secret Sister
“This emotional novel showcases Novak’s exceptional talent at creating genuine characters and real-life situations we sometimes try to dodge. The power of family is strong, and the element of mystery is stable throughout this romance. Fairham Island is painted as a picturesque seaside town, but the debut to this series could have readers believing there are a lot of buried secrets and stories to be told surrounding the residents’ wishes for peace and quiet. Completely engrossing with a twist at the end you wouldn’t dare dream of!”—RT Book Reviews (4.5 Star Top Pick)

The Secret Sister is a sweet story that touches on the trials of life and illustrates how death, loss, abuse, despair, and unexpected trials can make us stronger, but also points out that it is perfectly acceptable to find someone to lean on when you really need the help. This is a great book that romance readers and fans of general fiction are bound to enjoy.”—Portland Book Review

“Skillful plotting, well-developed characters (a blind little girl is adorable), a delightful romance, toxic family dynamics, and a puzzling mystery make this story a rewarding read that will appeal to both romance and women’s fiction fans.”—Library Journal

“In her latest, Novak neatly entwines contemporary romance and women’s fiction by delivering the emotionally compelling romance readers expect while at the same time thoughtfully exploring the other relationships every woman has in her life. Add a gothic-tinged plot, and you have a book with wide reader appeal.”— Booklist

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak is indeed the best romantic thriller I have read… Brenda Novak has a raw talent for bringing her novels to life. Realistic, suspenseful, and an edge of your seat romance that will have readers coming back for more.”—The San Francisco Book Review

Review/US Giveaway: Discovering You by Brenda Novak

  • Discovering You by Brenda Novak (6:1)Title:  Discovering You
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek #10
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  June 2016 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  India Sommers once had the perfect family—until an ex-boyfriend broke in and shot her husband. Not only did that cost her the man she loved, a respected heart surgeon and the father of her child, but she also feels responsible. Charlie died because of the people she hung out with before she had the strength to change her life. 

Just after moving to Whiskey Creek with her little girl, Cassia, to start over, she’s learned that her ex-boyfriend’s trial ended in a hung jury. He’s getting out of jail; he could try to find her again. And that’s not all that scares her. She’s extremely attracted to her next-door neighbor, but Rod Amos is the handsome “bad boy” type that’s given her so much trouble in the past. If she got involved with him, her in-laws would sue for custody of Cassia. 

India has to keep her distance from Rod—but the more she gets to know him, the more difficult that becomes. (publisher)

My take:  Discovering You is the newest book in the Whiskey Creek series.  It features one of the younger Amos brothers, Rod and a newcomer to town, India Sommers.

India is hoping to make a new start in a town where no one knows her past. She has a memorable introduction of sorts to her neighbor Rod that makes for an entertaining start to the novel. These two are intrigued by each other.

The past year has been one of heartbreak and anguish for India. She’s hoping to get her new home in Whiskey Creek ready for her young daughter so they can both move forward in life. But first she needs to put things from her past right. That leads to some dramatic events that Rod involves himself in, thankfully.

Brenda Novak’s story was a page-turner. Even though it had a bit of a tidy wrap-up I enjoyed it and think fans of the Whiskey Creek series will as well.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Novak has written over 50 novels. A five-time Rita nominee, she’s won The National Reader’s Choice, The Bookseller’s Best, The Bookbuyer’s Best and many other awards. Besides writing, she runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity which hosts an annual fundraiser for diabetes research. To date, she’s raised over $2.5 million for this cause. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

PRAISE FOR THE WHISKEY CREEK SERIES:
“Another Whiskey Creek novel is just what readers need to satisfy their craving for a romance that tugs at the heartstrings.”

–RT Book Reviews on A Winter Wedding, Top Pick

“[This Heart of Mine] had such beautiful details that it captured my full attention–and had me sniffling and smiling while waiting to board my plane.”–First for Women

“This Heart of Mine is a potently emotional, powerfully life-affirming contemporary romance that can be read and enjoyed on its own, but it also serves as an excellent addition to Novak’s popular Whiskey Creek series.”–Booklist, starred review

“Another engrossing addition to Novak’s addictive series.”–Library Journal on This Heart of Mine, starred review

“Novak’s Whiskey Creek novels are a favorite among romance readers because of their small-town charm… Novak never disappoints.”

–RT Book Reviews on This Heart of Mine, Top Pick

“Once again Novak’s Whiskey Creek springs to life in all its realistic, gritty Gold Country glory as two determined, likable people come to terms with their pasts and give love a chance. This poignant, heartfelt romance puts a refreshing spin on the classic reunion/secret baby theme.”–Library Journal on Come Home to Me

“One needn’t wonder why Novak is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. Just read Come Home to Me.”–Examiner.com

“The Whiskey Creek series is an absolute delight and this newest installment is…so satisfying I ran out of superlatives. Brenda Novak outdid herself in Take Me Home for Christmas.”–Fresh Fiction

“It’s steamy, it’s poignant, it’s perfectly paced–it’s When Lightning Strikes and you don’t want to miss it.”–USATODAY.com’s Happy Ever After blog


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Discovering You by Brenda Novak (6:1)

A Winter Wedding by Brenda Novak

  • a winter wedding (10:27)Title:  A Winter Wedding
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek, #9
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
    • Pages:  384
  • Pub. date:  October 27, 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  One Christmas can change your life… 
Kyle Houseman believes he’ll never find anyone he could love as much as Olivia Arnold, who’s now married to his stepbrother. Not only did he lose her, he’s been through one divorce and has no desire to go through another. He’s determined to be extra careful about the next woman he gets involved with—which is why he fights his attraction to the beautiful stranger who rents his farmhouse for the Christmas holiday.  

Lourdes Bennett is a country music artist. She’s only planning to stay in Whiskey Creek long enough to write the songs for her next album—the album that’s going to put her back on top. Her dreams don’t include settling in a town even smaller than the one she escaped. But as she comes to know Kyle, she begins to wonder if she’d be making a terrible mistake to leave him behind…  (publisher)

My take: If you’re a fan of the Whiskey Creek series you know Kyle and his story of bad luck when it comes to love. The fact that both of his past experiences were with polar-opposite sisters (and neither ended well) has left him extremely reluctant to get involved with just anyone.

When Kyle meets Lourdes he knows she’s special but circumstances lead him to believe it wouldn’t be a good idea to get involved with her. She comes to the same conclusion about him but still wonders “What if?”.  If they decide to go for it do they really have the courage to make difficult choices and see it through?

I enjoyed A Winter Wedding. It was fun to see most of the Whiskey Creek gang and find out what they were up to and I liked the setting of the town decorated for Christmas. I suppose this book could stand alone but you’ll get more context where Kyle is concerned if you read the first few books in the series.

Recommended to fans of the series and contemporary romance.


 

 

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

  • the secret sister (7:28)Title:  The Secret Sister
  • Series:  Fairham Island #1
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Mystery
  • Published:  July 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why? 

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who’s asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago. 

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she’d prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He’s back on the island, and to her surprise, he’s raising a young daughter alone. Maisey’s still attracted to him, but her heart’s too broken to risk… 

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must’ve been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister. 

Maisey’s convinced that child existed. So where is she now?  (publisher)

My take:  It’s alway fun to get in on the first book in a series when it first publishes. 

I loved the gothic tone of The Secret Sister. There’s the rich family with the cold, detached matriarch, the mansion on the hill, and the mystery that no one wants to talk about. Youngest daughter Maisey is determined to find out what happened to (what appears to be) her older sister.  Her brother Keith has been blamed for her disappearance and that has affected his life to the point that he finds his only relief in drugs. He doesn’t think he can handle having it all dredged up again so he’s not thrilled that Maisey is asking questions.

Thank goodness Maisey has Rafe and his young daughter to help keep her sane. They knew each other briefly when they were younger. Now, more than ten years later, life has given them both new perspective and they appreciate their possible second chance. Rafe wants to help Maisey find out what happened to the girl in the photographs. I thought they had great chemistry and I loved the interactions between Maisey and Laney, Rafe’s daughter.

I was satisfied (and a little surprised) with how the mystery was solved. If you like a contemporary romance wrapped around a mystery I think you’ll enjoy The Secret Sister. I certainly did and can’t wait to read the next book in the Fairham Island series.

This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

  • This Heart of Mine (Mar31)Title:  This Heart of Mine
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek #8
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  March 31, 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Phoenix Fuller grew up in the small town of Whiskey Creek, CA. Raised by a mother who was a hoarder, abandoned by her father and older brothers, she was an outcast at school. When she was befriended by Riley Stinson, her math tutor and classmate, she started to have hope for a normal life. They fell in love and were soon expecting a baby. As happens to many first loves, the two broke up. Riley started dating another girl while Phoenix felt her life going back to the way it was before Riley.  Phoenix was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of another classmate (Riley’s new girlfriend). Phoenix’s life changed at that moment and she went to prison for 17 years. Now released after serving her sentence she’s back in Whiskey Creek and hopes to form a relationship with her teen-aged son.

The family and friends of the girl who was killed are determined to make Phoenix’s life miserable. If their daughter and sister can’t be alive, her alleged killer should not live a happy life, much less in the town where they live.

Over the course of the Whiskey Creek series we’ve met several members of a tight-knit  group of friends who’ve faced challenges of their own. They show a willingness to support their friend Riley in the way he’s always supported them. That was gratifying for me as a reader. I enjoyed THIS HEART OF MINE. I’d wondered about Phoenix each time she was mentioned in previous books. I wasn’t sure how Brenda Novak would present her when she figured into the series as a major character. I thought she wrote a wonderful portrayal of a character I hadn’t expected to like.

If you’re a fan of Brenda Novak and the Whiskey Creek series I think you’ll enjoy the newest addition to the series as much as I did.

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak

  • The Heart of Christmas (Oct28)Title:  The Heart of Christmas
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek #7
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2014 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Just call her Christmas Eve…  Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn’t have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that’s what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining. 

Eve’s worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There’s no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve’s definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve’s happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she’s counting on the best Christmas of her life!  (publisher)

My take:  The Heart of Christmas is one of those books that’s almost impossible to stop reading – at least it was for me! It’s book 7 in the Whiskey Creek series but it can stand alone.

The Heart of Christmas is filled with romance, suspense and a mystery. I loved the story of Eve and her handsome stranger. I couldn’t imagine how Brenda Novak would find a way to happiness for these two but I think she really hit this one out of the park (no spoilers here).

I can’t wait to see what she dreams up next for the group of friends in Whiskey Creek. Recommended to fans of the series and anyone who enjoys a good story.

Note:  Several weeks ago I happened to see a tweet from Brenda Novak telling readers that a characters from her book INSIDE would be one of the featured characters in The Heart of Christmas. Many readers requested his story going forward from INSIDE. You don’t have to read INSIDE but I did and learned a lot of background on the character. That said, Novak does a great job informing readers of his background in The Heart of Christmas.

Come Home to Me by Brenda Novak

come home to me

  • Title:  Come Home to Me
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek, #6
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Romance
  • Published:  March 2014 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis: Home is where her heart is. When Presley Christensen returns to Whiskey Creek with her little boy after two years away, she has completely changed her life. She’s made peace with her past and overcome the negative behavior that resulted from her difficult childhood. Now she’s back in the small town that was the closest thing to “home” she ever knew — the town where she can be with the sister who’s her only family. 

There’s just one catch. Aaron Amos still lives in Whiskey Creek, at least until he moves to Reno to open a branch of the Amos brothers’ auto body shop. And no matter how hard she’s tried, Presley hasn’t been able to get over him. Seeing him again makes the longing so much worse. But she hopes she can get through the next few months, because she can’t fall back into his arms…or his bed. She’s come too far to backslide now. And there’s a secret she’s been guarding — a secret she’ll do anything to protect.  (publisher)

My take:  Usually when you get to the sixth book in a series the reader has expectations of former secondary characters getting their time in the spotlight and most likely finding their happily-ever-after. In that regard, Brenda Novak’s sixth book in the Whiskey Creek series fits the mold.

What I didn’t expect was a secret (other than the one alluded to in the synopsis) that will probably threaten the future of the people who think they’re doing the right thing for the happiness of another character. 

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.  – Sir Walter Scott

That secret was a major distraction to my reading experience. While I liked that Presley and Aaron had worked hard on their personal growth and had positive goals and ambitions I couldn’t get past their participation in a plan that will have a lasting impact on the lives of many.

So, it may seem like I didn’t like Come Home to Me but I like getting emotionally involved in the outcome of any book I read. This book definitely evoked emotions and I look forward to the continuation of “the secret” story line in which the characters involved will hopefully come to their senses!

Take Me Home For Christmas by Brenda Novak

take me home for christmas

  • Title:  Take Me Home For Christmas
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek #5
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2013 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Christmas is a time for remembering…

Too bad not all memories are pleasant! Everyone in Whiskey Creek remembers Sophia DeBussi as the town’s Mean Girl. Especially Ted Dixon, whose love she once scorned.

But Sophia has paid the price for her youthful transgressions. The man she did marry was rich and powerful but abusive. So when he goes missing, she secretly hopes he’ll never come back—until she learns that he died running from an FBI probe of his investment firm. Not only has he left Sophia penniless, he’s left her to face all the townspeople he cheated.…

Sophia is reduced to looking for any kind of work to pay the bills and support her daughter. With no other options, she becomes housekeeper for none other than Ted, now a successful suspense writer. He can’t bring himself to turn his back on her, not at Christmas, but he refuses to get emotionally involved. He learned his lesson the last time.

Or will the season of love and forgiveness give them both another chance at happiness? (publisher)

My take:  When Sophia and Ted were in high school they were madly in love and planned to spend the rest of their lives together. Things changed though and Sophia ended up married to a wealthy and emotionally and physically abusive man. Fourteen years later, Sophia finds herself a widowed mother, broke, and working for the last person she’d expect to be her employer. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sophia has no choice if she wants to provide for her daughter. She needs to save money so she and Alexa can move away from Whiskey Creek and make a new life where no one knows them.

Ted tried to get over Sophia after she married another man but he never quite did. He became a successful author but hasn’t found the same success in a relationship. Recently he’s started dating a long-time friend, Eve. He attempts to distance himself emotionally from Sophia but that’s difficult now that she’s in close proximity. The attraction is as strong as ever.

Take Me Home For Christmas is a story of love and forgiveness and redemption. I wondered how Brenda Novak would bring Sophia and Ted together after finding out bits and pieces of their history in previous books. I enjoyed how she did it and hope we get to learn a little more of the rest of their story in the next book.

Recommended for fans of the Whiskey Creek series and small town Christmas romances.

Expected publication:  Oct. 29, 2013

Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak

home to whiskey creek

  • Title:  Home to Whiskey Creek (#4, Whiskey Creek series)
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  July 2013 – Harlequin/MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  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. (publisher)

My take:  From page one Brenda Novak had me riveted to Addy and Noah’s story. It had such a dark beginning that I wondered how it would resolve by the end. Not to worry, truth will triumph over evil and deceit eventually and Novak’s story showed that to be the case.

The adage The truth will set you free is borne out for Addy as well as (in another storyline) Noah’s best friend Baxter. They discover that the people who really know and love you will always be there for you – no matter what.

Home to Whiskey Creek is a story of friendship, romance, mystery, and forgiveness. It’s a book that could stand on its own but there are many recurring characters from previous books that you may enjoy reading about from the start. Either way, I liked this addition to the Whiskey Creek series and look forward to reading the next.

Killer Heat by Brenda Novak

Killer Heat  (Dept 6 Hired Guns, #3)Back of the book: The bodies of seven women have been discovered in Skull Valley, Arizona. Jonah Young, a private security operative from Department 6, has been hired by the Yavapai County Sheriff to assist in solving these murders.  But Jonah’s not prepared for the complications that arise when he’s forced to work with a woman from his past, private investigator Francesca Moretti.

Jonah betrayed Francesca ten years ago. She hasn’t forgiven him and she’s pretty sure she never will. But the woman she was hired to find has been murdered in exactly the same way as the seven in Skull Valley, so like it or not, Francesca has to work with Jonah. They quickly zero in on the most likely suspect–but questions remain. Questions they have to answer. Because if they bet on the wrong man, it might be the last thing they ever do…

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My review: Killer Heat is the third book in the Dept. 6 Hired Guns series by Brenda Novak.  Seven bodies have been found – women who’ve apparently been raped and then killed.  Francesca Moretti and Jonah Young, along with the local authorities, are searching for the killer before another murder takes place.

Francesca and Jonah share a past that ended when he betrayed her – that is, she thought it ended until she became involved with the case and he was already working on it as a consultant.  Putting their past behind them, for the time being, they concentrate their efforts on solving the case.

Novak gives us plenty of suspects – some have more motive than others.  I thought the suspense built at a perfect pace leading to a breathtaking final scene.  I hope there will be more books in the Dept. 6 series.  I’ve enjoyed them all and recommend the series to fans of romantic suspense.  Killer Heat will be published Sept. 28, 2010.

Review copy from Harlequin MIRA via NetGalley

Body Heat by Brenda Novak

Body Heat  (Dept 6 Hired Guns, #2)Book blurb: Twelve people have been shot at pointblank range and left to rot in the desert sun. It’s Sophia St. Claire’s job to do something about it. She’s Bordertown, Arizona’s new chief of police—and she’s out of her depth.

Help arrives in the form of Department 6 hired gun Roderick Guerrero. As far as Sophia’s concerned, his involvement only makes things worse. Maybe he’s managed to turn his life around. And maybe he’s a good investigator. But as the bastard son of a wealthy local rancher, he has a history he can’t get past. A history that includes her.

Rod refuses to leave town until the killer is caught. He’s not worried about the danger posed by some vigilante. It’s Sophia who threatens him. Because he’s used to risking his life–but his heart is another story.

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My review: Brenda Novak’s latest Department 6 novel had me wondering who the killer was right up until the end.  She throws a few possibilities out there but I didn’t figure it out.  As in the first book, White Heat, Novak describes the Arizona setting perfectly.  I could almost feel the heat and taste the dust.

I enjoyed the main characters Sophia and Rod.  She’s trying to prove herself as worthy and capable of being the police chief of Bordertown, AZ. Rod has a chip on his shoulder a mile wide but he’s determined to find the killer even if it means working with someone who doesn’t want anything to do with him.

There are interesting supporting characters who fill in the background but Body Heat is Sophia and Rod’s story.  When they finally stop fighting each other they find out they make a great team.

The pace was rather slow to begin with but picked up in the second half.  It became quite a page turner.  I enjoyed it and look forward to the next book in the series: Killer Heat.

Review ebook from Harlequin/MIRA via NetGalley

White Heat by Brenda Novak

White Heat (Dept 6 Hired Guns, #1)

Back of the book: A dangerous cult has recently taken over the desert ghost town of Paradise, Arizona.  Members worship at the feet – and in the bed – of its charismatic leader, Ethan Wycliff, and obey his orders blindly.  They’ve already tried to murder one woman and they’re implicated in the disappearance of another.

Nate Ferrentino, who works for private security contractor Department 6, has been assigned to infiltrate this group.  It’s a challenge he welcomes – until he learns that colleague Rachel Jessop will be going undercover with him.  Thanks to their shared history, he’d much rather go alone…

The problem is, only married couples can participate in cult rituals.  So, like it or not – and they don’t – Rachel and Nate must pretend to be husband and wife.  There’s no choice.  Because if Wycliff isn’t exposed, if he isn’t stopped, more people will die. And Rachel might be one of them.

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I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense novels and I’ve never read one by Brenda Novak but after reading White Heat I’ll be looking for more of her books.  I really enjoyed the main characters. Rachel and Nate wish they could forget the embarrassing event that took place several months earlier but they must maintain a professional attitude in an uncomfortable situation.  And talk about uncomfortable – everything from the ride to the location, the grimy trailer where they stay until going to the commune, and then the commune itself.  Novak brings the hot and dry Arizona setting alive.

The pace was great.  The suspense of whether or not Rachel and Nate would be successful in their mission had me quickly turning the pages.  That was really the best part for me because although it was easy to predict what would happen, I just wasn’t sure about how.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Novak’s bad guys were creepy bad.    The Manson-like cult leader and his number one henchman were pretty scary.   I didn’t enjoy reading about the cult rituals. Even the main characters wished they weren’t on this mission – they’d rather have been on a drug bust or any other case.  Novak did a good job developing the supporting characters giving enough detail to explain why they might be involved in a cult.  All in all, I liked the novel even though I didn’t enjoy the cult topic.

White Heat is the first in a series.  I’m looking forward to reading the next book – Body Heat.  Recommended to fans of Romantic Suspense and Brenda Novak.

Review copy from MIRA Books