Home to Whiskey Creek (Whiskey Creek #4) by Brenda Novak
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.
Brenda Novak has been on my list of authors to read for quite a while, and I appreciated the opportunity to review one of her books so I could get an idea of her writing style and her approach to romance. Whiskey Creek is the fourth book in this series and although it can stand alone, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had started at the beginning so I could have connected with other characters mentioned in the story who have probably been featured in previous books.
Whiskey Creek centers on the love story of Adelaide (Addy) Davies and Noah Rackham. I would categorize this book as a contemporary romance with some mystery and a tiny bit of suspense as the full story about Adelaide’s brutal experience fifteen years ago is revealed and well as the repercussions that will follow if the truth comes out.
Novak delves into some sensitive, stirring issues that may be controversial or uncomfortable for some readers. She explores the multitude of emotions Addie experiences after her attack and the lingering effects it still has on her life, especially when she returns to Whiskey Creek to care for her ailing grandmother. Since Whiskey Creek is such a small town, she cannot help but run into the boys who hurt her long ago, and her reactions to seeing them again show her strength and courage that, at times, was surprising and admirable. Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would react in her situation.
I like that Novak also takes the time to explore the mindset of the boys who were involved in the event and their reflections on their behavior now that they are grown men with their own families. Getting the men’s perspectives brings up whether one evil act should define you for the rest of your life? Do they deserve redemption?
The first scene has a great hook that grabbed my attention and immediately pulled me into the story when Noah finds Addie who has been beaten and is trapped into an old, abandoned mine. Addy is surprised and worried when she discovers Noah is the twin brother of Cody, one of the boys who participated in her cruel assault. Noah becomes suspicious of Addy’s fabricated story about her abduction when she refuses to go to the hospital and talk to the police, but now that she and her grandmother’s lives have been threatened, Addy is determined to keep her past hidden, even though she may never find a sense of peace and resolution.
Although Addy has been attracted to Noah since high school, she does her best to avoid him when he tries to get to know her. Even though she used to dream about having a relationship with Noah, she knows that being with him will only make the situation worse. Getting attached to him will make it more difficult for her to keep quiet yet exposing this nightmare will devastate him and his family. Addy also has another secret that no one knows about and she can’t bear to think of the pain she will cause Noah if he learns the truth.
As Noah gets to know and care about Addy, he begins his own search to find out what she’s hiding from him. While he pursues a relationship with Addy, he must also deal with his best friend, Baxter’s, secret and its potential to end a long, close friendship. At first I didn’t see the relevance of this story thread but now I think it foreshadows his decisions when his family and some of the citizens in Whiskey Creek impugn Addy’s reputation. However, I still think the story could be just as strong without including this complication.
For me, Addy and Noah’s romance budding romance was lukewarm. They are really strangers to each other and both have issues with intimacy and commitment. This may be a big factor in why I just didn’t feel they had a strong chemistry. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked Noah; he’s a playboy and sees Addy as a challenge when she doesn’t fall at his fit as other women do. I also couldn’t believe the depth of Addy’s feelings for Noah over the years. Yes, it’s clear she has always had a crush on him, but in reality Noah barely remembers her. I found it hard to believe that he has always been the love of her life.
Novak includes the ongoing story threads of other characters who have been or probably will be featured in the series, but as someone who hasn’t read the other books, I was overwhelmed by trying to remember the characters and their connections to one another. Eventually, I just glossed over these sections and kept my focus on Noah and Addy.
The plot is somewhat predictable although Novak does throw in some red herrings to keep you guessing about the identity of the man threatening Addy. What really made this story worthwhile is the rich character development and Addy and Noah’s growth as they face unresolved issues that have kept them from moving forward.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review
About the Author
It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s bestselling author career.
“I caught my day-care provider drugging my children with cough syrup and Tylenol to get them to sleep while I was away,” Brenda says. “It was then that I decided that I needed to do something from home.”
However, writing was the last profession she expected to undertake. In fact, Brenda swears she didn’t have a creative bone in her body. In school, math and science were her best subjects, and when it came time to pick a major in college, she chose business.
Abandoning her academic scholarship to Brigham Young University at the age of 20 in order to get married and start a family, Brenda dabbled in commercial real estate, then became a loan officer.
“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda admits. “I learned how to write by reading what others have written. The best advice for any would-be author: read, read, read….”
Brenda sold her first book, and the rest is history. Many of her novels have won or placed in contests such as the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Write Touch, the Award of Excellence and the Beacon Award for Published Authors.
Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are the proud parents of five children—three girls and two boys. She juggles her writing career with her children’s softball and soccer games, field trips, carpool runs and homework sessions.
When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually working on her annual fundraiser for diabetes research—an on-line auction held at her website May 1st – May 31st. Her youngest son, Thad, has diabetes, and Brenda is determined to help him and others like him. She also enjoys traveling, watching sporting events and biking–she rides an amazing 20 miles every day! (From Goodreads Profile)
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