RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak


Title: Home to Whiskey Creek
Author: Brenda Novak
Publication Info: Harlequin MIRA July 2013
ISBN: 978-0778315452
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Home to Whiskey Creek This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Bean. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Contemporary Romance category.

The summary:

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.

And here is Bean's review:

This is one of those books that sounds super intriguing from the blurb, but fail in the follow through. The characters are … fine. The plot is … fine. The romance is … fine.

Home to Whiskey Creek is the fourth book in Brenda Novak’s Whiskey Creek series (There’s a starter novella as well).  The series revolves around a group of friends who grew up in the small town of Whiskey Creek in California’s Gold Coast. They’ve grown up unusually close and almost all are still living together in Whiskey Creek.

Adelaide Davies has returned home to Whiskey Creek for the first time since her high school graduation to care for her aging grandmother. Fifteen years ago, Addy was gang raped in an abandoned mine outside of town during a graduation party. The story opens with Addy being trapped in the same mine, having been kidnapped from her room in the middle of the night. Addy never reported the attack against her, and her kidnapper warns her not to now. Noah Rackman, a professional mountain biker and owner of the local bike shop, stumbles upon Addy and rescues her. Addy recognizes Noah as the fraternal twin brother of one of her attackers and vows to keep her distance but, shockingly enough, Noah has other ideas.

There’s a subplot involving Noah’s best friend, Baxter North, another of the core group of friends. Baxter, a gay man who has not yet come out to his friends, is in love with Noah. Bax eventually makes his feelings known. Noah’s reaction and subsequent behavior really bothered me. It took a lot away from the character for me. He’s certainly not a bad person, but he didn’t come across as particularly likable.

In addition to the central romance between Noah and Addy, and the above subplot, there’s a minor mystery as to who kidnapped Addy. I say minor because it became apparent fairly quickly who the assailant was, although there was a nice twist at the end.

A reader who hasn’t read the other books in the series would have a difficult time jumping in on this one. The Noah/Baxter dynamic is introduced in the previous novel (When Summer Comes) and is introduced rather abruptly in this one. Can you understand it? Absolutely. Will you appreciate it? Probably not as much.

I usually really enjoy a series with intertwining characters. I love seeing favorite secondary characters get their time in the spotlight. However, with Novak’s Whiskey Creek series, I’ve had a hard time becoming invested in the secondary characters. The core group consists of ten or so friends and sometimes that seems like too many people to keep track of. While each book deals with a subset of the group, almost all members are at least mentioned in each book. The group has a standing coffee date on Friday mornings and these scenes always strike me as that awkward chapter in every Babysitters Club book (that everyone skipped) outlining how the group was related to one another. I found myself skimming these sections more often than not.

Overall, I thought this book bit off more than it could chew. There’s a gang rape, kidnapping, the death of a sibling, homosexuality, government cover-ups, and an attempted suicide. I also thought the ending was wrapped up a little too neatly. While I found Addy’s concerns about reporting the crime realistic and compelling, I found the actual consequences a little too pat. Novak used the traumas in this book (both the rape and the homosexuality) as plot devices and when they were no longer needed, they were just sort of written out.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    DonnaMarie says:

    B- sounds generous.

  2. 2
    laj says:

    @DonnaMarie: Way too generous.

  3. 3
    LauraL says:

    Interesting review, Bean, and I think I will leave this one alone. Have to admit, I didn’t find Simon in When Lightning Strikes particularly likeable either.

  4. 4
    Rebecca (another one) says:

    I enjoyed some of the other books, but this one disturbed me. I wanted the heroine to start over somewhere else. She seemed way to forgiving to me. I wanted her to be angrier. Forgiveness is all well and good, but you can be angry first.

  5. 5

    I read When Lightning Strikes and was impressed that it transcended the forced marriage trope. Sounds like a lot is going on in this book—bummer to hear.

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