Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday Review: Come Home to Me

Come Home to Me
By Brenda Novak
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: March 25, 2014

The Presley Christensen who returns to Whiskey Creek after a two-year absence is a responsible adult, not the scared, angry, rebel who ran away from her scarred childhood, her mother’s death, and a man who couldn’t love her as much as she loved him. She found a dangerous escape in drugs, but she is clean now and committed to giving her young son Wyatt a safe, secure, love-filled life very different from her experience.  Now a certified massage therapist, she is struggling to get her yoga/massage business started and looking forward to spending more time with her sister, Cheyenne Amos (When Snow Falls).  The last thing she expects or wants is to see Aaron Amos back in Whiskey Creek too. His presence makes it harder to keep a secret she is protecting.

Aaron Amos has also changed in two years. The Amos brothers’ hard work has paid off with a body shop business successful enough to expand, and Aaron is looking forward to moving to Reno and setting up shop there. He is looking forward to the challenge and to a new life in a place where everyone is quick to write him off as one of those wild Amos boys. Guilt has plagued Aaron ever since the night Pressley left town, guilt for hurting her and for failing to be what she needed him to be. He’s pleased to see her back and doing well, but he wants a chance to voice his regrets and seek her forgiveness. And the more she tries to avoid him, the more determined he is to have that conversation.

Complicated is an understatement when it comes to the relationship between Pressley and Aaron. As if their own pasts and Pressley’s secret were not enough, there is the additional tangle of Cheyenne being married to Aaron’s brother and a new wrinkle there. It is clear as soon as Pressley and Aaron see one another again that their chemistry is as volatile as ever. But he can’t wait to leave Whiskey Creek, and she is finding unexpected pleasure in becoming part of the community. Pressley is also leery of risking her heart again. She has too much to lose.

Brenda Novak sets her Whiskey Creek series apart from the dozens of other small-town romances being published by creating darker stories with edgier characters with problems that are not commonly seen in romance. She stays true to the pattern and even notches the difference up several degrees with this sixth installment in the series.

Both Pressley and Aaron had troubled childhoods, and they both made some bad choices. Seeing their hard-won maturity and their on-going efforts to reclaim their lives makes it easy to like them and to root for their second chance to include reconciliation and a chance for the family life they both missed out on as children. I enjoyed their story.

I was less happy with the secondary story thread involving Cheyenne. I loved When Snow Falls, and it has continued to be my favorite book in the series. I’m being vague to avoid spoilers, but I was really bothered by Cheyenne’s actions in this book. My concerns kept this book from being a top read for me. Nevertheless, I am invested in the Whiskey Creek characters and particularly eager to see Eve arrive at her HEA.

If you enjoy small-town romances with a difference and applaud authors who are not afraid to take a few risks, I think you will like Come Home to Me.

One of the delights of reading series for me is confirmation that the HEAs from earlier books in the series are ongoing. This book ruffled my complacency about an HEA and left me an unhappy reader. What do you think about complications added to a previously established HEA?


irisheyes said...

I think I know what you're referring to with Cheyenne and I'm with you - I don't like my HEAs gummed up in future books. I don't mind bumpy roads ahead for beloved characters. That actually is kind of fun to watch, but I like the HEA to be put back securely in place by the end of the novel. Looks like I might be a little put out by this one, huh!?

Janga said...

Irish, I'll be interested in what you think. I find deliberately deceiving your SO, especially on this particular issue disturbing. It's a hot-button issue for me, and it really shadowed the main story.