Book Reviews

When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak

13547967[1]“Simon O’Neal’s causing trouble again. And it’s up to Gail DeMarco to stop him.

Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all—sexy and unpredictable Simon O’Neal. But Simon, who’s just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self-destructing he won’t listen to anything she says. She drops him from her list—and he retaliates by taking the rest of her clients with him.

Desperate to save her company, Gail has to humble herself by making a deal with Simon. The one thing he wants is custody of his son, but that’s going to require a whole new image. He needs to marry some squeaky-clean girl who’ll drag him off to some small, obscure place like Whiskey Creek….

Gail’s the only one he can trust. She agrees to become his wife—reluctantly. But she isn’t reluctant because he’s too hard to like. It’s because he’s too hard not to love!” ~ Goodreads

I bought this book on my Kindle app for $1.99 way back when I knew I needed a “lighter” book to turn to. I’m glad I did. I just finished two heavier books and needed a little pick me up. It was released in 2012 and Brenda Novak’s name was always swirling around as a recommendation in the Contemporary Romance world.

I am a huge Kristan Higgins fan and finding a Contemporary Romance author that suits my tastes of balancing humor, romance, steamy scenes, fabulous dialogue and banter, build up, quirky characters and the scenic small town vibe is a daily challenge. I know, I know, such big problems. But I am serious. Her books, while some would call “fluff” or not literary enough for their large brains, are like comfort food to me. A place where I know I can go to for a few hours and escape. I have rated many of Higgins books on Goodreads from 3 to 5 stars. Again, some would think I am a nut job rating The Best Man and Pride and Prejudice both 5 stars or that I am no real critic. But I think of those ratings within the genre. P&P gets 5 from me in the classics and The Best Man gets a 5 in the Contemporary Romance category. So there!

Rant over. I believe I found another Contemporary Romance author who I can turn to! The formula is not something original or new, but the writing was my cup of tea. Excellent dialogue, check. Snarky banter, check. Small town vibe, check. Building romance, check. I could have done with just a touch more character development with the supporting cast but all in all, I really enjoyed it.

Simon is an A-lister movie star who is usually drinking and hooking up with all sorts of women. But he has heart and Gail could see through the Hollywood façade as his publicist. He’s on a downhill spiral and she needs to help him clean up his act, not only to save her business and help him get custody of his son, but because she truly cares.

“But firemen couldn’t avoid a burning building just because it was dangerous. Someone had to rush in and look for survivors…who would do it if she didn’t?”

Some might sarcastically say, “oh the poor movie star” but I think the talented and heartfelt writing of Novak made this book different than just being a typical romance novel. It’s ironic that several young movie stars and musicians are hitting rock bottom as I read this book (aka, the Biebs). As a parent and one who likes helping my friends, I keep thinking, where are their parents and friends? Who is looking out for them and not just a handout?

My favorite part of this book was the strength that the author gave to her characters. Gail was a fighter with heart. I loved that about her. When something happens at the end (no spoiler, I promise) she doesn’t roll up in a ball and cry like a fool or play games. She listens to what happened like a rational adult and then goes in fighting. That’s what Simon needs. A non BS-er. Someone real in his Hollywood life full of phony.

I can’t wait to read more in the series. I don’t believe you have to read them in order but this one is the first in the Whiskey Creek stand alone series. And she included an Epilogue! You know I love my Epilogues. 🙂

To learn more about Brenda Novak, her books and events please visit her site here.

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