Tag Archives: Author – N

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

thesecretsister-brendanovakDid 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?

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The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak – Review

Review by Cara M.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I have always been a huge Brenda Novak fan, but unfortunately, the downhill slide began for me with Come Home to Me. I wasn’t a big fan of the couple in that story, nor a fan of the Cheyenne/Dylan subplot in this one. I felt like everything in Presley’ and Aaron’s story was iffy—from the drug abuse/recovery and those two not really being good for each other overall to Cheyenne lying to Dylan and involving Aaron. So when The Heart of Christmas was offered for review I thought I’d give this series another chance. I sort of wish I hadn’t. If it had just been Eve’s story it might have been okay—though some of her characteristics aren’t that admirable for a heroine—but it wasn’t just her story. There was a lot of ‘extras’ thrown in. You have Ted’s interference in Eve’s life—which he had no right to do since he broke up with her to go back to Sophia. There was the whole Dylan and Cheyenne issue—which wasn’t really resolved. Overall I thought all the other subplots detracted from Eve and Rex’s story.

If you take those out, and you review this book only on their story, it would be a nice, sweet romance. While Rex is known by other names and has a dangerous past, the chemistry between him and Eve was immediate and immensely satisfying to read. Rex has no choice but to keep secrets and tell lies to keep Eve safe, but in the end he proves to be a great guy. Eve was a little stalkerish at points but he’s secretive and she doesn’t want to be hurt so I kind of understood that and was even sort of proud of her for standing up for herself in that way.

I enjoyed parts of the book and not others. I would like to see Mrs. Novak get back to the romance with a little drama more than the soap feel these last few books have given us. I really miss those. I am almost to the point of not reading any more for fear they will ruin the other romances I loved so much (like Dylan and Cheyenne).

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Jingle Spells by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclair, Andrea Laurence – Review

jinglespells

Reviewed by Cara M.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Jingle Spells is a treasure trove of holiday stories all wrapped together into one magical package!

Featuring stories from Vicki Lewis Thompson, Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclaire and Andrea Laurence, this collection centers around the Evergreen siblings—a family of wizards charged with managing Christmas and all it entails!

Naughty or Nice? by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Cole Evergreen isn’t just the oldest sibling of the Evergreen clan, he’s also the CEO of Evergreen Industries. Not to mention he’s a genious. And once upon a time as an MIT student, he fell hard for Taryn Harper—a girl smarter than him! But when he was needed at home, Cole had to drop everything—including Taryn—to pick up the leadership torch and ensure his family’s way of life was preserved. Now years later, Taryn wants some type of closure! And what better way to do it than to prove Cole’s security isn’t up to snuff?

I’m a fan of Ms. Thompson’s work in any format—though preferably the cowboy one!—so I wasn’t sure what to expect with her writing a more ‘enchanted’ type but I enjoyed this one a lot. The characters came to life, and she set up the other siblings well. That Taryn was perfect for Cole was just another fabulous nugget to an interesting concept.

She’s a Mean One by Rhonda Nelson

In She’s a Mean One, Ms. Nelson brings together the once whimsical girl turned serious psychologist, Lark DeWynter and Mr. Christmas Spirit himself, Ethan Evergreen. Charged with ensuring the level of Christmas spirit stays up, Ethan must make rounds to dissuade the negative impact Lark’s more practical reasoning often causes. After several years of talk shows and bantering, Ethan quickly realizes he wants more from Lark than spirited words…only can he convince her to give him and Christmas a shot?

There is nobody who does sexy/sweet romance better than Rhonda Nelson. And this story—though short—is no exception. Ethan is loveable, yet manly. He’s smart and resourceful. And he isn’t afraid to go after what he wants. Lark is smart, sexy and independent. Yet she knows what’s in her heart. A fantastic addition to this collection, for sure!

His First Noelle by Kira Sinclair

Noelle Frost and Dash Evergreen have some troubling history. The two came together despite Noelle being a ‘mixed’ breed born of two rival clans. Though her father is Winter and she was raised with them, she never felt like one of them. But can they move past their history and make a future?

I’ll admit this wasn’t my favorite. Though I liked the characters well enough, there was just something about the insecurities of the ‘strong’ heroine and the secret keeping hero that didn’t set right. But in general it was cohesive with the rest of the stories and moved the plot along.

Silver Belle by Andrea Laurence

The final story in this collection is the only sister, Belle Evergreen. For a long time, Belle’s carried on a secret, no-strings affair with the hunky contractor, Nick St. John. But with Santa gone, Belle is the one in charge of replacing him. Her job heats up and her affair is in the way!

Being the last, this story offered up the chance of being fabulous or perhaps a dud. It came through. While not really fabulous, it was nice. I liked Nick. Belle not so much. I enjoyed her in the other stories, but this one made me feel like she was shallow and ungrateful. And somewhat a user when it came to Nick.

Ultimately, though I would recommend this entire book to anyone!

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About the book…

To protect Christmas, this family of wizards will have to use a whole different kind of magic…

Part of the Winter clan, the Evergreen family is considered magical nobility. While Evergreen Industries in picturesque Gingerbread, Colorado, might look like an ordinary office building, this is where the magic of Christmas unfolds. Above Santa’s workshop, the Evergreens hold court, manage Christmas and, sometimes against their will and better judgment, fall in love. When it comes to love, the Evergreens know that sometimes you have to play a little naughty to get exactly what—or who—you want from Santa.

Celebrate the holidays with Evergreen siblings Cole, Ethan, Dash and Belle in this enchanting collection.

The Heartsof Christmas by Brenda Novak

theheartofchristmas-brendanovak 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!

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Come Home to Me by Brenda Novak – Review

come home to me Review by Cara M.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dramatic, emotionally engaging, and somewhat heart-wrenching, Brenda Novak’s Come Home to Me engaged me from the first page and hung on long after…but maybe not in the way I’d hoped!

As with most all of Ms. Novak’s Whiskey Creek novels, I’ve had mixed feelings at first. From the fabulous When Snow Falls, the sweet When Lightening Strikes, and the heart-wrenching When Summer Comes, I’ve pretty much always loved her work. Even with When We Touch, Home to Whiskey Creek and Take Me Home For Christmas not being my favorites due to various reasons, in the end, I’ve enjoyed the stories and eagerly awaited the next in the series.

But from the moment I read When Snow Falls I’ve wanted to see what happens with Preston and Aaron. Both are strong, deeply wounded characters. Both fed each other’s addictions. So I wondered if they could ever make it work and move past their problems to a future that was positive. Now I no longer have to wonder. Drawn together by circumstances and family, I feel like the two got the much needed second chance to be positive for each other instead of destructive. The glue that ties these two is strong, though I wondered if it was often demented or maybe just obsession. In the end, however, I believe with the support of friends and family they can overcome the past and make a wonderful future together for their child. Maybe.

The thing about this installment of the series is that it didn’t really add much to the well being of the series. What I mean is that it was pretty disappointing to me that some of the characters that I’d loved didn’t stay lovable. In fact, they seemed to become deranged and unlikeable, definitely not trustworthy. And they took what I’d wondered if would turn into a MAJOR issue between Cheyenne and Dylan at the end of their story, When Snow Falls, and turned it into a totally unacceptable betrayal. Honestly, I had wondered how Cheyenne and Dylan would survive her keeping such a huge secret from him (if you’ve read the story you’ll know what I’m getting at), but that is nothing compared to the soap worthy betrayal she performed in this story. In fact, I’m sick over it. I LOVED how these two were together in their story. Dylan was magnificent. Cheyenne was strong and finding herself in an impossible situation made the best of it, if not the best choices. But instead of making amends and working through her lie with her husband, she compounded the issues and brought out some new ones in this book.

If you’re a fan of the series you’ll want to read this one just to keep up…or maybe you won’t. Because the change in the characters wasn’t at all inline with what you’ve come to expect from them. In fact, if I didn’t like Eve I’d be tempted not to read her story because I’m afraid of what will be added about Dylan and Cheyenne. Why, oh why couldn’t Ms. Novak of given a little happy drama to their lives instead of making it negative? Find another sub-plot to add texture to the overall community feel of this series. Bring in something fresh. At any rate, be warned. You may not like how this one goes. 

Get your copy of Come Home to Me now!

 

Book Description:

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.

Take Me Home for Christmas by Brenda Novak – Review

“…full of emotional turmoil and hard issues.”

Reviewed by Cara M.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Take Me Home for Christmas by Brenda Novak brings you back to Whiskey Creek with the much waited for story of Sophia DeBussi and Ted Dixon. As with all of Ms. Novak’s stories, this one was full of emotional turmoil and hard issues. It will leave you on edge and your heart aching until the end.

Sophia DeBussi wasn’t always nice and she often made poor choices…in high school. But that’s what people in a small town tend to remember. Add to that a mistake that cost her the one guy she’d really loved, Ted, and you can almost feel sorry for her from the start. If you haven’t read the other books in this series  (When Snow Falls, When Lightening Strikes, When We Touch, When Summer Comes, Home to Whiskey Creek), you can still enjoy this story. But it would certainly help you to see snatches of the life Sophia is living, how her life has been controlled by fear. The reason she knows she can’t escape the husband who so obviously doesn’t love her, only wanted to possess her.

A chill runs down my spine when I think of how many women are probably out there with this same issue. Hard hitting and never one to back away from dealing with the darker side of life, Ms. Novak shows us that there is hope, forgiveness and a chance at redemption. Ted Dixon might be dark and brooding, but he’s also kind, generous and still loves Sophia.

While I wouldn’t say this was by far my favorite of this series (When Snow Falls holds that distinction), it was one I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. It helps complete the picture Ms. Novak has created in her awesome little town.

Read Description or order Take Me Home For Christmas now!