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Come Home to Me

Come Home to Me

4.1 101
by Brenda Novak
     
 

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www.BrendaNovak.com

Home is where her heart is 

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

Overview

www.BrendaNovak.com

Home is where her heart is 

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.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
04/15/2014
After abruptly leaving town two years before, Presley Christensen has revamped her life and come home to Whiskey Creek as a yoga instructor and massage therapist, determined to give her young son, Wyatt, a better childhood than she'd had. The draw is her sister; the danger is auto-body shop partner Aaron Amos, her old love—and Wyatt's father, a secret she intends to keep. It should be easy to do with Aaron planning to open a branch of the family business in Reno. Yet, considering that sparks still sizzle between them and they've both grown up a bit, maybe something more was meant to happen. Familiar characters reappear, fresh ones come on the scene, and new challenges arise, sowing tantalizing seeds for future books in the series. VERDICT Once again Novak's Whiskey Creek springs to life in all its realistic, gritty Gold Country glory as two determined, likable people come to terms with their pasts and give love a chance. This poignant, heartfelt romance puts a refreshing spin on the classic reunion/secret baby theme. Novak (Take Me Home for Christmas) lives in California.
From the Publisher
"This poignant, heartfelt romance puts a refreshing spin on the classic reunion/secret baby theme." —Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781460328569
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
03/25/2014
Series:
Whiskey Creek Series , #6
Sold by:
HARLEQUIN
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
15,229
File size:
420 KB

Read an Excerpt


Aaron Amos was in the bookstore, too. Presley Christensen could tell by the prickle that skittered up her spine. Maybe she'd subconsciously recognized his voice amid the babble of the others, or there really was such a thing as a sixth sense, because when she turned and glanced across the crowded room, she confirmed what her body had already told her. He was standing off to one side, looking right at her.

It'd been two years since she'd seen him, and almost the same length of time since she'd shared his bed. But it felt like much longer. Her pregnancy and the first eighteen months of her son's life had been hard, harder than anything that had come before—which was saying something for a girl who'd lived out of a car or a motel for most of her childhood.

Although she'd known when she decided to return to Whiskey Creek that she might bump into Aaron, and had tried to prepare herself for that moment, her eyes locked with his as if he held a high-powered magnet that drew them there against her will. Then it was all she could do not to stumble back; the sight of him hit her like a blow to the chest.

Damn it! Her reaction—the way her breath jammed in her throat and her stomach knotted—was ridiculous. Why couldn't she get over him?

Gritting her teeth, she jerked her gaze away and slipped behind the people standing in line to get Ted Dixon's autograph. She was a big fan of Ted's work. Once she'd moved to Fresno to start over, his thrillers, along with a lot of other novels, had helped keep her mind occupied so she wouldn't fall back into her previous lifestyle. And after she found work at the Helping Hands Thrift Store, which was the best job she could land with so little education, books—secondhand, mostly—had provided the only entertainment she could afford. They'd especially been a blessing after Wyatt was born and she was up walking the floor so often with a colicky baby.

Still, Ted was local. It wasn't as if she wouldn't have another chance to see him. She'd wanted to come but probably wouldn't have if not for the urging of her sister. Cheyenne had insisted on watching Wyatt so Presley could get out for a few hours. She said it was important for her to take a break. And Presley was grateful. After the effort she'd put into cleaning her small rental house, getting settled and finding the perfect retail space to lease for her new yoga studio, she'd been eager for the chance to clean up and feel like something other than a mom.

But that was when she'd believed, as Cheyenne and Cheyenne's husband, Dylan, had believed, that Aaron would be a hundred and forty miles to the northeast. He planned to branch off on his own and open a franchise of Amos Auto Body, the collision repair shop he owned with Dylan and his other brothers. According to Cheyenne, he'd been spending a great deal of time in Reno looking for the best location.

"Excuse me." She pressed against the closest bookshelves in an attempt to squeeze past two men who were deep in conversation.

"Presley!"

She'd been so intent on her escape that she hadn't even looked up, but this caught her attention. Kyle and Riley, two of her sister's closest friends, were standing there. Ted Dixon, the author, belonged to their clique, so it was no surprise to see them here. If she searched hard enough, she'd likely find a handful of the others who'd hung out with Ted since kindergarten.

"Hello." She managed a smile, although her heart was pounding. Was Aaron, at this very instant, threading his way through the people standing between them?

There wasn't any reason he should feel uncomfortable approaching her. Maybe they hadn't kept in touch while she was gone, but there'd been no expectations along those lines. Their former relationship hadn't involved any commitment or obligation. They'd partied a great deal, and they'd had the hottest sex she'd ever experienced, but as far as he was concerned it was all in fun. They hadn't even had a fight when she left. The death of her mother and the knowledge of her pregnancy had set her off on a self-destructive odyssey that led her to an abortion clinic in Arizona. She'd felt sure that ending her pregnancy was what Aaron would want if he knew about it, which was why, when she decided to keep the baby, she didn't feel she owed him anything, even notice that Wyatt was his.

"Chey told me you were moving back," Kyle said. "How long have you been in town?"

She checked behind her, but at only five feet two inches tall she couldn't see over the people surrounding her—and it was so packed she couldn't see through them, either. "Just a couple of weeks." She paused to be polite, but she wasn't about to hang out and talk for more than a quick second, not with Aaron ten feet away and possibly closing the distance between them. Unfortunately, she couldn't leave. Ted had already signed and personalized her book, and there was a huge line at the register.

Riley spoke before she could actually say the goodbye that hovered on her lips.

"It's great to have you home. You look amazing, by the way." He gave her a low whistle. "Must be all that yoga."

Presley felt too anxious to enjoy the compliment—or to tell them that yoga had done a lot more for her than help her get into shape. That would prove to be too long a discussion. "Have you ever been to a class?" she asked instead.

Kyle and Riley exchanged a look. "Can't say I have," Riley drawled with a smile that told her he probably wouldn't, either.

"Once I get the studio open, you'll have to give it a try," she said.

"If you'll be there, I'll do it," Kyle volunteered.

Presley hadn't expected either of them to flirt with her. When she'd lived here before, she'd always had the feeling that they considered themselves too good for her. They'd been popular and well-adjusted from the beginning; she'd been a lost and lonely outcast who'd made some very poor choices. She might've been flattered at how her reception had changed, but she was too worried that she was about to be confronted by Aaron. She didn't want to speak to him. It made no difference how many times she told herself that he wasn't the right man for her, that their relationship had been unbalanced and unhealthy; she couldn't stop longing for his smile, his laugh, his touch.

Not that the difficulty of getting over him should have come as any surprise. Her whole life had been a series of struggles.

"Great. I should be open for business in another week." She had to open soon. She couldn't go without income for much longer. "See you there."

She could feel their eyes on her as she moved away, could tell they were startled she'd brushed them off. But with Aaron in the room…all she wanted to do was melt into the background. Just the sight of his perfectly sculpted face, which was almost too pretty despite the scar he'd gotten in a fight, was enough to drag her to a place of weakness and craving.

He was like the crack cocaine that'd taken control of her life before. She had to avoid him as avidly as all the other things that had nearly destroyed her.

It wasn't until she stepped through the curtain and into the dark storeroom where Angelica Hansen, owner of Turn the Page, received her inventory that Presley relaxed. She'd reached safety, a hidden corner where he'd be unlikely to look for her. Once Aaron left, she'd pay for her book and get out of there.

But when she turned, intending to peek out at those in the front of the store, she collided with his hard, unyielding chest as he came through the curtain.

He grabbed her before she could fall over the stack of books at her feet, drawing her up against him. "What are you doing back here?"

Breaking his hold before the smell or feel of him could erode her resolve, Presley stumbled, which sent the books flying. She was lucky they didn't trip her as they almost had before. "I…needed room to breathe. It's so…crowded out there. I thought I'd wait here for a few minutes, until the line was shorter."

His eyes narrowed slightly at the way she'd scrambled out of reach so quickly. Or maybe it was her reason for seeking the storeroom that gave him pause. Did he think she was trying to steal Ted's book?

Or had he figured out the truth? He'd always been perceptive—too quick-witted for his own good…and hers. He was the sensitive Amos brother, the one who'd taken the loss of his mother and everything that'd happened after her suicide the hardest. But he didn't comment on the fact that she was still backing away.

"I heard you moved into the old Mullins place two weeks ago," he said.

She had to tilt her head to look into his face. "I did."

"Then…where have you been?"

Was he asking why she hadn't contacted him? "I've been busy."

"That means you're never home?"

Her stomach muscles tightened again. "You've dropped by?"

"I didn't bother to knock. I never see a car in the carport."

"I don't have a car anymore." She'd sold her new Hyundai several months ago so she could get out from under the payments and save enough to be able to lease a studio. She would've stayed in Fresno and kept saving to give herself a bigger financial cushion—would've opened her studio there, too—but when she found some strange marks on Wyatt, she was afraid his home day-care provider was mistreating him and decided to return to Whiskey Creek. Her sister had offered to help with child care, and once Aaron had told Cheyenne and Dylan he was relocating, going home was finally a possibility.

He hesitated. "How do you get around without a car?"

"For the most part, I walk." Chey's house was down the street and around the corner from hers. Her studio was two blocks in the other direction, along with the rest of downtown, making it easy to get wherever she needed to go.

"The exercise has obviously been good for you."

She wished that compliment didn't evoke the pleasure it did. But during the past two years, she'd judged everything by how much he'd like what she was doing, how she was changing herself. She supposed the desire to finally be admired by him was too powerful to overcome. "The owner of the thrift shop where I worked introduced me to yoga. That made the difference, more than anything else."

"Flexible and toned." His teeth flashed in an appreciative smile. "You look better than ever."

"Thanks." There were other things to explain the physical improvements—like her strict eating habits—but she didn't want to engage him in any more conversation than she already had. He wouldn't care what she was doing with her life—not after he realized they weren't going to pick up where they'd left off and fall into bed.

"How have you been?" he asked. "It's been a long time."

And she'd felt every painstaking minute of it. She couldn't count how often she'd almost broken down and called him. Only the risk that he might find out he was Wyatt's father stopped her.

"Fine." She wiped sweaty palms on her jeans.

"You?"

"Hangin' in."

He seemed to be faring well. He'd put on a few pounds, nicely filling out his large frame, which he'd needed to do. He'd been muscular but too wiry that last year when they'd been seeing each other. According to Cheyenne and Dylan, he'd also quit using drugs. Now that she had the chance to see him, she believed it.

"Good," she said. "I—I'm glad to hear it." She wished he'd leave it at that, but he didn't move out of the doorway, and she couldn't go anywhere while he was blocking her in.

"I was shocked to hear that you rented the Mullins cottage. That place was a cesspool when they lived there." He grimaced. "Talk about trashy people."

"It's taken some serious work to make it livable." She'd rented the two-bedroom because it was cheap and centrally located. Fortunately, where the house was concerned, a little elbow grease could make a big difference. "It's clean now. I just have a few things still to do."

"Like what?"

"Paint the porch and fix the fence. Plant some flowers out front."

He hooked his thumbs in his pockets. "Flowers?"

"Anything wrong with flowers?"

"Sounds like you're planning to stay for a while."

"I am."

"You weren't that domestic when you left."

She hadn't had a child then, but she didn't want to draw his attention to that, since he didn't know he was the one who'd made her a mother. "It's tough to be too focused on everyday concerns when all you care about is getting high."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." He rubbed his jaw. "I take it you've changed."

"Completely."

"I can see that."

No, he couldn't. Not yet. He assumed the changes were superficial, that she'd eventually fall at his feet the way she had before.

"I would've helped you clean up the rental," he said. "You should've called me."

She cleared her throat. "It wasn't necessary. I managed."

His eyes became guarded and inscrutable. He was figuring out that the "changes" he'd noticed included an unwillingness to associate with him. "Couldn't have been easy to get all that done, not with a baby."

Tentacles of fear slithered around her heart and squeezed. This was his first mention of Wyatt. She had to be careful, had to handle his perceptions carefully from the start. Any hint of suspicion on his part could destroy her happiness. "No, but I could've had Wyatt's father come and help. He would have, if I'd needed him."

"Doesn't he live in Arizona?"

Cheyenne had supplied everyone with this information, even Dylan. "He does, but he could come here. He has money, and he cares about Wyatt."

"You're in touch with him, then? He's a stand-up guy?" He sounded hopeful, as if he wanted that for her. There was no reason he wouldn't. To her knowledge, he'd never wished her ill, never done anything purposely to hurt her. He'd been too self-absorbed, but that was simply a byproduct of the fact that he'd never really cared about her, not like she'd cared about him.

"We don't have a relationship beyond Wyatt," she said, "but…he's a great father."

"That's got to make a big difference."

If Wyatt's father helped out to any significant degree, she wouldn't have had to clean the worst property in town in order to have a place to live but, thankfully, Aaron didn't seem to make the connection. "It does," she said. "And soon I'll be earning good money myself."

"As a yoga instructor, right?"

"And a massage therapist," she added so no one would be surprised when she advertised her services. She wanted everyone to understand from the beginning that she'd be doing both. She needed all the legitimacy she could establish.

"How'd you get into that?"

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

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Come Home to Me 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 101 reviews.
LisaGuertin More than 1 year ago
I loved Presley & Aaron's story. Presley is an amazing heroine, overcoming terrible odds to make something of herself, in spite of her family history. I wanted to knock some sense into Aaron several times, but he redeemed himself in the end. Of course, their family contributed quite a bit to their problems. I found this to be another strong addition to the Whiskey Creek series and highly recommend it.
becx More than 1 year ago
I was given the opportunity to read and review “Come Home to Me” by Brenda Novak. I love Brenda’s Whiskey Creek series and I was excited to revisit my favorite couple, Cheyenne and Dylan. I loved their story in “When Snow Falls”. I liked getting to know more about Presley and Aaron’s relationship as well. I loved how two people with troubled pasts were able to turn their lives around. I didn’t get why Presley couldn’t seem to understand that if she could turn her life around so could Aaron. I love this series, but this book enraged me so much. I was so excited to read more about Cheyenne and Dylan but Cheyenne’s scheme was too much for me. I wanted to reach into the story and slap her and everyone involved. Grrrrr… why would anyone think such a scheme would be okay?? Yes, I am being purposefully vague so I don’t ruin it for others. I just can’t believe she would think up something all in the name of ‘making Dylan happy’. Whatever! You don’t do something like that to make your loving husband happy WITHOUT TALKING TO HIM ABOUT IT!!!!! It all felt way to soap operaish for my liking and even worse it took away from Presley and Aaron’s story. I give “Come Home to Me” 2/5 stars. I really love this series and those Amos brothers...sigh  This book just irked me too much, mainly Cheyenne. I hope if this scheme of Cheyenne’s is mentioned in future books that it comes back to bite her. I would expect Dylan to react in a normal pissed off way, as he would have a right to. I think if Brenda went that path with this storyline it would add some conflict and intensity to their relationship and make them worth fighting for. I almost wish I hadn’t read this book because like I said, Cheyenne was one of my favorites and then she up and did what she did and it just made me lose all respect for her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Let me preface this by saying I LOVE Brenda Novak. She's an automatic buy for me. However.....I couldn't make myself finish this book. I skipped to the end to see if Presley & Aaron got their happily ever after then I closed it. Why did I close it? Because of the Cheyenne/Dylan/Aaron subplot. That bothered me a lot on a moral level and I have no idea how this won't manage to blow up in Cheyenne's face. I can't give this book any more than a 2.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been on a Brenda Novak reading binge!  I have read both the Whiskey Creek and Dundee series over the past few months and LOVED them all.  I had been looking forward to Come Home to Me and read it as soon as it came out.  I am going to limit the details to why I did not like this book as much as the others as I HATE those that ruin the plot for me in a review.  I was extremely disappointed with the Cheyenne/Dylan subplot.  It was not needed and made NO sense.  The entire subplot was cheesy and made me feel like it was filler content!  I agree with another reviewer that the subplot felt like you were reading a bad soap opera script!  I kept waiting for the subplot to turn around but it never did.  This is not what I expected after reading the other Brenda Novak books.  I was mainly disappointed because all the other female leads Brenda Novak writes about are independent and strong women.  The subplot did not fit this model.  The Preseley/Aaron main story was very enjoyable.      
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brenda Novak always stirs the pot, and Come Home to Me does it in spades. I'm a FAN of honesty and integrity and I'm afraid that some actions taken by the characters profiled in this 6th book of the Whiskey Creek series just weren't honest with each other! This is Presley and Aaron's book. Presley left for parts unknown, pregnant with Aaron's child. Aaron didn't have a clue and continued to be pretty clueless until it was pointed out to him that Presley's baby looked like HIM. I enjoyed this portion of the book and the ups and downs that Presley and Aaron went through until they figured each other out. It was refreshing to see that both Presley and Aaron had turned a corner and now are upstanding citizens. My biggest problem with the book was the subplot about Cheyenne. I'm kind of disappointed in her and the way she involved Presley and Aaron in her scheme. No spoilers...but I just thought she didn't do Dylan right. I hope this 'problem' gets some resolution in the next Whiskey Creek book! I will continue to read Ms. Novak's books. I enjoy her writing style and although sometimes I'm at odds with some of the actions of her characters, she still tackles some of the hard questions and gives them a good spin!
Peachey04 More than 1 year ago
Another great book from Whiskey Creek as only Brenda Novak can tell it. This is an incredibly well written story of second chances and how difficult the road back can be. Aaron and Presley's feelings at the start were one sided. Years later there is still an attraction but insecurities and a hidden secret keep them at arms length. The characters are well rounded and their interactions keep the story balanced from start to finish. I look forward to traveling back to Whiskey Creek and seeing what this author has in store. Gifted a copy for review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Brenda Novak did it again!!! This time Aaron and Presley got their happy ending!! It may seem strange but I loved watching the struggle that Presley had with keeping her secret. Though it worked out in the end! I couldn't put the book down! Although I understood WHY Aaron did what he did for Chey....I have a feeling that this secret is not going to end well....which makes me sad. I am interested in seeing what comes next with the series. Riley, Eve, the other Amos boys and their step mom...(tho I am suspicious of her!!) Thank you for giving me a chance to read this in advance!!
Marhull More than 1 year ago
Come Home to Me is one of the best in this series of books. I was wondering what would become of Aaron & Presley's relationship. The Amoses are an interesting family and I hope we'll see more of them in future iterations.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book ruined the series for me. Cheyenne went from being a character I liked to my least favorite. The relationship between Presley and Riley was just odd.
rvingmillers More than 1 year ago
Was happy with Presley and Aaron's story.  Great series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with a lot of other reviews for this book. It is totally assanine , the story between cheyenne and Dylan and Aaron and I do not want to finish this book because of it. What a complete let down I expect more from a Brenda Novack book, she generally has a really great grasp of her characters personalities. This plot was just a slap in the face to the truthful and strong character she built of cheyenne, her storyline is so unbelievable its sickening. I am very sorry I wasted good money for it!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
. "I have you now Goldenstar," Shadowstar hissed, curling his tail around Lilywolf again. "Don't you get it? You are meant to be miserable Goldenstar. No matter what you do, how far you get, or what people you deceive into loving you," he continued as he pulled Lilywolf closer who gladly welcomed his presence and nuzzled his side, "Your true destiny will always catch up to you. Or should I say, I will always catch up to you. I was put her to destroy you Goldenstar, and destroy you I shall." Goldenstar was struck silent as he watched his mate with a completely destroyed spirit. "Lilywolf please," he whimpered, daring a step closer. The kindness in her gaze suddenly turned to hatred and she raked a set of claws down either of his shoulders before pressing back to Shadowstar. Realizing his mistake, Goldenstar jumped back. He looked at Shadowstar in defeat, realizing that as long as Lilywolf was against him his words were true. This was different than the times before when he'd had to save Lilywolf. It would be impossible to save her from something she wanted when she now shared Shadowstars hate for him. ~Goldenstar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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ReneeEntress More than 1 year ago
4.7 Star Review - Come Home To Me Presley is back in Whiskey Creek. She has a son and is opening a business. She is finally getting her life together. Aaron sent Presley on her way a few years ago and needs to apologize about how he did it. He knew that Presley loved him but he pushed her away when she needed him the most. Presley has never been able to get over Aaron. Can she live in the same town and see him all the time without being with him? As she dates another man a secret comes out she has keeping for a long time. Will that help her stay away from Aaron or will that keep him even closer? Can they survive a relationship? Is it even worth the time to try as Aaron is leaving town anyway....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The books are great, but out of all my favorite os still Dylan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book and plan on reading more by brenda
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After having left Whiskey Creek with not a very pristine reputation, when Presley comes back to Whiskey Creek after being gone for two years to start afresh and set up a new business venture with a small son, you'll become absolutely riveted to this 6th Volume of her Whiskey Creek Series. I had tears in my eyes at the somewhat unexpected ending; whether it be good or bad, I'll not say as that would ruin this newest novel from Ms. Novaks Whiskey Creek Series. However, I can't wait until Volume 7 of this series "The Heart of Christmas" is available on October 28th!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story structure, interesting characters (I wanted to know about everyone but the two main people), had good bones but the two main characters had issues. We all do but seriously. He was so selfish he had me shaking my head thru the whole thing. The woman was so weak I wanted to shake her silly. I don't normally give reviews just because I usually get something out of a book. This one just left me very disappointed in both characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Brenda Novaks books and as usual, this book was very well written. Unfortunately, like another reviewer, I too was very disappointed in the plot line that involved previous characters Dylan and Cheyenne. To have such a great character like Cheyenne resort to such a huge deception to her husband really ruined the book for me. I stopped reading and skimmed the rest just to find out what happens to the main characters Presely and Aaron. The secondary plot line with Dyland and Chey just didn't fit their characters and was very disappointing. I look forward to the next book in the series though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was well written. I enjoyed the story very much. The two main characteries first showed up in Brenda Novak book When the Snow Comes. She this story from there. The feelings that each had for each other where still every much their. You chould feel the hurts and joys as they where happening throught out the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hated the way Aaron was treated as not good enough for Presley in this book. Multiple people compared him to Riley and found him lacking. Hello Riley has a nutcase ex that could get out of prison anytime and go after his current lady yet he's good for her. The whole deal withCheyenne was just sick, he's good enough for that but not good enoughfor Pres
Pebbles92 More than 1 year ago
Having enjoyed Ms. Novak's historicals for many years, I have recently come over to the contemporary side and have found myself enjoying the Whiskey Creek series immensely.  While I certainly don't agree with some of the decisions made by characters in this story, it was beautifully well-written and certainly tugged at my heart. It captivated me right from start to finish and I completed it in no time at all.  All in all I think this is a great addition to this series and I cannot wait to read what happens next.  I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.