Friday, March 10, 2017

Discovering You - Brenda Novak (Mira - May 2016)

Series: Whiskey Creek (Book 10)

Can she ever trust another "bad boy"?

India Sommers once had the perfect family -- until an ex-boyfriend broke in and shot her husband. Not only did that cost her the man she loved, a respected heart surgeon and the father of her child, but she also feels responsible. Charlie died because of the people she hung out with before she had the strength to change her life.

Just after moving to Whiskey Creek with her little girl, Cassia, to start over, she's learned that her ex-boyfriend's trial ended in a hung jury. He's getting out of jail; he could try to find her again. And that's not all that scares her. She's extremely attracted to her next-door neighbor, but Rod Amos is the handsome "bad boy" type that's given her so much trouble in the past. If she got involved with him, her in-laws would sue for custody of Cassia.

India has to keep her distance from Rod -- but the more she gets to know him, the more difficult that becomes.

Good story with an excellent mix of mystery and romance. India has come to Whiskey Creek to start a new life for herself and her daughter. A year earlier, her husband had been shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend. She's suffering from some guilt because she feels partly responsible for what happened. While she is getting settled in Whiskey Creek, her in-laws are taking care of her daughter. India is worried about that also, because she feels that they are looking for any excuse to keep Cassia with them. On her way home one evening, India comes across Rod, who has just been run off the road and attacked. She stops to help him, and discovers a man who could make her forget her troubles or make them even worse.

Rod is one of the Amos brothers, notorious in Whiskey Creek for their ability to attract trouble. He's gotten into his fair share of it, and that night was no different. He had simply been trying to protect his stepsister from a drunk, who didn't appreciate the interference. He's grateful that India stopped to help. He'd noticed her when she moved in, and is intrigued by her as they talk that night. He's also attracted, but she doesn't seem to know what she wants from him.

I liked Rod. He has a reputation for trouble, but much of it stems from when he was younger and dealing (or not dealing) with turmoil in his life. He has a good job in the family auto body business, and a good relationship with his brothers. He has his own sense of honor and loyalty to those he loves. So far he has avoided any serious relationships, thanks to things that happened with his family when he was younger. Something about India brings out the protectiveness in him, and he finds himself wanting more than the casual encounters he's had with others. There is also a hint of vulnerability as he feels that he's not good enough for her.

I also liked India. She had a rough time when she was younger and made a lot of mistakes. But she pulled herself up and found a good man and a good life. She was devastated by what happened, and is still dealing with her feelings of responsibility. She is determined to avoid the kind of temptation that Rod poses, but his kindness and protectiveness, as well as the chemistry between them, makes it difficult. She's very independent and doesn't want to drag him into her troubles. However, she has no problem involving herself in his, and I loved how she was determined to help him clear his name after the fight at the beginning of the book.

I liked the development of the relationship between them. Once they got past their initial encounter and the awkwardness caused by her actions that night, a friendship began to grow. When India found out that her ex was out of jail because of a hung jury, she was afraid for her life and that of her daughter. I really liked Rod's insistence on her safety. It was fun to see them both try to resist the pull between them and fail so miserably. One of the things that I really liked was that, while the chemistry was hot, they also took the time to talk to each other. They shared the mistakes of their pasts and their fears. When India decides it's time to look for the murderer and the truth about what happened that night, Rod insists on helping. Her worry about his safety made her realize that her feelings for him were much deeper than she had expected, and increased her struggle to get past the fears that were holding her back. I liked Rod's patience as he waited for her to get past her husband's death and accept that she could love and be loved again. I also liked how Rod's love gave her the courage to stand up to her in-laws and their threats and to seize the chance for happiness.

The mystery/suspense portion of the book was also really good. I ached for India and everything she had been through since the death of her husband. Her fear when Sebastian was released was deep and believable. I liked how her growing feelings for Rod gave her the motivation to try to find the information needed to re-try Sebastian, though her decision to do it alone wasn't particularly smart. Rod's involvement was not a surprise, but the lengths he went to had me on the edge of my seat at times, waiting for something to go wrong. The final confrontation was intense. I liked that India took an active part in it. The resolution was really satisfying.

There was also a secondary story involving Rod's brother Mack and their stepsister Natasha. There's definitely something going on there, but Mack is fighting it for all he's worth. He feels that it just isn't right for him to feel this way about his "sister". Natasha, on the other hand, knows exactly how she feels and what she wants and isn't shy about going after it. I liked that Mack was trying to do the right thing and encouraging her to get her education, but he made a few mistakes along the way, that caused unnecessary hurt for her. There was some promising progress by the end of the book. As Mack and Grady still don't have books of their own, I'm hoping that there are still some Whiskey Creek stories to come.

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