“Gail is a Hollywood PR guru. She is so frustrated with Simon's refusal to listen to what she says that she finally drops him as a client. He goes to another firm and takes most of her clients with him, leaving her company in deep trouble. In order to save her company she goes to Sam with a plan to help them both. She'll help him repair his image and he'll come back to her firm. She comes up with a plan for him to marry a squeaky clean girl and behave himself. She doesn't expect to get roped into being that girl.
I liked both Gail and Simon. Gail is very good at what she does. Her frustration with Simon is partly because she really believes that he isn't as bad as he appears, but she can't get through to him. When she has to go to him and apologize for her actions it is very hard for her. She and Simon's manager Ian come up with a plan to salvage Simon's reputation so that he has a chance of seeing his son again. She's reluctant to play the part of his wife, but agrees that she is the safest candidate. Her problem is that she's unwillingly attracted to him and spending time as his wife is bound to cause problems. Gail grew up in a small town with her father and brother. Her mother had abandoned them when she was a child and Gail has always felt that she had to be extra good to show her dad that's she's not like her mom. Marrying Simon does not sit well with her family or friends. Gail is determined that she will help Simon and realizes that it won't happen if he stays in Hollywood. So she drags him off to her hometown of Whiskey Creek where she forces him to act like a normal person. She didn't expect to grow to care for the man behind the bad boy attitude. I loved seeing her stand up to Simon when he tried to resist her efforts to help him. She also was able to convince her family and friends that what she and Simon had was real. I liked the way that she and Simon grew closer the more time they spent in Whiskey Creek. My biggest frustration with Gail was her inability to believe that Simon's compliments to her were real and that he really wasn't just pretending. I loved her confidence in his innocence at the end and how they finally worked everything out.
Simon was a guy with a bad boy appearance but who was really a softie inside. His problems really started when he and his wife separated and then divorced. His ex was a very manipulative woman and used their son to torment Simon. The cause of the divorce and her subsequent actions sent Simon on a path to self-destruction because he couldn't cope with what was going on. He drank too much, got into fights and was generally obnoxious. He knew he was making things worse but couldn't seem to stop. Gail's directives just made him feel worse and he would behave even more badly. He hadn't been aware of the problems with her company because it was his manager who had caused them, not him. He was willing to work with her again after he hit bottom and admitted that he really did need help. He wasn't thrilled with the marriage idea but didn't have much choice. When Gail laid down the rules, such as no drinking, no infidelity, no fighting, and she wasn't going to sleep with him just because they could, he didn't think it would work. The first week or so was hell on him as he stopped drinking cold turkey and had to put up with the physical effects. As he started to sober up he realized that Gail was a lot more interesting that he had known before and that he was becoming attracted to her. He kept trying to get her to sleep with him and was surprised at her resistance. I loved seeing how his attitude got better the more time he was away from the old temptations. Their trip to Whiskey Creek started out with him miserable about it but he settled in really quickly. I really loved the way he stood up to Gail's father and brother. It was great to see how much he came to care for Gail and how he wanted to make their marriage real. I loved the ending and the way that he finally admitted what he really wanted in his life.”
“Although I was initially afraid that I wouldn't be able to connect to Gail or Simon because of their Hollywood lifestyles I was pleasantly surprised that I not only connected but became emotionally invested in their HEA.
What Worked: The cast of characters are well developed and interesting. Despite Gail's small town roots she is a smart and savvy business woman. In a business full of phony people getting to know her and her caring personality was a treat. I admired Gail almost from the start and when she thought her business was crumbling around her, her first thoughts were for her employees and how much they needed their jobs. She couldn't walk away from any of them any more than she could walk away from Simon.
Simon's struggles were not evident from the beginning. Who he appears to be is not who he actually is. When an author can take a man who appears to have very few morals, an alcohol problem and one who is an adulterer and make me care about him and root for him, she has mad writing skills.
Novak's writing flows very well throughout the book even though the plot was a fairly simple one. I was completely involved in the story, never even noticing that I was staying up way too late to finish it.
What Didn't Work: Not much, to tell the truth. Just a few minor points.
1)Novak's writes her 'villains' so that there is no mistaking that she wants the reader to hate them. No redeeming qualities and from early on we are aware that they are not going to be likable. Also one of Gail's 'friends' is written in a way that the readers are to feel sorry for her. I prefer to draw my own conclusions regarding my feelings for the characters and I don't necessarily like this high-handed approach.
2)One of Gail's friends was quite nasty about Gail's marriage to Simon yet we are to believe that she is kind-hearted and very giving. She has her own book (#3 When Summer Comes) where she will get a HEA but at this point I'm not sure I like her much.
3)Simon's way of wrapping up who posted a doctored video of him and his ex-wife was way too convenient. I would have liked to see the authorities involved especially since there was a big custody battle going on.
4)Simon's realization of love was nice and gradual but I wanted more of an epiphany (maybe with fireworks LOL).
In a Nutshell: Despite the minor issues this truly was a great book. Novak's Whiskey Creek series is my new go-to Mac n' Cheese comfort reads. If you like contemporary romance series like Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove, Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold or Robyn Carr's Virgin River you will be delighted with Whiskey Creek. Make sure you read them in order so you can get the full impact of all the gang and their personalities. It's well worth it! ”
“I loved this story. It was romantic fantasy that took me away. I enjoyed the fact that Simon was portrayed so humanly. He went from being a famous actor to regular Joe to famous actor. I believe that is a realistic portrayal. Famous people are frequently thought of as self serving and out of control. It is easy for the average person to want to believe the hype around them, regardless of truth. I have long thought it must be the most difficult life someone could choose to live. For the money and beautiful things they have, the lifestyles they are able to live, they each pay a very high price. I think it takes a very strong person to survive it. Making Gail someone who was in his circle but just an average person was believable for me. I think if the author had made the love interest a fan, someone he met in a bar, at the airport or any number of places, I would have had a hard time getting into the story. It is not to say I do not think it could happen.I just think there is less of a chance of it happening. Gail, working in L.A., knowing Simon through her job, was perfect. I think the author took care to make the story as realistic as she could. Yes, at times it did seem a bit convenient, (such as the easy acceptance of Simon). These instances, though, worked over all for me. I have lived in a small town. I have family that would put aside what they thought to give a chance. I have been in a situation where the last person I expected was the first person to respond. Finally, I have been betrayed by those close to me. All without the money or the fame. I can imagine the sad reality of what fame and money can do to family and friends. Money changes everything. Some times for the good but just as often for the bad. I think the book is a strong opening for the Whiskey Creek series, but do not see it as the author's best. It took me a bit to warm to Gail, maybe because I first saw her as cold.By the end of the book I cared more for her though she is not my favorite Whiskey Creek character. Isn't this the realistic charm of a series though? In life we all surround ourselves with family and friends we care about. The degree we care though is different for each one. The author's ability to recognize this and effectively incorporate it into the series helps the series stay interesting, strong and realistically,a fantasy that will have broad appeal. I love Whiskey Creek. I think it will appeal to new readers who are fans of the tv series, (and book series by different author), Cedar Cove. They do have much in common, though I see Whiskey Creek as being a bit fresher and more realistic of the two series.”Frances Cristina Gutierrez wrote this review Tuesday, October 1, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“3.5, actually. This wasn't my favorite - I had a tough time getting into it at the beginning (don't know why) and the characters, although at times appealing, weren't wonderful. When I look at how I felt about the novella in this series, it could be that the author just doesn't write in "my style". Also, maybe I wasn't in "the mood" .. and that's so important. ”Marie T wrote this review Monday, September 16, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I liked this book which is the first I have read by this author. ”Adair wrote this review Monday, February 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“4 STARS Gail is the owner of a PR company that handles bad boy actor, Simon O'Neal. Simon is out of control and Gail finds herself getting sucked into a Jerry Maguire situation. As Simon tries to take Gail down he learns that if he wants to gain custody of his son he will need Gail. Gail down on her luck cannot believe she will need to help Simon to help herself. As the two work together they realize the person the thought they knew was only a front and their life starts to get more complicated.
To be honest I was not sure I would if I would even like this book. I am not really into the LA and acting scene so at first was a bit leery. However, Novak's writing kept me turning the pages until I literally could not turn the pages fast enough. I love Whiskey Creek and Gail and her friends. I am ready for another book, PLEASE.”
“Gail DeMarco created a successful PR firm with many A-list clients, including Simon O'Neal,one of the most successful and gorgeous actors in Los Angeles. When she decided to cut him loose after his umpteenth self-destructive act, his business manager retaliated by taking all of her clients with him. Simon is in the middle of a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife and needs to clean up his image so he and Gail make a deal: he'll get her business back in order if she'll agree to marry him and give him instant respectability. Gail reluctantly agrees to do so to keep her staff employed and her business afloat.
I honestly thought this story might be a little on the silly side given the premise. There was absolutely nothing silly about this book with its flawed and complex characters. Simon O'Neal is so layered and has every reason to be angry given his personal circumstances but he chooses to keep them secret and takes the hits for his public venting. No one knows the underlying reasons for his behavior. Gail is extremely smart and has great instincts but is a bit naive when it comes to matters of the heart. She was raised by an overly protective father and her mother was absent so she hasn't had a lot of experience with men, even though she knows how to handle herself in the business arena.
If the characters had stayed in Los Angeles, the story probably would have been as predictable as I was fearing. However, Gail's decision to have them move to Whiskey Creek provided a much more interesting backdrop and experience. We learn more about the people in Gail's life and the influence they have on who she is. We also get to watch Gail in action as she works to bring Simon back to a healthier place physically and emotionally, putting her own feelings and heart at risk. What started as a modern marriage of convenience transitioned to something quite different and special. You cannot help but adore Gail and then fall in love with the true Simon. There are some interesting secondary characters that give the story added flavor but never seem to overwhelm the central players.
I loved this story and was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the book and its characters. I've read a couple of Novak's historical romances and was uncertain if the shift to this genre would bring me as much pleasure as those books did. This is a great start to the series and I am really looking forward to the next book's release.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)”