Author: Brenda Novak

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak | Mini Book Review

Posted December 26, 2014 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak | Mini Book ReviewThe Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
Series: Whiskey Creek #7
Published by Mira on October 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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2 Stars
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!

 

The Heart of Christmas was my first experience with the Whiskey Creek series by Brenda Novak, and I was happy to see that it read as a standalone. I’m intrigued by the stories of some of the other characters in this book, though, so I’m definitely going to look in to the rest of the series! I’m very mixed on my review of this book, so it has been hard to gather my thoughts together in a way that makes sense to me.

I’m a huge fan of small towns where everyone knows everyone, and you feel safe and loved. That’s exactly what the town of Whiskey Creek is like. And that aspect of the book is one of the few things I actually liked, sadly. I loved the atmosphere. I loved the Victorian Christmas at Eve’s B&B. But I did not love Eve. I can relate to her. I’m still single, the last single of my group of friends actually. It’s hard. But I don’t make bad decisions as a result, and I’ve never been excited about romances that bloom from drunken one night stands. I felt like I lost respect for both characters before I even got to know them. Of course, this opinion is obviously based on a personal set of morals and so I tried to not let my feelings taint my thoughts on the book. But… the fact that things escalated from a regretted one night stand to a slight tolerance on both their parts to a lustful friends with benefits, no strings attached thing to MY LIFE IS ALL ABOUT YOU so quickly I just had a hard time believing it. As such, the chemistry was not convincing and I didn’t really care if Eve and Rex ended up together or not.

Rex’s dark, mysterious past seemed too far-fetched. And the semi-mystery/suspense that resulted from it just did not work for me at all. I can see why the author chose to do this, but I felt like it turned the book into a story you would find in an over the top action movie. The ending itself was unsatisfying because the loose ends are not all tied up, and you’re left with a few questions.

Basically, I was disappointed. Perhaps if I were a long-time lover of Whiskey Creek I might have ended up loving this book. While it did read as a standalone, I did not come into it with the love of the series that many people probably did. Maybe this was not the best book to start out the series with, as I’ve heard it’s not as good as some of the earlier titles. I’ve liked Brenda Novak’s historicals, so I’m going to give this series another shot.


The Bastard/Honor Bound, by Brenda Novak (Book Review)

Posted November 18, 2011 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

The Bastard/Honor Bound, by Brenda Novak (Book Review)Honor Bound by Brenda Novak
Published by Self on October 23, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 374
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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4 Stars
Note: This story was previously titled The Bastard

To some men honor is just a word...

Jeannette Boucher, a young French beauty from a family left penniless by the revolution, must marry against her will to save them all from ruin. But almost immediately after the vows are spoken, she learns that her old English husband is impotent—and in his desire for an heir, he plans to compromise her in the worst way. Determined to escape such a fate, she stows away on one of His Majesty’s frigates. But a woman alone is in constant danger.

To Lieutenant Treynor, honor means everything...

Born a bastard to a wayward marquise, Lieutenant Crawford Treynor was given to a poor farmer to raise and was maltreated until he ran away to join the Royal Navy. Treynor is determined to prove he’s as good as any other man and rise to captain his own frigate. But once he finds Jeannette aboard The Tempest he must decide whether to return her to the man he knows would abuse her—or risk everything, even his life, to keep her safe.'(

The story was exciting! We enter the story right as Jeanette is marrying this ugly old man that she is really rather repulsed by. She’s doing it to help her family, though. By marrying him, her family will want for nothing, but she will always want true love! While awaiting her new husband’s arrival to their bedroom, her brother barges in with some scary news. Her husband is impotent, and plans to have his male friends sleep with her to get her pregnant so he can have an heir. Jeanette decides to flee. When she discovers a Royal Navy ship in port that will be leaving for London soon, she decides to pose as a thirteen-year-old boy and sign on as one of the crew. In doing so, she runs into some dangerous situations. Lieutenant Treynor figures out her secret, and takes care of her until they can get her back on dry land. Of course, love happens… along with some adventure.

I really enjoyed this story. I appreciated the fact that, as far as romance novels go, this one was a little on the tamer side. It’s definitely not a book for youth, as steam happens, but there’s not a ton of time or pages devoted to it. It’s very easy to skip if you’re so inclined.

Jeanette is one of those characters that easy to not really know how you feel about her. Do I like her? Do I not like her? There’s a fine line between the two in this book. At times, I really liked her. I mean, she had self-esteem. She knew she did not deserve the life her husband was going to give her. She had a sense of honor because she married him to help her family. She was brave posing as a boy and becoming part of the crew. She had a certain level of values, and was very ladylike. However… so many of the times she was in danger were because she was an idiot. She kept doing things she was told not to do, thereby putting herself and Treynor in danger. It happened all the time. I can’t stand heroines who lack common sense.

How could anyone not like Lieutenant Treynor? He’s described as being nothing short of a Greek god. He came from a very difficult background and ran away to join the Royal Navy at a very young age. He climbed the ranks, and gained a ton of respect from the people he works with. He has an incredible sense of duty and does everything he can to protect Jeanette in secret, as well as do his job. He respects women. At one point, Jeanette gt a little tipsy drinking rum with the boys one night, and tried to seduce him. He sent her away because he felt wrong taking advantage of her current state of mind. He never forced himself on her. He is compassionate. Even when he thought she was a boy, he protected this young thing and took “him” under his wing. He’s also very gentlemanly and well-spoken. I really liked him. Definitely one of my favorite males in romance, and the very best part of this book.

The supporting characters were great. There were not too many to keep track of, but enough to convince you that the ship was full of a crew that mattered. We even have a villain, as pretty much all books do. He bugged me, but he was supposed to! I found myself enjoying the company of many of the characters. I’m not used to that, but I suppose it’s because these were Navy men and not ruthless, cold-hearted pirates.

I loved the descriptions. I could picture the wedding, the town, the port area (with taverns and seedy inns), the ship, the ocean, all the different cabins and rooms on board, etc. I could picture the crew doing tasks that I’ve never seen done before. I pictured everything wonderfully. I understood everything, and even learned a little about what went on aboard ships in days gone by, not to mention French and British history.

I’m not used to books of this genre covering so much adventure. Many authors could have turned this in to two books. I loved how fast-paced it was. Just as I thought we were winding down, ready to tie everything up into a nice bow, something crazy happened. AND every loose end imaginable was tied up. I was not left really wanting anything. I was happy with the ending.

I’d recommend this book to people who love romance on the high seas, adventure, strong male leads, likeable heroines, interesting and amusing supporting characters, and happy endings.

I’ll definitely be looking into more of Novak’s books. I hear she writes a lot of romantic suspense, which is another favorite genre of mine. Happy reading!

(Notes for those concerned about sensitive content: (Some may consider these spoilers, so be careful in reading.)
– Foreplay happens, but the actual act of sex never does.
– Any steamy scenes are kept to a paragraph or two (with the exception of maybe one).
– There is a rape attempt at Jeanette by someone on the opposing side of the war. Nobody on her ship’s crew is involved with that.
– There is war violence. People die.

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