A Winter Wedding
By Brenda Novak
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Lourdes Bennett was a rising star in country music just a short time ago, but her decision to make a pop album sent her career in a downward spin that has left her worried that she’s finished. As if that were not enough, she is fairly certain that her manager fiancé is cheating with the younger woman who has replaced her as the next big thing. In need of a quiet refuge to write songs for a new album she hopes will restart her career and to make some decisions about her personal life, she rents a farmhouse outside Whiskey Creek, a farmhouse owned by Kyle Houseman.
When the heating in the farmhouse malfunctions, Kyle invites his famous tenant to take sanctuary in his spare bedroom until he can have the heating repaired. As these two very different people spend time together, they find a friend in each other. They confide in each other about their mistakes and the consequences and discover they are remarkably simpatico. Neither is looking for romance, but the chemistry between them makes it difficult to keep their relationship platonic. Kyle’s tight circle of friends, including Olivia and Brandon, like Lourdes and welcome her to the group. They would like nothing better than to see these two together. But Noelle is skilled at complications and manipulations, and Lourdes still has her manager fiancé and her career that require attention. Can these two overcome all these obstacles and make their way to an HEA of their own.
Brenda Novak began her Whiskey Creek series in the summer of 2012 with When We Touch, a novella featuring Olivia and Brandon, with Kyle’s betrayal of Olivia and his wedding to Noelle as backdrop. I wrote in my review of When We Touch:
Noelle is a one-dimensional bitch who is easy to hate. . . . Kyle is more interesting, a guy who made a stupid mistake and is paying the price of marriage and shared parenthood with a woman he doesn’t even like very much. Neither does his family or friends. Interesting possibilities there, so maybe we’ll see more of Kyle in other Whiskey Creek books.
It has been interesting to see Kyle in the rest of the series, suffering in various ways for his mistake and growing in the process. He completely won me over with his compassion for Phoenix Fuller in This Heart of Mine (Whiskey Creek 3). I thought Novak did an excellent job of showing him in his book as the same person, still capable of being victimized by Noelle who is as self-absorbed and manipulative as ever, but overall, wiser, more mature, and more likeable. I found Lourdes an immensely likeable character, and I was glad to see Kyle let go of Olivia and accept her fully as his friend and Brandon’s wife. I especially appreciated the slow build of the relationship between Kyle and Lourdes and the way their HEA was achieved.
With Novak committed two other series, Fairham Island and Hanover House, this generally excellent small-town series may be winding down, although there will be at least one more book (Discovering You, May 24, 2016). I applaud Novak for the risks she has taken that has set the Whiskey Creek books apart from predictable small-town series, and I recommend this book. With a wedding, a new baby, the reaffirmation of the bonds of friendship, and one more heartwarming HEA, The Winter Wedding has everything needed to win the hearts of readers who love small-town contemporary romance stories.