by Brenda NovakBook #1 in the Whiskey Creek series
August 28th 2012 by Mira
ARC from NetGalley
Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all — sexy and unpredictable Simon O'Neal. But Simon, who's just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self-destructing he won't listen to anything she says. She drops him from her list — and he retaliates by taking the rest of her clients with him.
Desperate to save her company, Gail has to humble herself by making a deal with Simon. The one thing he wants is custody of his son, but that's going to require a whole new image. He needs to marry some squeaky-clean girl who'll drag him off to some small, obscure place like Whiskey Creek. . .
Gail's the only one he can trust. She agrees to become his wife — reluctantly. But she isn't reluctant because he's too hard to like. It's because he's too hard not to love!
Gail's the only one he can trust. She agrees to become his wife-reluctantly. But she isn't reluctant because he's too hard to like. It's because he's too hard not to love!
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 feared. 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.