When Summer Comes
By Brenda Novak
Book #3 in the Whiskey Creek Series
One day, Callie Vanetta receives devastating news...She needs a liver transplant. But her doctors warn that, in her case, the chances of finding a compatible donor aren't good. Determined to spend whatever time she has left on her own terms, she keeps the diagnosis to herself and moves out to her late grandparents' farm. She's always wanted to live there. But the farm hasn't been worked in years and she begins to fear it's too much, she'll have to return to town.
One night, a stranger comes knocking at her door...He's an attractive and mysterious drifter by the name of Levi McCloud who offers to trade work for a few nights' shelter. Callie figures she doesn't have anything to lose. He needs a place to stay until he can fix his motorcycle; she needs an extra pair of hands. The arrangement seems ideal until what was supposed to be temporary starts to look more and more permanent. Then she realizes she does have something to lose — her heart. And, although he doesn't yet know it, Levi stands to lose even more.
One of the things that I love so dearly about this series is the messiness of the characters’ situations. A conflict may begin fairly simply but then wind its way naturally through all the various threads of a character’s relationships. And, they’re pretty appealing. This story is no exception. We’ve seen Callie Vanetta show up in previous stories but always on the sidelines, in the background or as a pretty quiet member of the Friday morning group that meets at Black Gold, the town’s coffee shop. Her story begins with the devastating news of her need for a liver transplant. Callie’s life span won’t go beyond the end of the summer without one and she’s determined to keep her condition a secret as long as she can to avoid being pitied. When drifter Levi McCloud shows up on her front porch in the middle of the night, severely injured, he alters the course of Callie’s life from that point on.
Levi is obviously keeping secrets so he and Callie share that between them. Her friends, particularly Kyle Houseman, who she’s had a “friends with benefits” relationship with recently, are completely in the dark about her illness. They don’t understand why she’s drawn to him, sexiness and all, and why she’s now keeping them at arm’s length. Callie has never been in a relationship where she’s been in love or been loved so Levi represents her last opportunity as she’s facing her mortality. It’s not the only reason she’s drawn to him but it’s a factor. She hires him and of course he lives with her on the farm, helping to prepare it for sale and protect her from some menacing tenants living on a neighboring property. Levi wants to keep his distance and resist his growing feelings for Callie but it’s a lost cause. Both of them find new life in each other in addition to love. It’s a compelling story of two people trying to find a way to keep living under extraordinary circumstances. You’ll need some tissues so be prepared.
Quite a few of the secondary characters appear in the story and several have subplots that are just as complicated and emotionally charged as Callie’s. They’re left unresolved, a perfect set up for the next few books. That’s great news as this series is too good to even think about establishing an end date.
I loved Callie and Levi’s story and cannot wait for the next book as each seems to just get better.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)