Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Imperfect people, imperfect pasts

Come Home to Me by Brenda Novak is not a story about beautiful people. In this sixth installment in her Whiskey Creek series, the focus is on the hell-raising Amos brothers (Aaron and Dylan) and the flawed Christiansen sisters (Presley and Cheyenne.)

Former wild child, and subsequent drug addict, Presley Christiansen, returns sans spouse with secret baby in tow to the only home she’s ever known. Her sister, Cheyenne, has made a good life for herself here with her beloved husband, Dylan Amos, the eldest of the rowdy Amos brothers.

Both families have grown to adulthood without the benefit of kind, caring, loving parents. The Amos boys, on their own under the watchful eye of Dylan, lost their mother at an early age for most of them and their father has spent the last 20 years in prison for murder. The Christiansen sisters grew up living in cheap motels or cars dragged along by their now-deceased prostitute, drug addict mother, Anita.

But Presley, too, has turned her life around. With the responsibility of a baby riding solely on her shoulders, she’s straightened up, worked hard and saved up enough money to move back to Whiskey Creek and her only relative to open her own business – a yoga and massage studio. Unfortunately, the clueless father of baby Wyatt – Aaron Amos – who was supposed to have relocated to Reno to open a satellite location of the thriving Amos automotive repair business – has come face-to-face with Presley and decided to stay in town a little longer and perhaps, rekindle their former relationship.

The Amos brothers and the Christiansen sisters are carrying around enough baggage to open a Samsonite outlet (if they could ever be enticed to unload some of it.) The decisions made in the past weren’t the best and the decisions being made in the present by these very real characters rival those for the problems they create or will in the future. We’ll have to wait for the next book in the series for some of those chickens to come home to roost! (A couple of interesting subplots are left hanging and we will have to wait for their resolution.)

If you’ve enjoyed the Whiskey Creek series up till now, you really should read Aaron and Presley’s story: previous books have alluded to these characters and their history. Characters from those previous books also make brief and incidental appearances in this one and creates a feeling of connection to this growing and familiar place, Whiskey Creek.

But this story is not a fairytale populated with perfect people. Come Home to Me is about grittier folks with problems, flaws, tough pasts, intense passions, and a doozy of a moral dilemma and decision that may put some readers off. But there is also redemption here, and that is what will keep me waiting anxiously for whatever comes next.

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