Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Review: Take Me Home for Christmas by Brenda Novak

Christmas is a time for remembering….

Too bad all memories aren't pleasant. Everyone in Whiskey Creek remembers Sophia DeBussi as the town's Mean Girl. Especially Ted Dixon, whose love she once scorned.

But Sophia has paid the price for her youthful transgressions. The man she did marry was rich and powerful but abusive. So when he goes missing, she secretly hopes he'll never come back—until she learns that he died running from an FBI probe of his investment firm. Not only has he left Sophia penniless, he's left her to face all the townspeople he cheated….

Sophia is reduced to looking for any kind of work to pay the bills and support her daughter. With no other options, she becomes housekeeper for none other than Ted, now a successful suspense writer. He can't bring himself to turn his back on her, not at Christmas, but he refuses to get emotionally involved. He learned his lesson the last time.

Or will the season of love and forgiveness give them both another chance at happiness?

Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Harlequin MIRA
Terri's Thoughts:
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Right from the start this story proved that it would not be the typical story following the typical formula that I have come to expect from many Harlequin novels.  This story had real drama, with real issues, real emotions and flawed characters.  As I have not read any of Novak's work before I am ashamed to admit that I has originally chosen to read this as I thought it would be a nice, light holiday read.  Fortunately I read it after the holiday's so I was not disappointed that this story had more depth than I was expecting.  If the rest of the Whiskey Creek series follows the same formula as this story then I will need to add them to my to read list.
This story deals with some serious topics such as spousal abuse, alcoholism and bullying.  Along with this it deals with some serious emotions and forgiveness.  I was drawn to both Sophia and Ted from the beginning and the story that split them apart and then started to bring them back together in the pages of this read.  There were more dark moments within these pages than there were light moments however I felt that this made the storyline more realistic.  I enjoyed reading Sophia's journey as she grew stronger and began to learn to stand on her own two feet.
I did have a hard time with some of the discussions that occurred with the secondary characters.  I felt that there were back stories that I was not aware of however considering this is the fifth book in a series I am assuming that those who have read the first four books would easily be able to follow along.  Although confused with these parts it did raise my curiosity regarding Ted's group of friends and I want to read the series to see if it sheds some light on it for me.
Overall I was impressed with this book.  I received this after Christmas so I was actually not looking forward to reading another Christmas read however this book surprised me.  I liked that it strayed from the usual formulas that I have become familiar with.  That being said I do have to admit that I have to reduce my rating of this story for the same reason that I enjoyed it. This would have been a solid 4 star rating however I have given it a 3 star rating as it is not quite what is advertised.  The title of the novel is Take Me Home For Christmas and this story except for a tiny part has nothing to do with Christmas.  In fact I read it on my Kindle and the first mention of Christmas occurred when I was at 84% completion.  Give this story any other name by taking out the Christmas reference and it would be a true representation of the story.  As I have been hard on other stories that were not as advertised I have to be fair and do the same with this.  I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading this as it was a very good read, just not a Christmas read. 
About the Author

It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s bestselling author career.

“I caught my day-care provider drugging my children with cough syrup and Tylenol to get them to sleep while I was away,” Brenda says. “It was then that I decided that I needed to do something from home.”

However, writing was the last profession she expected to undertake. In fact, Brenda swears she didn’t have a creative bone in her body. In school, math and science were her best subjects, and when it came time to pick a major in college, she chose business.

Abandoning her academic scholarship to Brigham Young University at the age of 20 in order to get married and start a family, Brenda dabbled in commercial real estate, then became a loan officer.

“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda admits. “I learned how to write by reading what others have written. The best advice for any would-be author: read, read, read….”

Brenda sold her first book, and the rest is history. Many of her novels have won or placed in contests such as the National Reader's Choice, the Bookseller's Best, the Write Touch, the Award of Excellence and the Beacon Award for Published Authors.

Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are the proud parents of five children—three girls and two boys. She juggles her writing career with her children’s softball and soccer games, field trips, carpool runs and homework sessions.

When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually working on her annual fundraiser for diabetes research—an on-line auction held at her website May 1st – May 31st. Her youngest son, Thad, has diabetes, and Brenda is determined to help him and others like him. She also enjoys traveling, watching sporting events and biking--she rides an amazing 20 miles every day!

Twitter:  Brenda_Novak


1 comment:

  1. I also have this on my NetGalley list. I was considering reading the previous books before tackling this one and I think you have convinced me. Great review.

    Lacie @ Rainy Dayz Reviewz