Saturday, October 12, 2013

When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak

Synopsis: Welcome to Whiskey Creek— Heart of the Gold Country!

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 she can't manage it, that 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, and he 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.


My Thoughts: I actually started this  book ages ago as my first look at Brenda Novak's writing. After reading over half the book and finding myself hating the heroine, confused by the large cast of secondary characters and their importance within the heroine's life and annoyed by the hero's undying love for a woman from his past I thought I'd give up on this book. A friend of mine suggested I go back and read the first books in the series because the cast of characters would make more sense. I did this and enjoyed them enough to give this book a second try. 

What Worked: The beginning of the book was quite exciting with a late night visit from an injured stranger, getting the local veterinarian, who lived next door, to patch him up and the following incidents regarding some less then upstanding renters in the area. The initial chemistry between our hero and heroine had great potential also. Oh and I liked Callie's dog, Rifle too.

What didn't work: As Callie is dealing with her mortality and knowing that without a new liver her time is short she decides to not tell anyone so she can have one last summer without being coddled and surrounded by looks of pity. In addition she also justifies not telling as a way of saving her friends and family months of sadness. What could have been a story of a strong independent woman ended up being one about a martyr. It is evident during the course of the book she needs a support system in place for doctors visits and emergencies yet she chooses to leave 12 people in the dark to protect them. 

In addition to the issues I had with Callie, Levi was not a whole lot better. His underlying 'fear' of the police and living under an assumed name felt a bit ridiculous as did his undying love for a dead girlfriend. 

Now lets talk about diuretic spironolactone. There were a few medical jargon words thrown into the book to authenticate Callie's condition and her need for a lot of medications. If the book had been written in a way that coming across a phrase like diuretic spironolactone would have felt natural I wouldn't have been pulled out of the book long enough to say "What?" and highlight the phrase in my kindle. Yes I did highlight it, it's one of the things I love about my kindle. Anyway, "she could claim the diuretic spironolactone, or the lactulose, which she had to take four times a day to inhibit the buildup of ammonia in her blood, were for a harmless condition like premenstrual cramps." She not only decided not to tell anyone of her impending doom but she went out of her way to lie about it while telling everyone that nothing was wrong!!! She ended up hiding her box full of medicines under the porch. In the middle of summer. Outside. Just want to point out that storing medications in the summer heat outdoors is generally frowned upon. Oh and she gets her medications filled in another town much further away because "She couldn't use the one inside Nature's Way--a locally owned grocery store not far from Whiskey Creek--unless she wanted everyone to know about her condition...." Really? Even small town pharmacies have to comply with HIPAA laws and regulations. 

Now lets talk about transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts. Just kidding. Since I really disliked Callie and didn't like Levi any better one could hope the secondary characters were worth reading about. Not so much. Once again I found her large close knit group of friends nothing more than busy body gossip whores who judge books by their covers. Their continual treatment of a woman in the group (yet not quite part of the group) is horrifying despite their constant justification of their rudeness being based on the woman's 'mean girl' attitude when they were in high school. Good Gravy people. It's been a decade. Grow the Hell up!

So where does that leave us? The ending. It was all wrapped up in a nice big unrealistic bow where the good guys or girls don't die (or go to jail) and the bad guys get run out of town by Deputy Dawg (aka Office Stacy). How lovely.

In a Nutshell: I still maintain that I like this series or rather, I like the idea of the series. I think fans of the series will find this an ok read and I'd never encourage anyone to not read this book. However, for new readers of Brenda Novak and/or this series I'd recommend you go back to the beginning and read the first book When Lightning Strikes first. Because there is such a large cast of secondary characters it is impossible to understand their impact on the Whiskey Creek storyline as a whole without their back stories and there isn't enough time or space to spell it all out as a recap.
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