Thursday, September 19, 2013

When We Touch by Brenda Novak

Synopsis: You’re invited to a wedding in Whiskey Creek, Heart of the Gold Country
Unfortunately, it’s the wrong wedding. Olivia Arnold is arranging the festivities—and it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done. Because she should be marrying Kyle Houseman. They were together for more than a year…. But her jealous sister, Noelle, stole him away—and now she’s pregnant.
All their friends in Whiskey Creek know as well as Olivia does that Kyle’s making a mistake. His stepbrother, Brandon, knows it, too. But Kyle’s determined to go through with it, for his child’s sake.
Olivia’s devastated, but surprisingly Brandon—the black sheep of the family—is there to provide comfort and consolation. The intensity between them, both physical and emotional, shows Olivia that maybe Kyle wasn’t the right man for her…
But is Brandon?

My Thoughts: This is actually a novella with an approximate page count of 100. I normally do not read novellas because I haven't had great experiences with them. The limited page count often translates to a limited story and limited romance. While this is certainly true with this story I did actually enjoy it.

What Worked: The romance was actually quite believable despite the limited pages. Having the characters with a dating past and knowledge of each other was a pretty smart move on Novak's part. When you create two characters who don't know each other and have them fall in love within 100 pages we end up having to believe in insta-love. Typically, romances readers do not enjoy or believe in insta-love. So, thank goodness for no insta-love!

This novella is listed as #0 (zero) within the series and should be read before starting any of the other books because it is an excellent introduction to characters that keep cropping up within the series. One of those characters, Kyle, is not portrayed in a positive light in this novella but the reader does get a glimpse of intelligence, humility and regret which is a good thing to keep in mind because eventually, Novak will give Kyle another chance at love because this wedding is obviously doomed to end in divorce.

In addition to the negative image Novak created for Kyle she did a doozy of a job on Olivia's sister Noelle. There is absolutely nothing to like about her. If you ever wanted a fictional woman to hate, Noelle is it.

What Didn't Work: Although I really enjoyed hating Noelle she really does come across almost as a caricature of an actual person. She is over the top nasty and if I didn't recognize this as a flaw I'd be a bit remiss in my review.

Speaking of the series as a whole, I think it is important to read them in order. I tried reading the 3rd book first and found that the large cast of secondary characters had very little meaning to me without reading some of their stories first. Because the order in which the series should be read is important I've included it in my 'what didn't work' section. I really think romances should be able to stand-alone even if they are part of a series. 

In a Nutshell: Overall this really was a great story. I really enjoyed that Brandon had been in love with Olivia for years and finally was able to act on it. Olivia and Brandon make sense to me. Kyle on the other hand is on my short list of anti-heroes and I'm just wondering what exactly Novak has in store for him.

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