Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review ~ This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

This Heart of Mine
(Whiskey Creek #8)
by Brenda Novak

First love. Second chance? 

As the daughter of a hoarder, Phoenix Fuller had a tough childhood. So when the handsome, popular Riley Stinson became her boyfriend in high school, she finally felt as though she had something to be proud of. Phoenix was desperate not to lose him especially once she found out she was pregnant. Yes, she might have acted a bit obsessive when he broke up with her. But she did not run down the girl he started dating next.

Unfortunately, there was no way to prove her innocence. Now, after serving her time in prison, Phoenix has been released. All she wants to do is return to Whiskey Creek and get to know her son. But Jacob's father isn't exactly welcoming.

Riley doesn't trust Phoenix, doesn't want her in Jacob's life. He is, however, ready to find someone to love. And he wants a good mother for his son. He has no idea that he's about to find both! 

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This Heart of Mine is Phoenix and Riley's story, which starts out with Phoenix getting released from jail after spending 17 years behind bars for a crime she did not commit.  While incarcerated, she gave birth to Riley's son, Jacob, but was never able to hold her baby, so when she gets released, that is her top priority -  getting to know her son.  Riley is hesitant to let Phoenix into Jacobs life, but being the great father that he is, allows it to happen.  As Riley spends time with Phoenix, he realizes that the love he had for her in high school is still as strong as ever, but can he convince Phoenix of that?

Also, we get to see another side of Whiskey Creek and its citizens, and quite frankly, it made me angry and upset on how some of them treated Phoenix.  She has not always had an easy life, with her murder conviction and her mother's hoarding problem, but even after serving her time, Phoenix is still judged by the town folk.  Phoenix does not let this deter her though from getting her life back order and I really admired her for the actions she took.  She is a very strong woman that I instantly liked and cheered on as the story progressed.

Although there is not a ton of romance in This Heart of Mine, it is still a lovely story that kept me turning each page hoping for the best, not only with Phoenix and Riley's relationship, but that Whiskey Creek would give Phoenix the second chance she so deserved.

Brenda Novak has done it once again by giving us, the readers, an amazing story of love, sacrifice and second chances.  But most of all, she has given us a story that is relatable and realistic.  What I really like about the Whiskey Creek series, is that you don't have to read them in order or necessarily any of the previous stories to know what is going on during the current book. 

If you want to read a story of love, second chances and forgiveness, then I would recommend This Heart of Mine.

4 stars

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!

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