Home to Whiskey Creek

Home to Whiskey Creek - Brenda Novak 2.5 STARS"Sometimes I wonder if it isn't harder to live with a lie than to be punished for the truth."There are days when I randomly pick out books on the strength of their blurbs, not really caring much if it's right smack in the middle of a 10-book standalone-series (where there's no necessary continuity between books) or that I have no impression of the author's previous works from my friends. So I guess I'll be coming from THAT stand-point.After some belated research, Home to Whiskey Creek is the 4th book in Brenda Novak's contemporary romance series set in a small "gold rush town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas" but did a pretty decent job as a standalone if you can ignore the multitude of secondary characters who had some brief background drama description as they appeared in the story. I'm venturing a guess that they've had their turn in the spotlight and it's now Adelaide and Noah's turn.The story kicks-off with Adelaide Davies trapped in the mine where she was gang-raped 13 years ago. Having run away from that tragedy while keeping her silence, she finds herself facing the very demons she has tried desperately to escape in the form of Noah Rackham, the very man trying to rescue her; the clueless, twin brother of one of the five that attacked her that fateful night.I have a soft spot for small-town stories, the shared history of a community easily adds to the depth of the characters involved and this one was no different: the jocks, the cheerleaders, the nerds... the shy girl who comes back to town, beautiful and mysterious, catching the eye of her high school crush who never so much as glanced at her back then... it's just so easy to make a formula romance out of that. Plus all the angst potential in their back story? Too much potential feels for one heart...... yet none given my way.There's something, clinical about how this story was told. There's a definite lack of passion and chemistry between both Addy and Noah. And no, the glossed over and fade to black sex scenes has nothing to do about it. For some reason, Addy has held on to her crush since high school because he's... nice? Cute? In order for me to believe she'd ruined her marriage over Noah, I think I may need something more than his impressive baseball skills to make me bite. Same goes for Noah who doesn't even remember Addy from school, but after getting rebuffed, is suddenly in love with her. For an adult contemporary romance with an issue as big as theirs, I would've expected something with a heftier emotional anchor to their story.I found Addy as a heroine thin in depth. Her reasons for not speaking up about what happened before was planted on shaky logic but I did like how her moral dilemma was painted, particularly the possible current repercussions of her actions for something that happened a long time ago. The choices she had to make were truly difficult but her character was far too two-dimensional for me to commiserate with her and made her decisions less understandable to me than they already are.Noah was a bit of a fail as a hero for me. Maybe it was the fact that he repeatedly refers to sex as "making love". Or maybe its the cheetah printed caveman costume (with wig!) during a Halloween party he wasn't planning on attending. Or maybe it was the spandex. No actual scene involved him in spandex but it does uh, impress upon the imagination.He's a competitive biker and his side story involved his best friend who may or may not be gay and who may or may not be in love with him. There's a couple more jokes in there somewhere but I'm all out.I'm glad that the book didn't solely focus on the weak love story between these two and did delve into some detail to their family issues and showed them as somewhat social beings. Some lengths were given to address Baxter's issues which I somewhat appreciated, though they were quite predictable. The other half of the story was the mystery on who brought Addy to the mine at the beginning. This took considerable twists and turns before the actual reveal which weren't bad but weren't that great either. Overall, the book had tremendous potential that faltered in the bland main characters but was filled somewhat by Addy's interesting dilemma. What little I learned about the minor supporting characters didn't interest me enough to pick up the other books of the series but as for this one, a little less spandex would've gone a long way.ARC provided by Harlequin MIRA thru Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.