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When Lightning Strikes

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Simon O'Neal's causing trouble again. And it's up to Gail DeMarco to stop him. Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all—sexy and unpredictable Simon O'Neal. But Simon, who's just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self- Simon O'Neal's causing trouble again. And it's up to Gail DeMarco to stop him. Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all—sexy and unpredictable Simon O'Neal. But Simon, who's just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self-destructing he won't listen to anything she says. She drops him from her list—and he retaliates by taking the rest of her clients with him. Desperate to save her company, Gail has to humble herself by making a deal with Simon. The one thing he wants is custody of his son, but that's going to require a whole new image. He needs to marry some squeaky-clean girl who'll drag him off to some small, obscure place like Whiskey Creek…. Gail's the only one he can trust. She agrees to become his wife—reluctantly. But she isn't reluctant because he's too hard to like. It's because he's too hard not to love!


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Simon O'Neal's causing trouble again. And it's up to Gail DeMarco to stop him. Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all—sexy and unpredictable Simon O'Neal. But Simon, who's just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self- Simon O'Neal's causing trouble again. And it's up to Gail DeMarco to stop him. Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all—sexy and unpredictable Simon O'Neal. But Simon, who's just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self-destructing he won't listen to anything she says. She drops him from her list—and he retaliates by taking the rest of her clients with him. Desperate to save her company, Gail has to humble herself by making a deal with Simon. The one thing he wants is custody of his son, but that's going to require a whole new image. He needs to marry some squeaky-clean girl who'll drag him off to some small, obscure place like Whiskey Creek…. Gail's the only one he can trust. She agrees to become his wife—reluctantly. But she isn't reluctant because he's too hard to like. It's because he's too hard not to love!

30 review for When Lightning Strikes

  1. 5 out of 5

    ♥Sharon♥

    This is going to be short and sweet. I ended up really enjoying this one. I wasn't sure I would because early on it was just a bit ho-hum for me. But at about 30% things changed and I'm so happy they did. I think the best way to describe this book is that it was one of those feel good stories. The heroine Gail was very likable and never once did she drive me batty with unnecessary drama. And the hero Simon was that asshat you hated to love but loved anyways. And in the end he was quite a sweethear This is going to be short and sweet. I ended up really enjoying this one. I wasn't sure I would because early on it was just a bit ho-hum for me. But at about 30% things changed and I'm so happy they did. I think the best way to describe this book is that it was one of those feel good stories. The heroine Gail was very likable and never once did she drive me batty with unnecessary drama. And the hero Simon was that asshat you hated to love but loved anyways. And in the end he was quite a sweetheart!! This was my first book by Brenda Novak and certainly won't be my last!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Until about the last ten percent of this book I was without a doubt giving this one a five star review. I was getting ready to make posters of this bad boy. Hang them up in my room to swoon over them. There I was, starting it soon after dinner, and then it was two in the morning and I. Could. Not. Stop. Reading. It has been so long since a simple romantic contemporary did that to me. And those are the ones that stick, because those are the ones that got me started. My first loves were Susan Eliz Until about the last ten percent of this book I was without a doubt giving this one a five star review. I was getting ready to make posters of this bad boy. Hang them up in my room to swoon over them. There I was, starting it soon after dinner, and then it was two in the morning and I. Could. Not. Stop. Reading. It has been so long since a simple romantic contemporary did that to me. And those are the ones that stick, because those are the ones that got me started. My first loves were Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie. Rachel Gibson came in and swept me away. And then there were hits and misses with Susan Donovan and Christie Ridgway, but there at the core were these fantastic stories about headstrong people fighting their way through life and the humor, heart, and basic human element of love that holds it all together. It's why characters like Daisy Devreaux and Alex Markov will always hold a place in my heart despite the millions of books I've read since then. It's why just saying "Francesa Day and Dallie Beaudine" give me that swoony feeling like someone just sighed, "Clark Gable." So, cards on the table, I've been waiting for that sort of story again. Here is another genre that people think is easy. That all they have to do is make two people bicker then fall in love and bang it out then bam! you've got a romance. Sure, whatever. Do whatever you'd like. But for us fans who keep tattered copies of books on our shelves there is a magic to getting it right. And this is the first time in a long while that I read a story that got it right. Almost. I've read Brenda Novak before, but her romantic suspense books that were heavy on the murder. There were a few I liked, and some I dismissed. But after reading the blurb on this one I knew I had to give it a try. The whole Hollywood thing is something SEP has done, and has done well, and I like the drama that paparazzi and publicity can give the story. And this one caught me hook, line and guts from the start. Simon O'Neal is the biggest star of the moment. It's 2002 and he's Brad Pitt. It's 2007 and he's Johnny Depp. He's gorgeous and throws it down in some unforgettable sex scenes with co-stars he happens to be banging it out with off screen too. He's Robert Downey Jr. screwing things up right now with the drinking and the ladies and it looks like he doesn't care. He's showing up at his ex-wife's house, demanding to see his kid, fist fighting with bikers, and isn't listening to his publicist. Gail threw the deuces on this trainwreck of a guy, and just so happens now every big client is doing the same to her. Simon has pull in this town, and now to save her business she has to go play nice. And things happen and then it's do or die to save both her business and his chances of getting his son back. So what do they come up with? A plan to get married and play nice. Sounds ridiculous, but it was pulled off really well. I love the planning then went into it. I loved Gail's frustration coming up against Simon's apparent indifference. Simon was such a different sort of hero. It would have been easy to make him a lot of obvious things, but he wasn't. Novak never went there with it. Aspects of his personality were revealed in details here in there, in conversation, in actions. The romance evolves slowly, and the steam factor between these two was ridiculous. I loved just watching them and couldn't put it down because each scene just gave more. Offered more insight, more romance, more Simon and Gail. It was delicious and fresh, and it was a perfect combination of surprises and moments of YES! I WANTED HER TO SAY THAT! That being said, the ending disappointed me. It was building up to so much. Fireworks! Declarations of passion and love! But alas, it was a quiet, quick defusing. A sort of, "Hey, no big. Drama solved itself. Also, turns out I am in love with you so let's do this." I wish the epilogue wasn't more focused on opening it up to the next in the series rather than making the ending of this one fatter and happier. But all in all, despite the rushed ending, this one still gets a place on the shelf and gets me excited to come back to Whiskey Creek.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Umaiya ❄️Ramblings of a Scattered Mind❄️

    Awww! This was so sweet! 3.5 stars I don't know why I'm still surprised Lol! xD Awww! This was so sweet! 3.5 stars I don't know why I'm still surprised Lol! xD

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tessa Teevan

    LOVED this book! Sweet, heartfelt, and even though there was potential for it, no unnecessary angst or drama. Just a great feel good romance!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    3.5 Stars Simon O'Neal is a hard drinking, womanizing Hollywood superstar. He surrounds himself with people who fawn over him and won't call him on his reckless behavior. Gail Dimarco was his PR consultant until she sacked him as a client. But after an over-zealous employee intimated that Simon sexually assaulted Gail, they need to get together and do some serious damage control. Simon is in a bitter custody battle for his son, and any more bad press will destroy his already shaky case. To rehabi 3.5 Stars Simon O'Neal is a hard drinking, womanizing Hollywood superstar. He surrounds himself with people who fawn over him and won't call him on his reckless behavior. Gail Dimarco was his PR consultant until she sacked him as a client. But after an over-zealous employee intimated that Simon sexually assaulted Gail, they need to get together and do some serious damage control. Simon is in a bitter custody battle for his son, and any more bad press will destroy his already shaky case. To rehabilitate his reputation, Gail marries him and they flee Hollywood for Gail's hometown of Whiskey Creek. When Lightning Strikes is a cute contemporary romance about a broken man and an insecure woman. Away from the craziness of Hollywood, Simon is able to set his life in order, and in Simon's arms Gail is feeling treasured for the first time in her life. But someone has other plans and will do anything to ensure that Simon and Gail don't succeed. Fans of Robyn Carr and Toni Blake would probably enjoy When Lightning Strikes Many thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for this ARC

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Proffitt

    I'm only an hour from the end, but I give up. Even giving it the premise that he's the most famous actor ever and she's a hotshot PR exec the beginning doesn't work. Both have underlings who are incompetent, if not malevolent, and thy make choices that are convenient for the plot but make no other sense. Like Simon not giving his lawyer the emails and texts from his ex-wife. Dude, that's the guy you are paying to know how to use it best to achieve your goal of getting your son back. Pretending y I'm only an hour from the end, but I give up. Even giving it the premise that he's the most famous actor ever and she's a hotshot PR exec the beginning doesn't work. Both have underlings who are incompetent, if not malevolent, and thy make choices that are convenient for the plot but make no other sense. Like Simon not giving his lawyer the emails and texts from his ex-wife. Dude, that's the guy you are paying to know how to use it best to achieve your goal of getting your son back. Pretending you know better than (s)he (we never meet the attorney) does is arrogant. Withholding that information is so very stupid I just can't even. It does serve the purpose rather well of showing how irredeemably evil the ex is. But that doesn't actually make this any better because we're supposed to buy that a judge awarded her sole and exclusive custody of their kid along with a restraining order on him. Well that was a longer diversion than I meant. Still that foreshadows the final straw that broke this camel's back. That (view spoiler)[he would race back to the idiot ex on a verbal promise to "work things out" is so stupid it completely ended any sympathy I have for the idiot. The things she has done are outright evil and completely manipulative and he can't see this for the ploy it is?!? And Gail even points out that him running to her makes their deal completely moot (because it proves conclusively that their marriage is a sham) doesn't make him hesitate (hide spoiler)] . Yeah, it's emotional and all, but the blind stupidity required for that to happen is astonishingly bad. I suppose Novak is going for "he cares so much about his kid and that's attractive, right" but it doesn't work that way for me, at any rate. I may come back to a different Novak book later and maybe even this series. There are some interesting social dynamics and this book introduces a friend group I wouldn't mind getting to know better. But I'm not terribly hopeful because this story did nothing for me, despite a couple of tropes that normally draw me in.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ⓐlleskelle - teamSøren♗ ⊲I like big b00ks⊳

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4.5 STARS⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I am hooked on this series. HOOKED. I can't seem to depart with it, now reading book 5 already! 5 books in a row! And the worst is that I wouldn't have open this book if not for a friend putting it right under my nose! I love contemporary romance, I don't mind the lack of steam if the story is worth it. In that case, Brenda Novak lays out it all so cleverly, capturing the reader's attention within the first chapter. I could really appreciate her writing, the care she g ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4.5 STARS⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I am hooked on this series. HOOKED. I can't seem to depart with it, now reading book 5 already! 5 books in a row! And the worst is that I wouldn't have open this book if not for a friend putting it right under my nose! I love contemporary romance, I don't mind the lack of steam if the story is worth it. In that case, Brenda Novak lays out it all so cleverly, capturing the reader's attention within the first chapter. I could really appreciate her writing, the care she gave to built her characters, they all had a story to tell. Whiskey Creek reminded me of the "feel good" vibe I had reading Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor series, where you find yourself wondering what would it be like to actually live in this specific small town, meeting that very same group of friends... And that's when I can tell she did a great job at it. She made me project myself in this little place called Whiskey Creek. "When Lightning Strikes" opens the series beautifully, with a fake marriage trope, mixed with an enemy to lovers one, and a Cinderella one! Gail DeMarco is a great PR in Los Angeles, one of her former clients being THE Simon O'Neal, the huge movie star... Disheveled movie star, he's having a hard time and is well on his path to self destruction. Unfortunately for Gail, a misunderstanding is going to cost her the business she worked hard for, and put big movie star O'Neal's chances to get his son back at jeopardy... They HAVE to team up! Somehow they're going to come up with this deal of fake marriage, (the idea is a bit OTT, but if you can get past that, the rest of the story is worth it) and Gail is going to do everything to make it work, even bringing Simon O'neal back to her home town : Whiskey Creek. Sexual tension was a guideline throughout the whole story and led to some very sexy times, a little angst, and some really sweet moments. All in all I really enjoyed this one, as well as the 4 following books, you get to know a little more each member of the "friday coffee" group, and you'd think you've seen everything in a little town like Whiskey Creek, but Brenda Novak keeps coming up with great, great ideas, keeping her little golden place anew. If you like a good contemporary romance novel : THIS IS IT!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jane Stewart

    This is not romance frippery. It’s a good story with good conversations and interesting relationship development. I was pleased and engrossed and enjoyed the whole journey. Gail was being with Simon to help him and she was sticking to her principles. I loved her Attila the Hun protectiveness over Simon when he was in the hospital. I liked the slow build up of their relationship and how Simon falls for Gail, a less attractive woman than the beauties he had in the past. One thing interesting at the This is not romance frippery. It’s a good story with good conversations and interesting relationship development. I was pleased and engrossed and enjoyed the whole journey. Gail was being with Simon to help him and she was sticking to her principles. I loved her Attila the Hun protectiveness over Simon when he was in the hospital. I liked the slow build up of their relationship and how Simon falls for Gail, a less attractive woman than the beauties he had in the past. One thing interesting at the beginning: Simon’s manager did bad things to Gail without Simon’s knowledge that Gail thought was done by Simon. Then Gail’s assistant did something bad to Simon without Gail’s knowledge that Simon thought was done by Gail. It created conflict but kept the main characters as good guys. AUDIOBOOK: I wanted to buy the audiobook but did not because the narrator Amy Rubinate had too many bad reviews. DATA: Narrative mode: 3rd person. Story length: about 445 pages. Swearing language: mild plus the s-word. Sexual language: mild. Number of sex scenes: 1 plus 2 referred to. Setting: current day small town Whiskey Creek, and Los Angeles, California. Copyright: 2012. Genre: contemporary romance. ------------------------------------------------ THE SERIES: This is book #1 in the Whiskey Creek series. Each book can be read as a stand alone, but there is a flow of characters through the books which makes it nice if read in order. Here are my ratings for them. My Favorites (4 ½ or more stars): #0.5 When We Touch - 102 page novella #1 When Lightning Strikes #5 Take Me Home For Christmas #8 This Heart of Mine 2nd choice (3 ½ stars): #9 A Winter Wedding #2 When Snow Falls - It was hard to feel hope or anticipation. Chey would not allow herself to act on her feelings. She kept her feelings “secret” for most of the book. 3rd choice: The main plot was one character keeping a “secret” for most of the book. I did not enjoy the lies. In some stories I did not like the reasons for keeping the secret. 2 ½ stars. #3 When Summer Comes 2 stars. #4 Home to Whiskey Creek 2 ½ stars. #6 Come Home to Me - secret baby 3 stars. #7 The Heart of Christmas - Hero is on the run from bad guys. When heroine asked questions he could have answered in generic terms but he was silent. That didn’t feel right to me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa - (Aussie Girl)

    Fairly run of the mill small town contemporary, just okay in comparison to other series I've read. Stereotypical characters and situation (bad boy actor saved by homely small town girl), lots of obvious set up for other characters and I just didn't get the feel good vibe from Whiskey Creek. This ones a miss for me. Fairly run of the mill small town contemporary, just okay in comparison to other series I've read. Stereotypical characters and situation (bad boy actor saved by homely small town girl), lots of obvious set up for other characters and I just didn't get the feel good vibe from Whiskey Creek. This ones a miss for me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonetta

    Gail DeMarco created a successful PR firm with many A-list clients, including Simon O'Neal,one of the most successful and gorgeous actors in Los Angeles. When she decided to cut him loose after his umpteenth self-destructive act, his business manager retaliated by taking all of her clients with him. Simon is in the middle of a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife and needs to clean up his image so he and Gail make a deal: he'll get her business back in order if she'll agree to marry him and giv Gail DeMarco created a successful PR firm with many A-list clients, including Simon O'Neal,one of the most successful and gorgeous actors in Los Angeles. When she decided to cut him loose after his umpteenth self-destructive act, his business manager retaliated by taking all of her clients with him. Simon is in the middle of a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife and needs to clean up his image so he and Gail make a deal: he'll get her business back in order if she'll agree to marry him and give him instant respectability. Gail reluctantly agrees to do so to keep her staff employed and her business afloat. I honestly thought this story might be a little on the silly side given the premise. There was absolutely nothing silly about this book with its flawed and complex characters. Simon O'Neal is so layered and has every reason to be angry given his personal circumstances but he chooses to keep them secret and takes the hits for his public venting. No one knows the underlying reasons for his behavior. Gail is extremely smart and has great instincts but is a bit naive when it comes to matters of the heart. She was raised by an overly protective father and her mother was absent so she hasn't had a lot of experience with men, even though she knows how to handle herself in the business arena. If the characters had stayed in Los Angeles, the story probably would have been as predictable as I was fearing. However, Gail's decision to have them move to Whiskey Creek provided a much more interesting backdrop and experience. We learn more about the people in Gail's life and the influence they have on who she is. We also get to watch Gail in action as she works to bring Simon back to a healthier place physically and emotionally, putting her own feelings and heart at risk. What started as a modern marriage of convenience transitioned to something quite different and special. You cannot help but adore Gail and then fall in love with the true Simon. There are some interesting secondary characters that give the story added flavor but never seem to overwhelm the central players. I loved this story and was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the book and its characters. I've read a couple of Novak's historical romances and was uncertain if the shift to this genre would bring me as much pleasure as those books did. This is a great start to the series and I am really looking forward to the next book's release. (I received an ARC from NetGalley)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

    This would really be a 3.5, if we were allowed to give half stars. (GoodReads, I'm looking at you.) But as much fun as I had reading this small-town romance, which is admittedly not my usual type, there were some things about it I just could not get past. For starters, what begins as a business-arrangement marriage quickly turns into the heroine trying to saaaave her alcoholic (supposedly he's not actually an alcoholic because it was easy to give up the booze when he put his mind to it...cause th This would really be a 3.5, if we were allowed to give half stars. (GoodReads, I'm looking at you.) But as much fun as I had reading this small-town romance, which is admittedly not my usual type, there were some things about it I just could not get past. For starters, what begins as a business-arrangement marriage quickly turns into the heroine trying to saaaave her alcoholic (supposedly he's not actually an alcoholic because it was easy to give up the booze when he put his mind to it...cause that's how alcoholism works), womanizing, damaged movie star husband. It was a little too close to codependent behavior, and even though I knew it would turn out in the end (it IS a romance novel, after all), I just couldn't help but be bothered by it. I also didn't like how easily our heroine, who had built her very successful business from scratch, just walked away from it to make her husband her new business. Granted, she's in public relations so a movie star husband fits in with her expertise, but still. And finally, I was disturbed by the specter of spousal abuse being raised, and then "settled" by the possibly abused but definitely unhappy wife saying that she didn't want to risk losing her daughter in a divorce, but that she might be brave enough to leave when her daughter was older. Um, really? You don't think staying in an unhappy and possibly abusive relationship is having an effect on a young girl? Be serious. (This was a minor subplot, it should be noted.) So while the book was well plotted and paced and I enjoyed reading it, I was bothered enough that I'm not sure I can revisit Whiskey Creek in book two. But if you have greater skills at ignoring this stuff (no judgment...really. I ignore other stuff that drives people crazy all the time), then this could be a really entertaining read for you. Oh! Oh! And take a look at the cover. The male model looks totally wooden. It's as though we had a reversal of the eighties comedy sensation Mannequin. Ok. I'm done now.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christa

    I am so glad that Brenda Novak has started a new series, and I loved this first full length Whiskey Creek book. When I saw that the new series appeared to be contemporary romance, I was afraid that I would really miss the suspense that she generally puts in her novels. This book worked for me so well that I didn't even notice that it wasn't a romantic suspense. I loved the characters and the storyline, and I can't wait to read the next installment. Gail DeMarco has done very well with her PR firm I am so glad that Brenda Novak has started a new series, and I loved this first full length Whiskey Creek book. When I saw that the new series appeared to be contemporary romance, I was afraid that I would really miss the suspense that she generally puts in her novels. This book worked for me so well that I didn't even notice that it wasn't a romantic suspense. I loved the characters and the storyline, and I can't wait to read the next installment. Gail DeMarco has done very well with her PR firm until actor Simon O'Neal leaves her firm, causing most of her other clients to leave as well. Gail knows she must do damage control or her employees will be left high and dry, but she never intended to have to actually marry Simon. When these two exchange vows and take refuge in Whiskey Creek their relationship develops in ways that are unexpected for both of them. I loved both Gail and Simon, and enjoyed seeing Simon put his destructive ways behind him. The storyline was enjoyable, and I loved the setting of Whiskey Creek. This book is a good example of why Novak is a must-read author for me. In my opinion, she has a solid winner in this one. I received this book as an ARC through Netgalley.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

    Rating: 3,5 stars. I seem to be quite nitpicking about romances lately, which is why I took 1,5 stars from the rating, but to be fair I really enjoyed this one. The plot: Gail (the owner of a successful PR firm that is about to suddenly take a nosedive) and Simon (a world famous, filthy-rich movie star who’s been on a self-destructive path since his publicly scandalous divorce that may cost him the custody of his son) decide to make a “business deal” that they hope will solve all their problems, Rating: 3,5 stars. I seem to be quite nitpicking about romances lately, which is why I took 1,5 stars from the rating, but to be fair I really enjoyed this one. The plot: Gail (the owner of a successful PR firm that is about to suddenly take a nosedive) and Simon (a world famous, filthy-rich movie star who’s been on a self-destructive path since his publicly scandalous divorce that may cost him the custody of his son) decide to make a “business deal” that they hope will solve all their problems, even if they are distrustful and think lowly of each other. The premise that leads to the MCs teaming up is rather preposterous but also really funny and it hooked me from the start. The characters: + Gail: I highly respected her for being an independent and successful entrepreneur who cared about her employees, friends and family, and wasn't willing to compromise neither of them for another. I liked that she didn't care about Simon’s money or fame and never failed to call him on his bullshit. I didn't always agree with her decisions and wanted to shake her a couple of times, but then she went and did things that proved a strength of character that made me so proud of her; e.g.: (view spoiler)[Neil: “He won’t stay with you. You’re not even that pretty.” Gail: “Maybe not. But I wouldn't cheat on him in a million years. Especially with a morally bankrupt old fart like you. That’s got to be worth something,” she said, and slammed the door behind her. (hide spoiler)] + Simon: He was a real mess for most of the book, but I could tell from the start that there was a lot more going on in his life than the public new about. Gail kept talking about his charisma but all I saw for a while were his self-destructive ways and how much pain he was in. I could totally see how Gail’s guilelessness was so refreshing to him (and sometimes a bit disturbing). It was beautiful to see how Gail’s influence led him to reevaluate his ways and want to turn things around and take the reins of his life. I felt terrible for how much Simon missed his son Ty. - Ian: I tagged him as self-serving from the start and never liked him. - Bella: if I had a loaded gun in her presence I would shoot the BITCH in the head again and again until I completely obliterated her. - Simon’s dad: I believe in second chances. I believe in forgiveness. But there are a few 100% unacceptable things in my book; a line that once you cross you just can’t come back from. He was irredeemable as far as I'm concerned. - Gail’s friends as a whole: they bored me. Whenever they appeared I just wanted to get back to Gail/Simon. I like small town people with deep roots and strong values, but these characters were flat and didn't seem to contribute anything to the plot. The whole Sophia deal came across as an underdeveloped sub-plot that was irrelevant to the story. The progression of the romance: *In the beginning... It took a while for things to pick up. Despite some sweet moments and some funny ones, for a good part of the book I wasn't too invested in the MCs's relationship and thought that the romance was a bit underwhelming. At the same time, there was a very realistic feel in how things progressed slowly between them. *At the 60ish% mark... When it finally hit me, it hit me full force. Once Simon started leaving all the self-hate behind and allowed himself to be happy he was THE SWEETEST. There was a scene in which (view spoiler)[Gail finally gave in and told him she’d have sex with him, but instead he cuddled her because he thought she might regret it in the morning. (hide spoiler)] . *At the 70ish% mark... Things got hot! And THIS: “He was far more aggressive than either of her former lovers -more demanding, too- but he was also careful not to take it too far. She could sense whenever he’d draw back, when he’d check her expression and responsiveness to make sure she was enjoying how he touched her.” Absolutely perfect. The most realistic portraying of a couple’s first time together (though both had had other partners before) I've ever read. It was a hot scene, with a lot of sexiness, but also consideration and the realistic notion that you’re not going to instantly know exactly what another person wants/needs from minute 1; you have to test things first to figure out what makes the other person tick. *At the 80ish% mark... I’m ready to sink with this ship. *At the 90ish% mark... Sucker punch! Damn. *At the end: In a nutshell: What a turnaround! It took quite a while for me to get invested, but by the end I really cared and had all the feels! So much that I wanted a longer epilogue. It felt like all the MCs had been fighting for was resolved too quickly/easily/off-the-page and I wanted to see a bit more of them being happy and definitely get to know Ty after hearing so much about him!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    Originally posted at http://smexybooks.com/2012/09/review-... PR firm owner Gail DeMarco finds herself in hot water when her A list client retaliates against some bad PR she gave him and as a result, Gail has been dropped by her other clients. With her business going downhill quick, Gail has to swallow her pride and convince Simon to call a truce and to take her back. Hollywood bad boy, Simon O’Neal only wants one thing; to see his little boy. He agrees to forgive Gail and help her out for a price Originally posted at http://smexybooks.com/2012/09/review-... PR firm owner Gail DeMarco finds herself in hot water when her A list client retaliates against some bad PR she gave him and as a result, Gail has been dropped by her other clients. With her business going downhill quick, Gail has to swallow her pride and convince Simon to call a truce and to take her back. Hollywood bad boy, Simon O’Neal only wants one thing; to see his little boy. He agrees to forgive Gail and help her out for a price. He needs to clean up his image pronto and he wants her to help him pull it off. Gail agrees to marry him (reluctantly) and use her company and her spotless reputation to polish up the tarnish that clings to Simon’s. Once they hammer out the details and sign the contract, Gail convinces Simon to leave Hollywood and come with her to her hometown of Whisky Creek, California. Gail feels that a small town with no Hollywood distractions is just what Simon needs to settle down and get back in touch with himself. Simon agrees and finds himself not only taken with the town, but also taken with Gail. Gail fears falling in love with the love em’ and leave em’ bad boy, convinced he could never truly love her. When the inevitable happens, can Gail save Simon and her heart, or will she lose both? When Lightning Strikes is the first installment of Brenda Novak’s Whiskey Creek Series. A romantic contemporary that unfortunately tripped coming out of the gate for me and never quite recovered. The storyline isn’t bad, it’s just boring. The premise holds a lot of promise. A marriage of convenience between a Hollywood bad boy and morally upstanding good girl. Perfect. Only, what sounded good in the excerpt doesn’t translate well onto paper for me. I love Brenda Novak’s romantic suspense books. And while I know this is NOT a romantic suspense, it’s her ability to bring her character to life and the rich in depth world she builds around them is the appeal for me. I felt this book missed the mark. There is no life or passion to our protagonists. No real emotional connection. I would have found both Gail and Simon to be inspiring protagonists if only Novak would have worked harder on their characterization. We see their faults and then their change of heart, but to me the catalyst for these changes is glossed over. In fact, a majority of the story glosses over the why’s and just gives you the results. I found Gail suffered from a martyr complex and she makes sure you know just how great her sacrifice is. Through 3/4 of the book all you hear about is how she is sacrificing herself for Simon’s wellbeing. How, no matter what happens, Simon will never really shake his bad reputation or become a better person. She tosses his bad behavior in his face so many times, if I were Simon, I would have caused problems just to spite her. Her family and friends don’t like Simon, which is Gail’s fault because she did nothing but bad mouth him to them. I found it hard to believe that she, as a PR specialist, would have publicly lamb blasted him in the first place. He was her client. She spent a fair amount of time telling everyone how terrible he is, then can’t understand why everyone can’t just like him and get over it. Simon was a little better. His divorce from his wife was brutal and he lost custody of his son because of his bad behavior during and after the divorce. You learn later that there was a very good reason for Simon’s behavior but he refuses to stand up for himself, fearful he will never see his little boy again. Im sorry, but if you have evidence that could give you your heart’s desire, then you use it. You don’t sit on it due to what if’s and maybe’s. I will admit that he does try his best to fit in with Gail’s family and friends and in their “pretend” marriage. We have a rushed low key romance on Simon and Gail’s part and even a tiny love triangle that fizzled for me. I expected some challenge or conflict in that aspect but nothing really happens. He’s used more as an “a-HA” moment then anything else. I did enjoy the secondary characters. They seemed more personal and acted in a realistic fashion. We meet Simon’s dad who I thought was one of the more interesting characters. Simon and Gail’s time in Whiskey Creek was, in a nutshell, not interesting. To sum it up, this story is very cookie cutter with textbook characters and situations. No real conflict or angst. No real emotional soul searching or romantic epiphanies. Even the bombshell ending played out like a write by numbers scenario and I felt cheated. Rating: D

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda (un)Conventional Bookworms

    Lovely and unlikely love story. I loved every single word on the page. Gail and Simon started their relationship for all the wrong reasons, but what a wonderful story! This and other reviews can also be found on my blog: (un)Conventional Bookviews When Lightning Strikes is book 1 of the Whiskey Creek series, and I have already read the prequel – and I loved that, too! From there, a merry-go-round is taking both Simon and Gail on a wild ride. And it ends up with Gail telling Simon he should marry a Lovely and unlikely love story. I loved every single word on the page. Gail and Simon started their relationship for all the wrong reasons, but what a wonderful story! This and other reviews can also be found on my blog: (un)Conventional Bookviews When Lightning Strikes is book 1 of the Whiskey Creek series, and I have already read the prequel – and I loved that, too! From there, a merry-go-round is taking both Simon and Gail on a wild ride. And it ends up with Gail telling Simon he should marry an innocent-looking woman he can trust, stop drinking, and get his life back together so he can regain shared custody of his son. Things don’t go according to Gail’s plans when Simon’s manager Ian thinks that Gail is the woman who should play the role of the bride. As she secretly admires Simon, she wants nothing to do with a fake marriage at first, but she gives in when she sees an opportunity to save both Big Hit and Simon, even if she is very afraid to lose her heart in the process. Simon’s ex-wife is a true bitch in this book! She only uses Ty as a means to hurt Simon, and throughout their marriage, she is the one who was cheating on him – not the other way around. Simon plays the tough guy to not let anyone see how hurt he is, both to be separated from his son, and because of his Bella’s betrayal. In the beginning, not even Gail realizes how much he’s had to go through, and how Bella continues her slow torture after filing a restraining order against Simon.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    4.25 stars. I've had this on my To-Read for the longest time. I am so happy I was able to read it! I really enjoyed it but I wish we had gotten to hear more about Olivia, Brandon, and Kyle from the first story. All I know is Kyle is now divorced...what happened to the baby??? That's frustrating but I still liked the book :). 4.25 stars. I've had this on my To-Read for the longest time. I am so happy I was able to read it! I really enjoyed it but I wish we had gotten to hear more about Olivia, Brandon, and Kyle from the first story. All I know is Kyle is now divorced...what happened to the baby??? That's frustrating but I still liked the book :).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Caro

    This was a really good read. I loved the characters, the personalities, the ups and downs, emotions, the plot, and the great ending. This one definitely got me interested and ha me wanting to know what would happen next when I wasn't reading. A great beginning and has me wanting to read more in the series! Written well and had hating/loving the characters. Enjoy! This was a really good read. I loved the characters, the personalities, the ups and downs, emotions, the plot, and the great ending. This one definitely got me interested and ha me wanting to know what would happen next when I wasn't reading. A great beginning and has me wanting to read more in the series! Written well and had hating/loving the characters. Enjoy!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lynsey

    Listened to on audio. Narrated by Amy Rubinate. 3.5 stars for the book. 4 stars for the narration. I liked the narration on this. Evenly paced, well performed, there is literally nothing I can complain about! The reason for 4 stars rather than 5 though, is that whilst nothing stood out as irritating or offputting, neither did anything make me want to rush out and see what else this narrator has done. As for the book, I really enjoyed it. Very well written. I enjoyed the story, the town, some of the Listened to on audio. Narrated by Amy Rubinate. 3.5 stars for the book. 4 stars for the narration. I liked the narration on this. Evenly paced, well performed, there is literally nothing I can complain about! The reason for 4 stars rather than 5 though, is that whilst nothing stood out as irritating or offputting, neither did anything make me want to rush out and see what else this narrator has done. As for the book, I really enjoyed it. Very well written. I enjoyed the story, the town, some of the supporting characters were great (although there were just too many introduced to us that I totally failed to keep up with some of them!) I loved the H & h and felt it was a well told tale of two unlikely people coming together through odd circumstances and falling in love against the odds. I really liked that these two fell in love quite naturally. As much as I enjoy a love-at-first-sight story, it was kind of refreshing to see a relationship growing slowly over time. My only issues were that, firstly, it moved very slowly. This is usually ok if whatever else is going on is interesting, but I was a little bit bored with the friends and family's reactions to Simon. I could have done with a fewer people giving him a hard time. Secondly, I really liked Simon but I didn't understand how he could be so clueless about the people around him. Being manipulated by Bella, Ian and his Dad made me feel that he was a little weak or stupid - neither of which is particularly appealing. Thirdly, I felt some information was kept secret for too long and it was a bit annoying. Like why Sophia was a pariah, why Gail's Dad was so hard to please, what happened with Bella etc... These things were hinted at lots of times but then not disclosed until later, which became more frustrating each time. Despite those small things, I did really enjoy this book and I'm going to see what the rest of the series brings. I really liked this authors style, therefore, I'm hoping they will get better and better.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    If you like daytime dramas, this is your catnip. It was an entertaining story that I couldn't put down. However, certain subjects should not be brought up if not handled correctly; in this book's case it was domestic violence (side character who may end up as main character in later in series) and date-rape (heroine's past). I liked Simon (hero) much more than I did Gail (heroine); he really made an effort to change his life for the better. Gail was decent, but I wanted her to be a stronger woma If you like daytime dramas, this is your catnip. It was an entertaining story that I couldn't put down. However, certain subjects should not be brought up if not handled correctly; in this book's case it was domestic violence (side character who may end up as main character in later in series) and date-rape (heroine's past). I liked Simon (hero) much more than I did Gail (heroine); he really made an effort to change his life for the better. Gail was decent, but I wanted her to be a stronger woman; she came with a ton of insecurities that got repetitive after a while and her relationship with her family bordered on controlling. Overall, I liked the story enough to continue the series. 3 stars.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Kay

    ★★★½✩ (This is a review of the audiobook.) Amy Rubinate does a nice job of narrating this book. I thought this was definitely going to be a three star book for me. I wanted to feel happy while out doing my errands, or maybe even hopeful... or enthralled. Alas, I frequently felt sad. However, the last fifth of the book came in with better feelings between the main characters, and saved the day.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline J

    3-1/2 stars I liked this more than I thought I was going to. Somehow it was just really readable. The relationship between the two of them was the entire thrust of the story with not a lot of attention paid to secondary characters although they were there, the author didn't jump into any one else's POV. I just really enjoyed watching them fall in love. 3-1/2 stars I liked this more than I thought I was going to. Somehow it was just really readable. The relationship between the two of them was the entire thrust of the story with not a lot of attention paid to secondary characters although they were there, the author didn't jump into any one else's POV. I just really enjoyed watching them fall in love.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emma ~ The Indecisive Reader ~

    4.5 stars

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marie Mccarthy

    Wow! I really enjoyed reading this book! What a beautiful love story. I lOve the way Gail loved Simon for who he is and didnt look at any flaws. The Characters were all wonderful and I felt right at home in Whiskey Creek. The ending was wonderful and I loved the epilogue. Ladies if you haven't read this book please get a copy. This is book 1 in this beautiful series. I'm starting book 2. Brenda Novak is a beautiful writer ❤ Wow! I really enjoyed reading this book! What a beautiful love story. I lOve the way Gail loved Simon for who he is and didnt look at any flaws. The Characters were all wonderful and I felt right at home in Whiskey Creek. The ending was wonderful and I loved the epilogue. Ladies if you haven't read this book please get a copy. This is book 1 in this beautiful series. I'm starting book 2. Brenda Novak is a beautiful writer ❤

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Gail is a Hollywood PR guru. She is so frustrated with Simon's refusal to listen to what she says that she finally drops him as a client. He goes to another firm and takes most of her clients with him, leaving her company in deep trouble. In order to save her company she goes to Sam with a plan to help them both. She'll help him repair his image and he'll come back to her firm. She comes up with a plan for him to marry a squeaky clean girl and behave himself. She doesn't expect to get roped into Gail is a Hollywood PR guru. She is so frustrated with Simon's refusal to listen to what she says that she finally drops him as a client. He goes to another firm and takes most of her clients with him, leaving her company in deep trouble. In order to save her company she goes to Sam with a plan to help them both. She'll help him repair his image and he'll come back to her firm. She comes up with a plan for him to marry a squeaky clean girl and behave himself. She doesn't expect to get roped into being that girl. I liked both Gail and Simon. Gail is very good at what she does. Her frustration with Simon is partly because she really believes that he isn't as bad as he appears, but she can't get through to him. When she has to go to him and apologize for her actions it is very hard for her. She and Simon's manager Ian come up with a plan to salvage Simon's reputation so that he has a chance of seeing his son again. She's reluctant to play the part of his wife, but agrees that she is the safest candidate. Her problem is that she's unwillingly attracted to him and spending time as his wife is bound to cause problems. Gail grew up in a small town with her father and brother. Her mother had abandoned them when she was a child and Gail has always felt that she had to be extra good to show her dad that's she's not like her mom. Marrying Simon does not sit well with her family or friends. Gail is determined that she will help Simon and realizes that it won't happen if he stays in Hollywood. So she drags him off to her hometown of Whiskey Creek where she forces him to act like a normal person. She didn't expect to grow to care for the man behind the bad boy attitude. I loved seeing her stand up to Simon when he tried to resist her efforts to help him. She also was able to convince her family and friends that what she and Simon had was real. I liked the way that she and Simon grew closer the more time they spent in Whiskey Creek. My biggest frustration with Gail was her inability to believe that Simon's compliments to her were real and that he really wasn't just pretending. I loved her confidence in his innocence at the end and how they finally worked everything out. Simon was a guy with a bad boy appearance but who was really a softie inside. His problems really started when he and his wife separated and then divorced. His ex was a very manipulative woman and used their son to torment Simon. The cause of the divorce and her subsequent actions sent Simon on a path to self-destruction because he couldn't cope with what was going on. He drank too much, got into fights and was generally obnoxious. He knew he was making things worse but couldn't seem to stop. Gail's directives just made him feel worse and he would behave even more badly. He hadn't been aware of the problems with her company because it was his manager who had caused them, not him. He was willing to work with her again after he hit bottom and admitted that he really did need help. He wasn't thrilled with the marriage idea but didn't have much choice. When Gail laid down the rules, such as no drinking, no infidelity, no fighting, and she wasn't going to sleep with him just because they could, he didn't think it would work. The first week or so was hell on him as he stopped drinking cold turkey and had to put up with the physical effects. As he started to sober up he realized that Gail was a lot more interesting that he had known before and that he was becoming attracted to her. He kept trying to get her to sleep with him and was surprised at her resistance. I loved seeing how his attitude got better the more time he was away from the old temptations. Their trip to Whiskey Creek started out with him miserable about it but he settled in really quickly. I really loved the way he stood up to Gail's father and brother. It was great to see how much he came to care for Gail and how he wanted to make their marriage real. I loved the ending and the way that he finally admitted what he really wanted in his life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    When Lightning Strikes – by Brenda Novak This is a lovely, clever, funny, thoughtful and ultimately romantic novel. It astonishes me that I have not had a lot of experience with this author and I am wondering how the heck I ever missed her. I’m going to make up for it now! Gail Demarco has made one of the biggest mistakes in her career. You can clearly see why she has cut loose Simon O’Neal since he is a drunk trying drink away the pain from the disappointments in his life. Now that Gail has cut h When Lightning Strikes – by Brenda Novak This is a lovely, clever, funny, thoughtful and ultimately romantic novel. It astonishes me that I have not had a lot of experience with this author and I am wondering how the heck I ever missed her. I’m going to make up for it now! Gail Demarco has made one of the biggest mistakes in her career. You can clearly see why she has cut loose Simon O’Neal since he is a drunk trying drink away the pain from the disappointments in his life. Now that Gail has cut him loose, his business manager rallies all of Simon’s friends to boycott (essentially) Gail’s PR business. Now she is going to lose her company. Gail really wants to save her company and keep her employees working. She really does care about those that depend on her. Gail finally decides to try to solve everyone’s problems by cleaning up Simon’s reputation. And how exactly is she going to do that you may ask…by marrying him off to a goody-two-shoes. This really was a great book. It had everything in it that a romance book lover could want. Inner angsting on Simon’s part(but not too much), a hateful but gorgeous ex-wife, and uber smart heroine, a sexy and witty hero, great secondary characters and an ending that will knock your socks off. I truly loved this book –it hit all my romantic buttons, let me shed a few tears and laugh out loud. It did the most important thing I think a book should do---it totally pulled me out of my own real-life problems and let me forget for a while. Thank you Ms Novak.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Loata93

    I liked this book better than I thought I would however I wasn't expecting much in the first place. In the beginning the hero is a huge jerkface and I'm not saying this lightly he actually (not intentionally) ruins the heroine's business and carries on like it's nothing. Bro!!! You just ruined someones livelihood and everyone that works for them??!! Holy crap his ignorance made me mad....however you do like him eventually and he changes in to a better guy blah blah blah. The heroine is a pretty c I liked this book better than I thought I would however I wasn't expecting much in the first place. In the beginning the hero is a huge jerkface and I'm not saying this lightly he actually (not intentionally) ruins the heroine's business and carries on like it's nothing. Bro!!! You just ruined someones livelihood and everyone that works for them??!! Holy crap his ignorance made me mad....however you do like him eventually and he changes in to a better guy blah blah blah. The heroine is a pretty cool chick and honestly I thought she was right in her decision to drop the hero from her PR business but her method needed a lil bit of work. I mean hello you own a friggin PR business I don't think any PR professional in real life would be that stupid to do what she did and handle things the way she did. In the end it wraps up pretty well and the hero gets better as he goes along but it takes him a while to realise a few things. The whole plot seemed a bit far fetched for me as well. PR marries famous dude to get him to look better? errm I don't think that would work in real life (seems like your typical mills&boon storyline), and the way the heroine is described she is not on his level at all in looks. I guess it's saying looks don't matter but in Hollywood I think they count for a lot especially for this guy. Maybe a better looking heroine would have been more believable. Overall maybe 3.5 stars?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Duck

    This wasn't bad but it wasn't mind blowing either. The first half of the book is slow. There are many things going on, but instead of actions that move the story forward, the characters spend way too much time in their own internal dialog. It didn't hold my attention and it was a struggle to get through. There was so much analyzing and thinking, I think it limited what could have been a fun and engaging story arc. The narrator is pleasant enough. If this had been in print I'm not sure that I woul This wasn't bad but it wasn't mind blowing either. The first half of the book is slow. There are many things going on, but instead of actions that move the story forward, the characters spend way too much time in their own internal dialog. It didn't hold my attention and it was a struggle to get through. There was so much analyzing and thinking, I think it limited what could have been a fun and engaging story arc. The narrator is pleasant enough. If this had been in print I'm not sure that I would have stuck with it. The male MC does something that is out of character and unbelievable toward the end of the story that took away from some of his appeal for me. If you don't have an aversion for internal dialog, you may like this more than I did.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Suzie Quint

    I like the marriage of convenience troupe, but it's rare to find it done well and believably in contemporary romance. Brenda Novak pulls it off here in a compelling way. I also like that while her hero is movie star rich (because he is one), the focus isn't on his money but on the misery of being in the media spotlight when your life is unraveling and how, no matter what you do, some people will never believe you can pull yourself back up. On top of that, Simon and Gail are such a well-matched c I like the marriage of convenience troupe, but it's rare to find it done well and believably in contemporary romance. Brenda Novak pulls it off here in a compelling way. I also like that while her hero is movie star rich (because he is one), the focus isn't on his money but on the misery of being in the media spotlight when your life is unraveling and how, no matter what you do, some people will never believe you can pull yourself back up. On top of that, Simon and Gail are such a well-matched couple, but neither sees that until circumstances force them to look below the surface. Once I started this, it was hard to put down. This is a solid 4-star read (maybe even 4.5)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    I wasn't a big fan of how this one started out. I don't really like the enemies to lovers trope, because of that I wasn't behind the farce that Gayle and Simon dreamed up to help him out. But with that said, I liked how each of them learned to see the other person in different ways, I really liked how Gayle became a bulldog with Simon to protect him. When the story shifted to Whiskey Creek things picked up for me. The slow pace was just what Simon needed. I liked how this one ended, loved that Si I wasn't a big fan of how this one started out. I don't really like the enemies to lovers trope, because of that I wasn't behind the farce that Gayle and Simon dreamed up to help him out. But with that said, I liked how each of them learned to see the other person in different ways, I really liked how Gayle became a bulldog with Simon to protect him. When the story shifted to Whiskey Creek things picked up for me. The slow pace was just what Simon needed. I liked how this one ended, loved that Simon was vindicated in his behavior and the new start for the family.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    For some reason this series has really pulled me in. I like the books I have read so far, enough to actually purchase them! Which is saying something when most of my books are either free or from the library. Yes, I am cheap!

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