Tuesday, December 3, 2013

When Lightning Strikes - Brenda Novak (Mira - Sept 2012)

Series: Whiskey Creek (Book 1)

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!

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.

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