Wedding planner Olivia Arnold has a new client – her sister. What should be a joyous family event feels more like a nightmare to Olivia because Noelle is marrying Kyle Houseman, the man Olivia thought she would one day marry. A short break in their relationship gave Noelle the opening she needed to move in on Kyle. Now Noelle is pregnant and noble Kyle is doing “the right thing.” Olivia has returned to her hometown of Whiskey Creek, in the heart of California’s Gold Country, to do her own version of the right thing: helping her family deliver a picture-perfect wedding with all of the frills, on a budget.
All of Kyle’s friends know he’s making a terrible mistake. Even Kyle admits he doesn’t love Noelle. But does he love Olivia? Will he go through with a marriage for all of the wrong reasons or stand up for his own happiness? Will Olivia survive the torturous weekend? Can she accept Kyle’s decision and find comfort in another pair of arms?
When New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak delivers a novella, readers can settle in for an adventurous ride through human emotions and motivations. Novak paints a compelling story with deeply moving characters. Her Whiskey Creek novels trace the stories of the town’s residents through love and sorrow, triumph and tragedy. “When We Touch” introduces the group of high school friends whose lives continue to intersect long after graduation.
The novella maintains a brisk pace. Novak demonstrates her deep understanding of motivation as Kyle and Olivia dance around their feelings and Noelle seethes with both jealousy and triumph. As Olivia struggles to maintain her dignity in the face of Noelle’s behavior, we see a sibling rivalry that has stretched for too many years to be ignored. Olivia’s desire to help her parents may fall victim to her sister’s meanness.
Another rivalry displays itself in the relationship between Kyle, a solar energy entrepreneur, and his stepbrother Brandon Lucero, a successful competitive skier. Brandon’s globe-trotting lifestyle doesn't meet the family standards for proper adult behavior and the rest of the family reminds him of his shortcomings with regularity.
Novak tackles issues of maturity, familial obligation and honorable behavior in “When We Touch.” The story’s powerful content belies its shorter form. The people and settings serve as an appetizer, perfect to draw readers back for the main course of the Whiskey Creek novels. The list currently contains four full-length novels: “When Lightning Strikes,” “When Snow Falls,” “When Summer Comes” and “Home to Whiskey Creek.” A fifth volume, “Take Me Home for Christmas,” releases in late October.
The novella will please romance readers with its elements of unspoken feelings and sacrificial actions. Gold Country fans will enjoy the well-drawn descriptions of the Foothills. Brenda Novak fans will find everything they expect from one of her works.
“When We Touch” comes in electronic book form. Check with your favorite eBook vendor for the novella, or link through Novak’s website to sources.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy provided by the author with no restrictions as to content. All opinions are my own.