Monday, April 6, 2015

This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

Brenda Novak is a straight three-mile author for me with occasional forays into the four-mile category (A random note, I give very few five-mile reviews so three is darn good). Part of the reason that I keep reading her books is that her stories make me so darn uncomfortable, often tackling hard subjects. In this book, it's the return of a girl who got knocked up as a teenager and was accused of running down the girl her ex dumped her for. 17 years later, she's just getting out of prison and returning home to Whiskey Creek to live with the obese, hoarder mother who has just gotten worse since she's been gone. No, Phoenix Fuller is not your ordinary romance heroine.

The story opens with Phoenix meeting her now sixteen-year-old son along with his father, Riley Stinson. Riley is understandably cautious. After all, this is a woman who was convicted of killing someone.
Phoenix keeps reminding herself that she was wrongly accused (do we need to know this so many times?) but that doesn't seem to help her confidence levels much. After all, it's not like she has a lot to live for.  And going to prison didn't help.
But somehow, Riley and Phoenix work together to find a way to integrate themselves back into a family, complete with an HEA.
She was not a very likable character. Do we really want a martyr who has forgiven all her enemies as a heroine? Most of the book was spent propping up her self-esteem and she wasn't even the one to set up a confrontation with Penny, Riley had to set it all up for her. And then to have no consequences for Penny... It's hard. But, actually, now that I think of it, very consistent with Novak's writing style.
I also wasn't really sure of the romance between these two. It was a little tepid and I didn't really see the attraction between Riley and Phoenix. The plus side was that there was no insta-love. The relationship between Phoenix and her son was perfect though

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