Simon O'Neal's causing trouble again. And it's up to Gail DeMarco to stop him.
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
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!
It's been some time since I read a good contemporary romance so I was delighted to win a copy of When Lightning Strikes from a Goodreads giveaway. I settled into reading it, not having read anything by Brenda Novak before. I'm happy to say that while I saw where this one was headed early on, I really enjoyed the journey. When Lightning Strikes is about a couple who come together and get married for all the wrong reasons as they don't even like each other. Plain Jane Gail DeMarco is an in-charge business woman running her successful PR company in Los Angeles. Simon O'Neal is a drop dead gorgeous movie star spiraling out of control, using both women and booze. This odd couple's journey begins in turmoil when Gail agrees to marry Simon to improve his image in hopes of getting his son back, in exchange for Simon helping her get her clients back. The marriage bargain is struck for two years...and sex is NOT part of the deal. Right?!
Simon and Gail's marriage begins as a business arrangement with neither wanting or expecting anything more. Gail realizes the only way to help Simon is to get him out of Los Angeles, away from the temptation of both his friends and vices. She convinces him to move with her back to her small hometown, Whiskey Creek. Realizing that he is in serious trouble of never seeing his son again, Simon agrees to live in the little town for 3 months and clean up his act. As their journey begins, they face obstacles one by one - each learning truths and vulnerabilities about the other, as well as strengths. Whiskey Creek and its lifelong residents add a delightful layer to this story, from the small town atmosphere where everyone knows everyone to the acceptance by the locals of the movie star. Will it be enough?
I was surprised to find that I genuinely liked these characters. Gail is a take charge 31 year old woman who doesn't need a man to take care of her. While not a raving beauty, she is prettier than she herself thinks but has a complex over not being "pretty enough" to compete with the bombshells that Simon is continuously photographed with. Since this is a "business arrangement", she is able to let loose, convincing herself that it really doesn't matter as they'll only be together two years anyway. Simon is the sexy movie star that everyone wants a piece of but he is also hiding a vulnerability. He's given up on having anyone accept him for what's inside. He really needs someone to care about the man and see him for what he truly is, not just the movie star. Mix in some secondary characters with their own agenda and things get very complicated for this couple. Simon's past comes knocking, threatening to destroy the relationship Gail is beginning to hope might last beyond the two year contract.
When I started When Lightning Strikes, I must admit I was afraid it would be a bit frivolous...plain girl falls for movie star, but it doesn't take long to realize there is more to this book. The author does an outstanding job of peeling back the layers of these characters and getting to what's hidden beneath. What started out as typical, quickly turned into something more as I found myself rooting for Simon and Gail. This is my first Brenda Novak book but it won't be my last! A great read!
Rating: 4 Pretty ♥♥♥♥'s...And that's the truth!
Cross My Heart...xxx