REVIEW: When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak
Dear Ms. Novak:
I read the first in the Whiskey Creek series. It introduced us to a small town in California and a group of friends who have been connected since high school. They are close friends, up in your business, friends. They have conference calls and phone trees and none of your personal stuff ever stays private with these folks. It’s amazing and intrusive but actually comes off caring and welcoming in a strange way.
In “When Summer Comes”, Callie Vanetta has withdrawn from the group of friends, taken a sabbatical of sorts from her wedding and family photography business, and moved onto her grandparent’s farm. She’s done all these things because Callie has a form of non alcohol related liver disease and without a liver transplant, this summer will be her last. Caliie puts off telling her family and her friends because she does not want to feel their sorrow or their pity. She wanted to enjoy the last days of her life without the burdens of trying to be brave or assuring others that she will fight for her survival.
One night Levi McCloud appears on her doorstep, bloodied after an attack with a couple of pit bulls and in need of place to stay. Since Levi returned from Afghanistan, he’s been roaming from town to town on his motorcycle picking up odd jobs in exchange for housing and then moving on. When Callie sees him she thinks that she can’t save herself but maybe she can save him. She opens her home to Levi and eventually her heart.
The writing is overly simplisitic at times and there were too many medical terms explained to us in an inelegant fashion, much like an info dump in a fantasy book:
A week! Maybe she’d be gone before Levi…
She swallowed. “How bad is it?”
“It’s affected your MELD score by a fairly significant margin.”
The Model for Endstage Liver Disease or MELD score was how the United Network for Organ Sharing determined where she belonged on the national donor list. A computergenerated number between six and forty, based on blood tests, indicated how likely she was to die in the next ninety days without a transplant. The higher the number, the more serious her condition.
And really, because this was a romance Callie’s cure is a foregone conclusion. But Callie and Levi’s romance is rather sweet. Levi fell in love with a woman in Afghanistan but their love was forbidden and his mere attention to the woman placed her in danger. He still has strong feelings toward her years after he left her behind and he struggles with his attraction toward Callie. Levi doesn’t have a secret stash of wealth and he’s not going to sweep Callie off her feet but he’s strong and capable and decent.
Callie’s actions toward Levi are completely understandable in her circumstances and how she is depicted in the story. She wants to reach out to Levi and she lives, in some sense, without the barriers that may be in place in a normal situation. She’s honest about her attraction to Levi. She delights in buying him a few things like jeans or a shirt. Making someone else happy makes her happy.
Her close friends and their relationship troubles are a bit intrusive and I found them mostly irritating because they felt like they were they to set up future books than to provide insight into the burgeoning relationship between Levi and Callie.
Callie’s profession as a photographer is given almost no attention other than to make references to a few pictures in her house. Her point of view doesn’t reflect how she views things differently than someone else who doesn’t make a living capturing images. Levi’s past as a vet and a former MMA fighter are a little more integral to the storyline.
This is a slow moving romance and focuses almost more on Callie’s fight with her disease but the sweetness of the story drew me in. These Whiskey Creek novels are pleasant diversions. They aren’t breaking down barriers, but an escape from the non billionaire alpha hero was a relief. C+
First, want you to know that I absolutely loved When Summer Comes. My favorite parts were the parts about the inner private struggles of us everyday people. Not giving my age away here, but when I was younger, and had younger kids, I never thought about what I was saying. I just said it, and damn the consequences. Now, I am older and so are my kids. It seems like I am weighing every word, and agonizing endlessly, sleepless nights and all before every word I utter. It is so very frustrating. So when I see, hear, read other people going thru what I do, I can sympathize and feel what you write. I really like that and makes me appreciate you and others like you, more.
FYI, I did not buy or borrow or steal this book. In fact, I was quite surprised to receive it in my mail, addressed to me from you, along with a bookmark. So, first, a big thank you for that. I have no idea why and how I was chosen for this wonderful gift, but since it was also my birthday, I will not argue. I will just say thank you. You may send me surprises at any time for no no reason, anytime.
Also, good luck and best wishes for the diabetes charity you work so hard at.
Thanks, Jane, for doing the review. I appreciate the feedback (good and bad). And thank you, Kantu, for your thoughts, as well. You must’ve won the book in a contest or something–or you were accidentally put on our reviewer list. LOL How funny that the book arrived on your birthday. Happy belated birthday (since I’m assuming it was a couple of week ago). And I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
I absolutely loved this book. I give it an A+. Brenda is an amazing writer. My favorite book ever written is The fault in our stars by John Green. In my mind, nothing really compared. After finishing that book, I would try to read some Nicholas Sparks and become bored almost instantly. I tried to find some newer books. Emily Giffin is another one of my favorites. I really like romantic novels that are well done and have a good plot. So, when I was scanning through the books at the Book store, ” When summer comes” caught my eye. I pulled it out and read the description. I didn’t even finish reading it, and put it in my cart. I just knew that I was going to love it. Theres something about books that have to do with one of the main characters facing a disease that I love. It makes the romance 10 times more passionate since the characters life is potentially being cut short. I read the book in 2 days, and it couldn’t have turned out better. Although it didn’t beat The fault in our stars, it is my second favorite..and I have read a lot of books. Brenda Novak is my new favorite author and I have all of her books in my cart on Amazon. Although I read “When Summer Comes” first out of the whiskey creek series, I feel it didn’t spoil anything. I love how all of the books are connected but not in an obvious way i.e. the hunger games. Thank you Brenda for a sensational book, I will be keeping it with me for the rest of my life so that I get to read it over and over again.
Victoria, what a very nice thing to read. Thank you for your enthusiasm and feedback. I’m flattered to be considered your new favorite author, and am thrilled that you enjoyed WHEN SUMMER COMES so much. I appreciate your comments.