This Heart of Mine (Whiskey Creek #8) by Brenda Novak
Released: March 31, 2015
Genre: Contemporary romance
Reviewed by Sarah
On the Flap
First love. Second chance?
As the daughter of a hoarder, Phoenix Fuller had a tough childhood. So when the handsome, popular Riley Stinson became her boyfriend in high school, she finally felt as though she had something to be proud of. Phoenix was desperate not to lose him—especially once she found out she was pregnant. Yes, she might have acted a bit obsessive when he broke up with her. But she did not run down the girl he started dating next!
Unfortunately, there was no way to prove her innocence. Now, after serving her time in prison, Phoenix has been released. All she wants to do is return to Whiskey Creek and get to know her son. But Jacob's father isn't exactly welcoming.
Riley doesn't trust Phoenix, doesn't want her in Jacob's life. He is, however, ready to find someone to love. And he wants a good mother for his son. He has no idea that he's about to find both—if they can forgive the mistakes in their past…
Phoenix didn’t have a great childhood. As somewhat of an odd duckling with an outcast mother, the odds were stacked against her before she even started. In high school she had a brief but intense relationship with Riley but after and a breakup and subsequent accident, she was blamed in the death of another high school student. Regardless of her constant claim of innocence, she was sent to prison for a good amount of her life.
Now out, she returns to the town that hates her so she can care for her mother. In spite of the animosity she feels from her ex and the rest of the citizens, she tries to push forward and make a life for herself and even begins to form a relationship with her son for the first time.
Riley was the big man on campus in high school, a star baseball player and overall exceptional student. During his brief fling with Phoenix, he crumbled to the pressure of his parents and others to get rid of her mostly because she didn’t fit in and they felt she’d just bring him down. Throughout her incarceration he continues to disregard everything about her, finding her to be more of a nuisance than anything else. Now as an adult and truly more so with the help of their son, he begins to doubt her guilt.
I love, LOVE this book! It’s a hugely emotional saga chronicling second chances but not necessarily in the way you expect. In this story that second chance has to occur on both sides. Due to her extreme amount of time behind bars, Phoenix is largely unfamiliar with the world as an adult. She has missed out on so much. She is, however, a damaged soul; she gets that she has and will continue to be judged by appearances and perceptions, and unjustly so. She has to learn to trust people again.
As a bit of a control freak, I hate to admit to crying but I will say there were tears in no less than six chapters. This entire story is almost like a case study of human behavior, how people treat one another, and what outside parameters can change those acuities. I appreciate that even with her injured spirit; Phoenix is still strong, empathetic, and looking to create a bright future even though it begins with grim circumstances.
Having been a fan of the Whiskey Creeks series for a while, I’ll easily say this is my favorite. It’s a real underdog type story with a happy ending. It’s filled with hope, forgiveness, and love.
Rating: 5 Stars
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I have a large appetite for books with pensive alpha males. I tend to lean towards erotica and contemporary romance. I am completely addicted to my Kindle and feel naked when it’s not with me. If you have any recommendations, feel free to email them. I’m a single-ish woman with two crazy dogs. I also love football and basketball. Living in Oklahoma City, my teams are the Thunder and Sooners.