Series: Whiskey Creek #5
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by MIRA on 29 October 2013
Reading Challenges: 2013 Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon
Many think Sophia DeBussi deserves whatever she gets. There are many who are jealous of her rich lifestyle and beauty. She endured years of hell with her abusive husband Skip but when he dies unexpectedly after defrauding the town, Sophia finds out just how little people think of her. Her ex Ted Dixon reluctantly agrees to hire her as his housekeeper but he is determined not to fall for her again.
Sophie is so very fragile but she never completely breaks under the pressure. Her assets are frozen by the FBI until they can work out her culpability, her in-laws want to take her daughter Alexa, her mentally-ill mother doesn’t recognise her and the townsfolk think she has money secreted somewhere. Sophie is a former alcoholic and resisting the urge to drink is very difficult. She was physically, mentally and emotionally abused by her husband but seemed to see everything bad that happened as a kind of penance for being a spoilt teenager. Ted’s employment offer is a life-line and Sophie treats it as such. I cringed when she timidly offered him the meals she had created and even failed to take breaks because she was so desperate to keep the job. She expected to be treated like dirt and even handed over the keys to her house so that Skip’s creditors could take everything they wanted in kind. I wish she had been given a chance to stand on her own however even for a little without needing a man to survive as it would have made her relationship with Ted more balanced.
Ted is more of a tarnished somewhat immature hero than a knight in shining armour. He never got over Sophie dumping him and marrying her husband so over the years he has done his best to bad-mouth her and made her feel unwelcome at the weekly coffee sessions. As soon as Sophie comes to work for him, he pursues a relationship with the only friend Sophie has (Eve) so that he is unavailable even though he doesn’t have any passion for her. Poor Sophie now has no one else to rely on other than him and she’s aware this support could be removed at any time. He knew that Skip used to make her do things she was uncomfortable with and the effect it had on her so I couldn’t understand why he would physically hold on to her in order to force her to stay while his mother verbally abused her. He seemed to finally ‘get it’ at the end but he is definitely the dominant partner in the relationship.
The way everyone gunned for Sophie made the little town of Whiskey Creek far less appealing than it had been. Yes people had lost money and that is tragic but there are proper avenues to go down rather than emptying her house of basic necessities. Even the pastor and the chief of police were in on it!
Sophie was a fantastically flawed character who underwent a significant journey over the course of the novel. I actually got teary at one point because yet another burden was heaped on her shoulders. I realise it makes for an unbalanced review but I was so invested in how Sophie dealt with her woes that I didn’t concentrate on the romance as much when I was reading the book.