Review: When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak

June 25, 2013 Reviews 0 Comments

Review: When Lightning Strikes by Brenda NovakWhen Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak
Series: Whiskey Creek #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by MIRA on 1 January 2012
Pages: 448
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When Lightning Strikes is a sweet contemporary romance with a marriage of convenience between Simon, the bad boy actor and his ex-publicist Gail. Simon was one of Gail’s A-list celebrities but his drinking and behaviour got so out of control that she was forced to drop him. His agent hit back by taking away nearly all of Gail’s clients. Gail decides that the only way to save her PR firm and help Simon get custody of his child is to rebrand Simon. Simon 2.0 needed a squeaky clean image and the easiest way to create that was through marriage. Simon wasn’t totally convinced though as not only did he have to give up the booze, Gail wasn’t willing to accommodate his other needs.

Simon’s divorce sent him into a tailspin and he found refuge in alcohol and a large number of willing women. Gail recognises that he is suffering and needs a complete break from Hollywood so she whisks him back home to Whiskey Creek. Simon is fairly likable once he sobers up and soon charms all of Gail’s friends. The speed at which he got over his alcoholism was unrealistic – there is no easy solution and I understand that former alcoholics still get the urge to imbibe. He is incapable of managing his own life and basically implodes until Gail came along. I didn’t buy Gail making such unprofessional and very damning statements about Simon given her job in PR. I also couldn’t sympathise with her when she whinged about how negative everyone is towards him as she created the situation.

Some of the representations of women troubled me. Gail spent a good deal of time and energy building her business which cannot be easy in an industry such as Hollywood and yet she threw all of that away to play house with Simon. Her sacrifice is noble but Simon has to give up very little in return making their relationship unequal. Simon’s ex-wife is painted in very broad strokes as a conniving, malevolent creature that is determined to separate Simon from his son. The novel repeatedly states that there are two sides to every breakup and yet we don’t really see what drove her to such extreme lengths. She was designed to make Gail look good but I think there was a missed opportunity here. Why could only Simon find redemption and not her? Secondary character Sophia was clearly being abused by her husband and yet chose to stay with him because she was afraid of losing custody. Gail doesn’t direct Sophia towards programs that support victims of domestic abuse which was another missed opportunity.

I enjoyed watching the relationship between Gail and Simon unfold even though I didn’t like some of the underlying gender messages.

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