When We Touch by Brenda Novak

When We Touch by Brenda NovakWhen We Touch is the introductory novella for the Whiskey Creek series. As such, it offered a fun glimpse of this small town and the underlying conflicts within it. But more than that, the novella tells a lovely story about overcoming your doubts and giving love a chance.

That summary might seem odd when the base premise is of a sister stealing the main character’s boyfriend by getting pregnant, but it works. The boyfriend, in a weak moment with Olivia away for a year, steps into the pile of mud that characterizes Olivia’s relationship with her sister. This puts in motion a wild set of events that could so easily have been disastrous but instead open Olivia’s eyes.

When We Touch uses a few of my favorite themes, from the long-term unrequited or unrecognized attraction to the importance of being truthful. The attraction between the characters was beautifully described, while the intimacy is on the light end of contemporary romance.

For a novella, it packed in the complexity. Dysfunctional families is the baseline driver for this story, from how Olivia’s sister behaves to how Brandon (the male lead) has felt second best since his mother remarried, a state he encourages by not speaking up to counter false assumptions even now that he’s an adult.

I love the character development in each one who got a “speaking” role, though I found it odd when Kyle, the cheating boyfriend, grabbed center stage.

At the same time, it was a lovely description of Kyle’s internal battles and succeeds in piquing my interest about what’s going to happen to him now. He’s ultimately a good guy who did something stupid but plans to live up to his mistakes, a conviction hard to see from the outside, and opening the potential for more to the story.

I enjoyed how the people in this town look out for each other and influence each other for the better. I did feel the novella ends a bit abruptly, and this is another entry in the blackmailing pregnancy (though a twist in that it succeeds). However, there was a lot of value to overcome both these elements. There are several life-altering “maybe” moments that upped the tension, places where the main characters have to make a choice that will directly affect the whole story.

I had fun in Whiskey Creek. With the, sometimes misguided, efforts to support demonstrated by practically everyone I met in this town, I can see how it provides a fertile ground for the whole series.

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