Goodreads ~ Christmas is a time for remembering .
Too bad all memories aren't pleasant. Everyone in Whiskey Creek remembers Sophia DeBussi as the town's Mean Girl. Especially Ted Dixon, whose love she once scorned.
But Sophia has paid the price for her youthful transgressions. The man she did marry was rich and powerful but abusive. So when he goes missing, she secretly hopes he'll never come back - until she learns that he died running from an FBI probe of his investment firm. Not only has he left Sophia penniless, he's left her to face all the townspeople he cheated
Sophia is reduced to looking for any kind of work to pay the bills and support her daughter. With no other options, she becomes housekeeper for none other than Ted, now a successful suspense writer. He can't bring himself to turn his back on her, not at Christmas, but he refuses to get emotionally involved. He learned his lesson the last time.
Or will the season of love and forgiveness give them both another chance at happiness?
While Sophia and Ted were dating after high school, she was also dating Skip. She got pregnant and married Skip and went on to have what everyone assumed was a pampered rich life. Needless to say, Ted was heartbroken and never got over Sophia.
Fastforward to today. Skip has cheated the townspeople out of most of their savings. Being a coward, he tries to escape his life and the wrongs he has committed but accidentally dies. Everyone assumed Sophia was in on the scam and look to her to get their money back ... except she has been left penniless and has to carry the burden that Skip left behind.
She has to support herself and her daughter. With no other options or family to turn to, she takes the job as Ted's housekeeper. Though still carrying a grudge, he feels sorry for her because the town has turned against her. Gradually it comes out that Skip was very abusive to Sophia and she had turned to liquor to get through the day. She'd recently been through rehab and it's a daily struggle to stay sober ... if she doesn't, her in-laws will use this against her and take her daughter away from her.
This is the fourth book I've read by this author and the third I've read in the Whiskey Creek series ... and I enjoyed it. I liked the storyline and the writing style. I thought it was well-paced and kept me interested. The language and activity at times is for a mature reader.
I liked the characters. Sophia had made some wrong choices, wasn't well-liked but has paid the price over the years. She has matured and changed and was caught in a bad abusive situation. She was happy that Skip died because it gave her her freedom and the ability to be who she really was rather than the image that Skip wanted projected. Despite the fact that almost everyone in the town hates her, rather than give up, she does what she can to right Skip's wrong and make a life for her and her daughter. Ted is a rich successful mystery writer who is still bitter that Sophia had broken his heart. I found this a bit unbelievable considering it had happened more than ten years ago and they were both young ... I felt like smacking him in the head and telling him to move on! But I liked his transition as he got to know the Sophia of today. I liked Alexis, Sophia's daughter. Her whole world has turned upside down ... her father has died, everything has been taken from them because of her father's scam, her friends have turned on her and she's always scared her mother's going to turn to the bottle again.
The story wraps up rather quickly for a neat and tidy happy ending.
Though it's part of a series, it works as a stand alone. This series is
built around a group of friends and acquaintances in Whiskey Creek. My
one complaint about this book (and I felt the same when I read Home to Whiskey Creek)
is that I found that sometimes it seemed like the author was making too
much of an effort to include the characters and their backgrounds from
the other books in the series. Despite there being a list of characters
at the beginning of the book (I read it on my Kobo so it was hard to
keep going back and forth), I still found it confusing keeping track
since some didn't have big parts (or any part) in this book ... it was
like they were mentioned just because they were part of this series, not
because they added value to the story. All I needed to know was that
they were all at the coffee shop chatting ... I didn't need to know or
be reminded of their details. Or when they were at the Halloween party
and Baxter, who is gay and has a crush on Noah, showed up with someone
else ... it had no impact on this story (I thought that was a weird
subplot in Home to Whiskey Creek
anyway). Or the big secret that Cheyenne revealed to Eve ... yes, it
showed that they are close but I knew that without needing the details
of the secret which had nothing to do with Sophia and Ted.
I'd recommend this book and look forward to reading the others in the series.