The Talk of Coyote Canyon by Brenda Novak

Posted 30 November, 2023 by Heather in Audiobook, Blog, Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Bookworms, Heather, Heather Book Review / 0 Comments

The Talk of Coyote Canyon by Brenda NovakThe Talk of Coyote Canyon by Brenda Novak
Published by Harlequin on November 28, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Family Life / Marriage & Divorce, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Small Town & Rural, Fiction / Women
Pages: 400

She’s not here to make friends. She’s here to make trouble.
With her piercings, tattoos and spiky blond hair, Ellen Truesdale doesn’t quite fit in with the other folks in Coyote Canyon—and that’s just fine with her. She’s only here to put her father out of business, as payback for abandoning her when she was young.
Or is she more interested in finally proving that she was worth keeping?
Either way, she’s struggling to keep her rival well-drilling company afloat. And being a single woman in a male-dominated field has started to take a toll. So when Hendrix Durrant steps in to help, Ellen has no choice but to let him—even though he happens to be her father’s business partner and therefore her enemy. But the closer she works with him, the more she sees what she’s been missing…in life and love. And once she lets go of her anger long enough to learn the truth about her past, she might just find the family she’s always wanted.

Coyote Canyon

Book 1: Talulah's Back in Town
Book 2: The Talk of Coyote Canyon
Book 3: The Messy Lives of Jane Tanner

I’ve always enjoyed Brenda Novak’s romance novels. Her latest installment in the Coyote Canyon series is THE TALK OF COYOTE CANYON. I have an excerpt for you today as well as my review of the audiobook. Enjoy!


Hendrix Durrant eyed his longtime neighbor, speaking with a hard-edged frustration he didn’t bother to conceal. “You’re hiring Ellen? Really, Jay? You’ve been talking to me about getting this well dug for the past eight months. You’ve had me meet you out here two or three times for details on where to drill, how deep to go, what size pump you’ll need to get enough water, what we’ll do if we encounter sand, and on and on. And now you’re going with my competitor?”

Jay Haslem, a forty-something mechanic who was finally getting the chance to build a nicer home outside the small town of Coyote Canyon, Montana, where Hendrix had lived since he was eleven and Jay had lived his whole life, shoved his hands in the pockets of his grease-stained overalls and stared down at the dirt. “Well, she’s not really your competitor, is she?”

Hendrix rested his hands on his hips. “She does the same thing I do, but her business is completely separate from mine. Wouldn’t you call that competition?”

“Yeah, but…she’s Stuart’s daughter. And he’s married to your aunt Lynn. I know you’re not related, but you’re sort of…connected, right?” He offered Hendrix a weak grin, which Hendrix immediately wiped from his face with a heated retort.

“Not only are we not related, I barely know her and hate that she moved to town two and a half years ago, because ever since then, she’s made a concerted effort to become a major pain in my ass.”

“It’s just that…her dad’s married to your aunt,” Jay said again.

Lynn had raised Hendrix from the first year she married Stuart, after his mother died of breast cancer. Everyone knew he’d been taken in out of the goodness of her heart, that he would’ve gone into the foster care system otherwise. It wasn’t as if he had a father, like most other kids. His mother, Angie, who’d lived and worked as a venture capital analyst in San Francisco, where attitudes were more liberal in general, had been so determined to have a child on her own terms she’d used a sperm bank, never imagining what might happen to him if she wasn’t around. That meant, once she was gone, he’d been lucky to have extended family who would give him a home. “I don’t care. That doesn’t change anything.”

Jay winced as he pulled on his beard. “My wife likes her, Hendrix. Thea’s the one who promised her the job. Not me. Ellen’s a tough little thing, a go-getter. We… I don’t know, we admire that kind of gumption, I guess. After all, there aren’t many women in your field.”

Jay’s, either. Not too many female mechanics around… But Hendrix was too focused on other things to point that out. “You admire her gumption,” he echoed, chuckling humorlessly. “You’re giving her the job because she’s—” he used air quotes “—a tough little thing.”

Once again, Jay shifted uncomfortably. “That and…she’s saving us a few bucks, of course.”

“Of course,” Hendrix echoed flatly. Ellen had been undercutting him and Stuart since she moved to town. “How much is a few bucks?”

“She said—” He stopped and cleared his throat before finishing in a mumble, “She said she’d do it for a thousand less than whatever you bid.”

“Excuse me?” Hendrix had heard him fine, but he wanted to make his neighbor state, clearly, the reason he’d chosen Ellen. This wasn’t about supporting a female-owned company in a largely male-dominated field, as Jay had tried to claim a few minutes ago. This was nothing more than pure self-interest. Ellen had been working day and night since she moved to Coyote Canyon, just to best him and Stuart, her father. Hendrix knew that was true because, in some cases, she was—had to be—drilling wells and replacing and repairing pumps for next to no profit, other than the pleasure of taking jobs that would otherwise have gone to them.

“She said she didn’t have the time to come out and bid, but she’d do it for a thousand less than what you said you’d do it for,” Jay repeated. “All we had to do was give her the paperwork you left with us.”

“You handed over my bid? Now she can order the supplies and get you on her schedule without spending any of the time I’ve invested in assessing your needs.”

Jay hung his head. “I’m sorry. You know I don’t have a lot of money. Thea and I have held on to this property for several years, hoping to save enough to start improving it, or…or I would’ve gone with you no matter what.”

Drawing a deep breath, which he immediately blew out, Hendrix stared over Jay’s shoulder at the rugged Montana terrain that constituted his neighbor’s five-acre dream parcel. Ever since Ellen Truesdale came to town, he’d made a point of avoiding her. If he ran into her by accident—in a population of only three thousand it was impossible not to encounter each other every once in a while—he nodded politely, so she wouldn’t know how much it bothered him to have her around. But she never responded. She just gave him that unflinching, steely-eyed gaze of hers that let him know she was gunning for him.

Despite that, he’d remained determined not to let her get to him. But as time wore on, and she stole more business from him and Stuart, she was harder and harder to ignore.

Why couldn’t she have sold the place her grandparents had given her here in town and remained in Anaconda, where she’d been born and raised? Anaconda was twice the size of Coyote Canyon; there had to be more people in that part of the state who were looking to drill a water well. Actually, he knew that to be true because he and Stuart occasionally drilled a well or helped with a pump out that way—Fetterman Well Services ranged over the whole state and even went into Utah and Nevada. And if Ellen had stayed in Anaconda, which was almost two hours from Coyote Canyon, their paths would most likely never have crossed.

But Hendrix knew her decision had very little to do with where she could make the most money—or even where she might be happiest. She had a vendetta against her father, who’d left her mother when Ellen was only ten to marry Hendrix’s aunt, and she was determined to make him pay for walking out on them. Hendrix and his cousin, Leo, whom he considered as close as a brother, were just the visible representation of all she resented.

“No problem,” he told his neighbor as he started back to his truck. “Here’s hoping she does a decent job for you.”

“Are you saying she might not?” Jay called after him, sounding alarmed.

Hendrix didn’t acknowledge the question, let alone answer it. Undermining Jay’s trust in Ellen was a cheap shot—beneath him, really. Ellen knew what she was doing. In many ways, she ran her business better than Stuart ran the one Hendrix had helped him build since he was brought from San Francisco. She didn’t have the resources or the experience they did, but she was a quick study. From what he’d heard, she was also detail-oriented—stayed right on top of everything—and since Fetterman had two crews consisting of three employees each, and covered a much bigger area, he had no doubt she was operating with far less overhead, so she could be nimble.

Although Stuart insisted they didn’t have anything to worry about when it came to Ellen—that she’d give up trying to get back at him and eventually move on—Hendrix was beginning to realize that wasn’t true. Stuart was just avoiding the problem because he felt guilty about the past. And the more he avoided it, the worse it got.

When Ellen Truesdale heard a vehicle pull up, she assumed it was Ben Anderson, her only employee. She’d finally sent him out to grab some lunch. Since breakfast early this morning, they’d been too busy to eat, and she was starving. He had to be, too; it was almost three. At twenty-one, he seemed to consume twice his body weight in food each day. But when she finished welding the steel casing they were putting down the well and flipped up her helmet, she saw that it wasn’t Ben. Hendrix Durrant had just parked next to her older and much less expensive pickup.

Since Hendrix hadn’t actually spoken to her since she came to town, she was more than a little surprised he’d driven out to her jobsite. That meant he was here with a very specific intention.

Setting her torch aside, she removed her helmet entirely and shoved up the long sleeves of her shirt. She had no idea what he wanted, but whatever it was…she couldn’t imagine she was going to like it.

Instead of approaching her right away, he slipped his hands into the pockets of his well-worn jeans and studied her GEFCO rotary drilling rig. Maybe he’d assumed she couldn’t afford a top-head drive, which enabled her to advance the casing that blocked off the sand and gravel as she drilled, and was shocked to see it. She could understand why that might be true. A rig like hers cost almost a million dollars, and she’d never had the luxury of being able to ride on her father’s coattails. If she hadn’t been able to take out a loan against the house and property her paternal grandparents had passed on to her, she wouldn’t have had the down payment necessary to purchase it. And if she’d had to settle for an older rig, it would’ve made her job much more difficult.

As it was, her payments were almost ten thousand a month, and that didn’t include the water truck she’d also had to buy. Fortunately, it wasn’t nearly as expensive as the rig. She’d managed to find a used one in Moab, Utah, for only fifty thousand. But it all added up. She had a lot on the line, which was why she worked so damn hard.

“Is there something I can do for you?” she asked, tensing in spite of all the self-talk that insisted there was no reason to be nervous. She didn’t care if she had a confrontation with her father and those connected to him. She’d been spoiling for a fight with them almost as far back as she could remember. Except for Leo, of course. Leo was harmless. Everyone knew that.

Hendrix turned to face her. She hadn’t moved toward him, hadn’t closed one inch of the gap between them. If he wanted to speak to her, he was going to have to cross that distance himself—which he did, reluctantly from what she could tell.

“You’ve been in town for two and a half years now,” he said.

She wiped the sweat from her face before giving him a smirk. “I didn’t realize you’d been counting.”

His eyebrows slid up. “I’ve only been counting because you’ve been doing everything you possibly can to make me notice you—and now I have.”

She barked a laugh. “Am I supposed to be excited about that?” She had to admit most women would be. With sandy-blond hair, smooth golden skin and wide, sky blue eyes, he reminded her of Brad Pitt in Troy—mostly because of the structure of his face but also his build. She couldn’t claim he was hard to look at.

“I was hoping to convince you to come over and talk to your father,” he said. “Scream and yell, say whatever you want, but quit trying to punish him by ruining our business.”

She removed her leather gloves and slapped them against her thigh, which made him take a step back to avoid breathing in the resulting cloud of dust. “I have nothing to say to my father.”

“Obviously you do, or you wouldn’t be living here.”

“In case you’re not aware of it, my grandparents gave me their house, and it happens to be here. I guess you didn’t quite manage to replace me in their affections.”

“I didn’t try to replace you at all. I’m sorry if you feel I did. But just so you know, your grandpa and grandma Fetterman have been good to me, too.”

She shrugged off his words. “Only because they’re nice to everyone.”

“Maybe so, but just because you got their house doesn’t mean you have to live in it. You could sell if you wanted to…”

“That’s the thing.” It took effort, but she brightened her smile for his benefit. “I like it here.”

“Come on,” he said. “Be honest. You’re only staying because you think it bugs your father.”

“That’s not all,” she said with a taunting grin. “I’m staying because it bugs you, too.”

“And that makes you happy?”

“Happier,” she clarified.

He shook his head. “There’s something wrong with you. What’re you trying to do? Prove you can build the same business we’ve built on your own?”

“And do it even better,” she said with apparent satisfaction. That had been her goal for a long time, ever since she’d finished college at Montana State with a degree in business and returned to Anaconda to help her mother make ends meet. After seeing her father become successful drilling water wells, she’d decided to do the same thing. She knew she didn’t want to get stuck waiting tables forever, and Anaconda didn’t offer a great deal of opportunity.

But it hadn’t been easy to get started. If she hadn’t managed to convince Ross Moore, a successful driller in Anaconda, to hire her, she wouldn’t have had the chance. But she’d needed only two years of experience, drilling fifteen wells under a licensed contractor, in order to get her own license. So Ross had eventually agreed—just to be a nice guy, she thought—and wound up being so happy with her work he’d kept her as his business expanded until her grandparents gave her their house in Coyote Canyon two and a half years ago, and she decided to go out on her own.

Hendrix’s eyes narrowed. “I’ve been pleasant so far, haven’t lifted a finger to stop you. I don’t want to—” he spread out his hands “—do anything that would harm you, even financially.”

“If there was anything you could do to me financially, you would’ve done it already,” she pointed out, which only seemed to enrage him further.

“Our company’s bigger than yours,” he said with a hard set to his jaw.

Our company. She was Stuart’s daughter. Hendrix was only his second wife’s nephew. He stood to take over the business when Stuart died, since Leo wasn’t capable, but he wasn’t even considered a true partner at this point. As she understood it, he was only on salary. And yet, when Hendrix lost his mother to breast cancer, her father had not only allowed Lynn to take him into their home, he’d chosen Hendrix over her in every regard. No doubt Stuart assumed Hendrix was stronger and more capable than she was, but she was bound and determined to prove he’d significantly underestimated her abilities. “That’s obvious.” She gave him the once-over. “But bigger isn’t always better.”

He stepped closer, too close for comfort, which was probably his intent, and glared down his nose at her. “It is in this case. Don’t make me put you out of business.”

He turned on his heel to stalk back to his truck, but she called after him. “You couldn’t put me out of business if you tried!”

He stopped before opening his door. “We have deeper pockets than you do, Ellen. We can play the price game, too. What if I were to go around to all your jobs and offer to drill cheaper? You’re saying I couldn’t steal your next six months of work from you?”

“You’ll be taking a heavy loss if you do!”

He studied her for several seconds. “I’m beginning to think it would be worth it.”

The size of her monthly bills—the payment she had to make on her rig alone—sent a tremor of foreboding through her. She couldn’t withstand a full-on battle with her father and Hendrix. Not one that went on for very long, at least. She needed to back off. But she couldn’t. “You don’t scare me!” she yelled. “I’ll take you on. I’ll take on both you sons of bitches!”

His tires spun dirt and gravel as he backed up and nearly hit Ben, who was just coming back in his Jeep.

Ben slammed on his brakes in the nick of time and waited for Hendrix to swerve around him. Then he got out, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, and walked over to where Ellen stood at the rig. “That was Hendrix Durrant, wasn’t it?” he said. “I told you he wouldn’t like what we’ve been doing. He confronted you about it, didn’t he? What’d he say?”

“Nothing,” she retorted. She couldn’t bring herself to admit that the resentment driving her might have caused her to sign the death warrant on her fledgling business—the only thing that was currently keeping a roof over both their heads.

Damn her! What’s wrong with her? Hendrix fumed as he drove, probably a little too recklessly, to Lynn and Stuart’s. At thirty-one, he no longer lived with them, but his house wasn’t far away, and he was at their place a lot to see his cousin, Leo, who had Down Syndrome. The office for the drilling business was in one section of the barn, too, and most of their drilling equipment was parked on the property.

Leo was in the wide front yard wearing a snowsuit—even though it was the end of March and edging toward spring and there were only little patches of white in the shadows—playing with his dog, Zeus. He lit up like a Christmas tree the second he saw Hendrix turn in, and came running to the truck.

“Hi, Hendrix!” he said, waving enthusiastically as Hendrix got out. “I been waitin’ for ya. I knew you’d come!”

Because Hendrix came almost every day. He typically brought Leo a donut or other treat, and he would’ve again today, except Lynn had told him he had to stop. Leo was gaining too much weight. It was hard for Hendrix to disappoint him, but he had no other choice. “I know you’re probably hoping I’ve got a donut for you, bud, but I couldn’t get over there in time to buy one. I’m sorry.”

Leo’s shoulders slumped, and the corners of his mouth turned down, which made Hendrix feel terrible. But in typical Leo style, he perked up right away. “That’s okay, Hendrix,” he said as they started to walk, with Zeus, toward the office. “You’ll bring me one tomorrow, right? I like the chocolate with sprinkles. It’s my favorite. I bet that’s the one you’ll buy me. You’ll bring me the chocolate one tomorrow, won’t you, Hendrix?”

Hendrix eyed his thickening middle and offered to take him on a walk instead, but Leo was having none of it.

“After I eat my donut?” he asked.

“Yeah, after you eat your donut,” Hendrix said, finally relenting. He couldn’t refuse, despite Leo’s weight.

He’d just have to take Leo somewhere else to eat it so Lynn wouldn’t catch them. He hated to contribute to the problem when she’d asked him not to, but he couldn’t deny his cousin the few simple pleasures he enjoyed so much. Maybe the walk after would zero it out.

“Thank you, Hendrix. I can’t wait!” He rubbed his hands in anticipation as they reached the office. “What are you doing today?” he asked before Hendrix could open the door. “Are you drilling another well? Can I get my steel-toed boots and my hard hat and go with you?”

It was Friday, Hendrix’s day for picking up parts, fixing broken equipment, giving estimates and helping catch up on any paperwork Lynn was holding back because of questions she had. She helped in the office while they did the drilling, but she must be in the house or getting her hair done or something else today, because Hendrix didn’t see her when he swung open the door. “For the next little while, I’m mostly hanging out here with Stuart, okay, bud?” he said. “But if I have to run an errand or two, you can come along.”

Leo smiled widely—something he did almost all the time. “Maybe we could buy a candy bar while we’re out!”

“No treats, Leo,” he said. “They aren’t good for you, remember?”

Leo’s shoulders rounded again, until he thought of the donut. “But you’ll bring me a donut tomorrow?”

Hendrix barely refrained from groaning. He’d never known anyone with such a sweet tooth. Leo was at him for candy, soda and other junk food all the time. “Yes,” Hendrix told him. “I said I would.”

“I love you, Hendrix,” he said. “You’re the best!”

It was hard to remain angry about anything in the face of his childlike exuberance. “I love you, too,” Hendrix said with a chuckle.

But when he walked into the office and Stuart glanced up, he remembered why he’d come skidding into the driveway of their house in the first place.

“You need to do something about Ellen,” he said bluntly.

“Ellen Truesdale?” Leo piped up before Stuart, who was sitting at his desk, could respond.

Hendrix wasn’t surprised Leo knew who Ellen was. With her bleached blond hair, cut in a short, jagged style, nose ring and ear piercings, together with the tattoo sleeve that covered one arm, she stood out in the ultraconservative community in which he’d been raised. Not only had she been a hot topic around town, she’d come up in plenty of conversations between Stuart and Lynn.

Hendrix was surprised, however, that Leo remembered her last name. It wasn’t as if they knew any other Truesdales. As soon as she’d turned eighteen, Ellen had legally changed her last name to her mother’s maiden name—another of her many attempts to get back at Stuart. Leo’s father had been an alcoholic who’d raised and sold hunting dogs—before he shot himself when Lynn left him. Stuart adopted Leo when he and Lynn married three years later, so Leo went by Fetterman. And since Hendrix’s father was found in a tube of sperm cells in a lab somewhere, he’d retained his mother’s last name and went by Durrant.

“Yes, Ellen Truesdale,” Hendrix told him.

Stuart sighed as he rocked back in his chair. “What’s she done this time?”

“Took the Haslem job from us.”

His father looked startled. “I thought we had that one in the bag. Isn’t Jay your neighbor?”

About four years ago, Hendrix had bought a small, two-bedroom, two-bath, log-cabin-style home on a couple of acres about five minutes away. Jay lived in the mobile home next door—until he could move to his other property, anyway. “Yeah, well, I guess loyalty doesn’t count for much when money’s involved.”

“She undercut us again?”

“Word’s getting around that she’ll beat any price we give. At least, that’s what I’m guessing. All Jay told me was that he was hiring her because it would save him some money.”

The beard growth on Stuart’s chin rasped as he rubbed it. “Drillin’s hard work. I can’t believe she’d do it that cheaply—and that she’s actually doing a decent job. She’s only about five foot four, maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet.”

“You know she has Ben Anderson to help her, right? She hired him right out of high school when she first got here.”

“I know she’s got Ben, but it has to be difficult for her even with a hired hand.”

Hearing the grudging admiration in his voice made Hendrix’s hackles rise again. “She’s trying to damage our business. You realize that.”

“She’s not going to damage it for long,” Stuart said dismissively. “I’ve been drillin’ wells and servicing pumps for forty years. We’ll reach a new equilibrium sooner or later.”

“I’m not so sure,” Hendrix argued. “Can’t you meet with her? Have a discussion? Folks talk, especially in a small town like this. If word has it that she’s the cheapest around, and she’s a good driller…” He shook his head. “It’s been two and a half years since she moved here. She’s only getting a firmer foothold as the days go by.”

“What do you want me to say to her?” his uncle asked. “She’s not doing anything wrong.”

“Purposely targeting our business isn’t doing anything wrong?”

“It’s a free market,” he said with a shrug. “There’s nothin’ to say another driller can’t move in here and compete with us. Whether it’s her or someone else…”

I’ll talk to Ellen!” Leo volunteered. “She’s so pretty. And such a little thing. I bet I could pick her up.”

“Don’t ever try that,” Hendrix told him. “I don’t think she’d like it.”

“Oh, I’d never hurt her,” Leo hurried to reassure him.

Hendrix knew he’d never hurt her intentionally. Leo would never hurt anyone intentionally. But he was a big man, and he didn’t know his own strength. Sometimes he reminded Hendrix of Lennie in Of Mice and Men, not least because he himself identified with George Milton in the role of Leo’s protector. During his teens, he’d been in more fights than he could remember trying to defend Leo from the bullies who’d tease and make fun of him. “I know you wouldn’t, bud. You just have to remember not to touch her, okay? Ever.

“Okay,” Leo said dutifully.

“So will you talk to her?” Hendrix asked, turning back to Stuart.

Stuart blanched. “I don’t know what to say to her,” he admitted. “I mean…what can I say? I didn’t do right by her, and there’s no changing that now.”

“Then apologize,” Hendrix said, “before she makes me lose my mind.”

Stuart stared at the paperwork on his desk for several seconds before finally—and grudgingly—relenting. “If I get the opportunity, I’ll see what I can do.”

“Let me give you the opportunity,” he said. “She’s drilling the Slemboskis a well right now. Should be there another day, at least. Maybe longer.”

His uncle’s jaw had dropped as soon as he heard the name. “The Slemboskis went with her, too? Slim Slemboski’s on my bowling team!”

Hendrix threw up his hands. “See what I mean?”

Stuart winced as he went back to rubbing his jaw. “O-kay,” he said on a downbeat, as if agreeing to talk to Ellen was tantamount to walking the plank. “I’ll go over there tomorrow, see what I can do.”

Excerpted from The Talk of Coyote Canyon by Brenda Novak. Copyright © 2023 by Breda Novak, Inc. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.


My Thoughts:

Brenda Novak always portrays small town America in such a realistic way. Add in some drama and romance, a bit of conflict, and what’s developed is an entertaining romance that is very relatable. In the second book of the Coyote Canyon series called THE TALK OF COYOTE CANYON, a woman has moved to town just to be the business competitor to spite her estranged father and evil stepmother. Ellen had her father’s love and attention until she was ten, once her father remarried and his new son and his wife’s nephew too over their lives. She has been angry and bitter towards them ever since, and she even went into the same well digging business as her father. Now she lives in the same town as her family and she’s stealing their business left and right, but only her step-mother’s nephew has any guts to confront her about it. The nephew, Hendrix, winds up caught in the middle once he gets to know Ellen and where she’s coming from.

I really love Brenda Novak’s portrayal of small towns. The gossip mills that run wild, the anger from jealous friends that spills over into many people’s lives, and even a bit of online dating with unhinged people are thrown in there. Ellen is a very independent and hard working woman. She is genuinely nice and giving unless you cross her or her friends, and this leads to conflict with several locals as well as her father and stepmother. She is also vulnerable, likable, and a bit of a rebel in this rural country town. She’s doing her best with only one employee and starting to make a dent in her father’s business, but she’s also attracted the attention of someone willing to sabotage her work to try and ruin her life.

Hendrix doesn’t go into things determined to like Ellen; he just wants to get some of their business back. He’s just as hardworking as Ellen, giving over ten years to his step-uncle’s business. He definitely grows to see both sides of his family drama, and ultimately his choice rocks some major boats.

The rest of the side characters are pretty unique and do evolve throughout the books while the ones with bad intentions do stay a bit one note throughout. But the focus of the book is how Ellen and Hendrix deal with all of the craziness, and it makes for a very enjoyable journey.


I give THE TALK OF COYOTE CANYON a 4.5 out of five. This book fits into so many categories and definitely covers what it means to be happy and satisfied with the life you have, as well as inclusivity, forgiveness, trust, but there are also times of frustration and malice from those you should be able to trust. I loved the small town charm and characters, especially all the progress the main characters make throughout the book. This is written as a standalone novel and I had zero issues not having read the first installment. I look forward to more books in this series.



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About Brenda Novak

Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a five-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Bookbuyer’s Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit

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I'm a PhD chemist who loves sarcasm, music, and books-paranormal, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and romance. Most of my free time is spent at the martial arts studio these days--whether practicing Combat Hapkido or reading books while watching my son's Taekwondo classes, or even working up a sweat with Kickboxing for fun. Goodreads

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