When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak is the first book in the Whiskey Creek series, stories all set in the small town of the same name. It's a nice, if predictable, romance.
Gail is a publicist in LA. Simon is a big-time movie star with behaviour problems, and Gail has fired him as a client causing her other clients to leave as well. Simon is embroiled in a nasty custody battle with his ex wife, who has used all the negative press surrounding Simon to gain full custody of their young son and file a restraining order against Simon. Not knowing the situation, Gail's assistant drunkenly leaks a false story that Simon sexually assaulted Gail, and the press runs with it. To fix Simon's reputation and win back her clients, Gail comes up with a plan with Simon's manager for Simon to marry someone safe for two years, to clean up his image and his behaviour. The manager agrees, and decided Gail is the only safe option, since they can't trust anyone hired to be Simon's wife won't spill the story to the press for a bigger payout. They marry at the courthouse, and after an injury that was nearly much worse, Gail convinces Simon to leave LA and his work for three months and go to her hometown with her to recover.
What I liked:
Gail and Simon have known each other and worked together for a while, so it's not the typical "Two weeks and BAM we're pledging undying love" scenario that many romance novels use. That's so annoying. Both Simon and Gail are smart people, and good business people. Both are successful in their chosen careers, and it's mentioned that Gail graduated from Stanford with honors after being valedictorian of her high school class. She's not the Hollywood airhead type at all. And, she's a redhead. Ok, I'm a bit biased towards redheads. I also like that Gail's friends and family (a father and older brother, both divorced and a bit skeptical) are protective of her and aren't blindly welcoming of Simon just because he's a famous movie star. Her best friend Callie, and her father and brother give him a really hard time and make him prove himself. The minor characters, who have their own Whiskey Creek novels, are introduced smoothly without seeming like they are being primed for their own spinoffs. Another big thing I liked was after the "big drama event" happened near the end (as it always does in romance novels), when Simon called Gail to tell his innocence, she listened to him. She didn't hang up on him, she didn't collapse in hysterics, she looked at his evidence and helped him solve the problem.
What I didn't like:
There wasn't much I didn't like. I didn't like the predictability, but that's to be expected I suppose. A majority of these types of novels follow a pattern, and the same type of story - fake marriage leads to a real marriage when the couple falls in love - has been told repeatedly. This is just a different version. But still, it's a nice, easy read.
I give it four stars.