Julie Anne Long
Wild at Whiskey Creek (Hellcat Canyon #2)
Avon / November 29, 2016 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital
Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne Long incorporates one of my most favorite tropes: friends to lovers—and not just adult friendship, but childhood friendship. There’s something so squee-worthy about childhood crushes that go unrequited, only to sucker-punch the hero and heroine later in life. Eli Barlow and Glory Greenleaf have such a history. Eli is also Glory’s brother’s best friend (double the tropes, double the fun). He was someone that Glory looked up to, falling in love with him over the years. That is, until Eli arrests her brother Jonah, and sends him to prison. For this, Glory can never forgive Eli. Though Eli stands by his decision, and is even more pissed off that he had to arrest his best friend, he knows Glory will always blame him for ruining her family. Yet Eli knows how good they can be together. How the chemistry enrages when they’re together, despite the elephant between them.
Their road to coupledom is slow and often meandering while still remaining on track.
If life was essentially a big Rubik’s Cube, then every twist and turn, every meeting and parting, everything they’d ever said and done was necessary to get them to that moment at that party outside in the backward up against that ponderosa pine…About two minutes later their tongues were twined and his hands were down the back of her jeans and her hands were up the front of his shirt and hot on his skin…
I’ll tell you, that kiss was just a preview of how awesome they could be together. Until Eli is forced to arrest Jonah, whereby eliciting Glory’s stubbornness and her cold shoulder. But as much as Glory pretends to care not a whim about Eli, despite her anger toward the man that betrayed her family, she’s not immune to him.
She leaned against the wall and closed her eyes and sighed and banged her head lightly against the wall. Once, twice. Her heart was going like a kick drum. Damn damn. Damn damn. Damn damn. Like that.
Just standing near Eli made her feel like a wire ran from her head to her toes and lit her up until she buzzed and cracked like the old neon sign out in front of the Plugged Nickel.
Eventually, Eli breaks down Glory’s walls. Even the most innocent of touches sparks shivers down my spine because of the intimacy Long sprinkles as an appetizer, tempting us to keep reading.
They both became aware that he was still holding her hand. They’d gone very still together, even as the place was still recovering from the uproar.
He ran his thumb lightly over her fingers, tracing each knuckle in turn, gently, slowly.
It was officially a caress.
And her head lifted slowly to look into his eyes.
And there was no reason to keep holding on to her. But he didn’t want to let her go.
And she didn’t pull away.
Another thing I love about this book? The setting. It’s small-town California, where everyone knows everyone. Ms. Long does such a great job at coloring the town and its characters, I feel like I’m one of the townies. And man, do I want Glory and Eli to get over their issues and get it on! Because their dance is a bolero, with each phrasing a slight repeat from the one before, that builds in intensity until we’re finally gifted with the ultimate crescendo in the finale. Speaking of music, if you’re a music junkie like me, you’ll appreciate Glory’s talent on the guitar and her songwriting prowess, complete with lyrics. If you like your romances that simmer and build to a dynamic finale, Wild at Whiskey Creek is the book for you.
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Tanya is a fanatic of all things romance, dabbles in Happily Ever Afters under the pen name of Lily Kay, and teaches sociology part-time. You can follow her on twitter @tamushamu, @AuthorLilyKay, or on facebook.com/Authorlilykay.