WILD AT WHISKEY CREEK
The hero and heroine know each other so well that they can’t imagine anyone else as a partner — even though they try. Julie Ann Long knows how to sink deep into a specific character’s viewpoint: Glory, a talented singer, sees and thinks about almost everything from a musical standpoint, while Eli, the town’s deputy sheriff, looks everywhere for rules and structure. Character-driven story at its best, Long’s latest combines emotional depth and oh-so-human absurdity with her usual deftness.
Glory and Eli grew up together, constantly in each other’s orbit, but she’s a free-spirited musician and he lives life by the book. When Glory’s brother takes desperate — and illegal — measures to keep the family afloat, Eli has no choice but to do his job. He doesn’t realize that in the process, Glory’s hopes of pursuing her music career get pushed to the back burner. When her big break comes along, it has some strings attached that could break her and Eli for good. But he’ll break all the rules to make sure she gets what she needs. (AVON, Dec., 384 pp., $7.99)