In Seconds by Brenda Novak
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/mystery
Length: Full Length (384 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Azalea
Laurel Hodges has changed her identity twice. She's been on the run for the past four years, trying to outdistance the gang members who blame her for the death of one of their own. She's finally found peace and stability in the small town of Pineview, Montana. But just when Laurel thinks she and her children are safe…the nightmare starts all over again.
The Crew, a ruthless prison gang with ties to Laurel's brother, will never forget and they'll never forgive. And now that they've finally tracked her down, they'll stop at nothing.
Sheriff Myles King, who happens to live next door with his thirteen–year–old daughter, appoints himself Laurel's personal guardian. His growing attraction to her could change his life—Myles is beginning to picture marriage and family. But it could also end his life. If he can't save her, everything he's built, everything he wants, could be destroyed. In seconds…
Where do you go when there's nowhere left to hide? That's a question Laurel Hodges—as of two years ago, Vivian Stewart—asks herself when a local realtor is brutally murdered.
In Seconds is the story of Laurel Hodges, sister of Virgil Skinner, the hero in Inside, Book One in Brenda Novak’s new Bulletproof series.
In Book One, Inside, Laurel’s brother Virgil Skinner, exonerated after serving fourteen years for a crime he didn’t commit, agreed to infiltrate a gang in California’s Pelican Bay maximum security prison in exchange for protection for his sister and her two children. However, The Crew, a notorious gang to which Virgil belonged in order to survive, can’t forget what they consider his betrayal, and they’re out to get Virgil, his sister, and friend Rex McCready. At the end of Inside, Virgil, his wife Peyton, Laurel and Rex had relocated to Washington, DC.
After having been found by The Crew, they’ve had to re-locate again, and for the past two years, Laurel is living in Pineview, a small Montana town where, under the assumed identity of Vivian Stewart, she hopes she has finally eluded the revenge-seeking gang members. Here, she’s finally bought a house and started an online business making classy handbags. She also has developed an unwelcome interest in her sexy neighbor, Sheriff Myles King. However, because of her past, she’s content to let the interest remain unfulfilled. Until she proposes a one-night stand with Myles, on the promise that he will not try to see her again. Myles, however, is also attracted and realizes he wants much more from Vivian. After being widowed for three years, he’s ready to start living again, but caught in a moment of weakness, he agrees to the tryst. It is both exhilarating and a letdown, and Vivian at once regrets her hasty decision.
When a local realtor is brutally murdered, warning bells echo in Vivian’s mind. Her friend Claire, the town’s hairdresser, wonders if the murder has any connection to the disappearance of her mother fifteen years earlier, but Vivian wonders if it’s an omen that The Crew may have finally located her. When she learns from her brother that Ink, one of the vengeful gang members has escaped from prison along with a youthful cellmate, she is determined to protect herself and her children at all costs, but her dilemma is that she can’t tell Myles about it and she can’t allow her feelings for him to get in the way.
Ms. Novak pens a gritty story with her usual superb characterization. Viewpoints move with dramatic realism between Vivian, Myles, Virgil, Rex and Ink and his prison cellmate accomplice. I couldn't put down this well-plotted and compelling, character-driven story until I had finished it...well into the wee hours of morning. It was wonderful to see the reappearance of Virgil and Rex from Inside, and though I wanted to see Rex achieve his happy ending, I felt Myles was the perfect man for Vivian. All in all a superb series. Wonderful characters, tense drama, realism and darned good reading are some of the trademarks that keep Ms. Novak on bestseller lists.