Monday, September 19, 2011

In Seconds, by Brenda Novak: A Review


Harlequin/Mira Books, ISBN 9780778312444, August 2011

Vivian Stewart is living a quiet life in small-town Montana, raising her two children and running her purse design business. But Vivian Stewart has a past, under her real name of Laurel Hodges, her friends and acquaintances don't suspect. Her uncle murdered her stepfather, at her mother's instigation, her brother Virgil spent fourteen years in prison for the crime before being cleared, and joined a prison gang, The Crew, in order to survive. When he quit the gang after getting out, the gang decided to punish him and those he cared about. He has to die, but his sister and her kids, as well as his wife and son, have to die first, so that he'll know about it and suffer.

They've been in hiding under false names ever since. But now one of the craziest, most dangerous members of The Crew, who goes by the nickname Ink, has tracked Vivian/Laurel to Montana.
Vivian has been resisting getting too close to anyone, and especially has resisted her attraction to widowed neighbor and local Sheriff Myles King. But as the evidence accumulates, starting with the apparently senseless murder of a well-liked local realtor, that The Crew is closing in on her again, Vivian realizes she's more attached to these people and this place than she had realized, and decides to stay and fight. Ink and a new recruit, L.J., stalk Vivian, while Vivian makes plans to protect herself and her children, and Sheriff King investigates the murder of realtor Pat Steuben. Vivian's former boyfriend Rex, another ex-Crew member, turns up, her brother Virgil gets involved long-distance from New York, and their mother is murdered in L.A.

Whenever you think the plot has gotten as complicated as it can, Novak ratchets it up a little more. It's exciting, but parts of it fall flat. Some of Vivian's decisions just don't make any sense. The romantic tension amongst Myles, Vivian, and Rex just doesn't feel quite real. And late in the book, Virgil, whose wife is about to give birth any minute, leaves New York to take a risk that's just beyond belief. It's a page turner, and entertaining, but ultimately not very satisfying. A decent read if you don't expect too much of it.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.