Hello Again by Brenda Novak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
NOTE: this book continues the Evelyn Talbot/Hanover House series. I would start at least with the previous novel (if not the prequel) because it’s a continuation of that story – but it’s well worth it.
Wow. This book has a lot of moving parts, but they all seem to mesh really well together. This setting (Hanover House Institution in rural Alaska) remains one of the creepiest setups out there and Novak capitalized on it in the best way.
Plus there’s a killer set-up at the end of the novel which will leave you salivating for Book 3!
Evelyn and Amarok are happily living together. A year after the events of the first novel. A newly convicted serial killer has been sent to HH and Evelyn is excited. Until he keeps protesting his innocence – and it turns out that despite several red flags he may go free due to a police screw-up. On top of all of this, there’s chaos back in Boston and Jasper, Evelyn’s violent ex is still out there. It’s all overwhelming for someone just trying to make a positive difference.
Like I said, there’s a lot going on here, maybe at times a little too much, but generally it’s more than enough to keep readers excited. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone in Evelyn’s field would be in as much danger as she gets into, though you do have to use your imagination a little bit (I don’t want to give spoilers, but I hope some things would be handled differently in real life). I’m willing to do that for a good story, and this one is very good overall.
Plus, Amarok is probably the best leading male in romantic suspense out there. Love him! His and Evelyn’s relationship adds a nice, light touch to a dark atmosphere in the series.
And like I said: that ending! It’s really good and makes me super excited for the next chapter. I’ll definitely be reading!
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Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is the beginning of the Evelyn Talbot series, though there is a prequel, whose events are referenced, available. But this novel really needs no introduction.
It’s creepy, spooky, and I couldn’t put it down!
The novel centers on a psychiatrist, Evelyn Talbot, who studies the minds of psychopaths. She was the victim of a violent crime at the hands of her high school boyfriend and since then she has dedicated herself to trying to prevent others from falling victim to psychopaths. She’s one of the founders of Hanover House, a mental health facility in Alaska which specializes in psychopathy. It’s the dead of winter and employees at Hanover house start turning up dead. Chaos ensues.
All this as Evelyn begins to reignite her romance with the local cop.
Oh boy. The setting was incredibly spooky, and the focus on the minds of the deranged killers really adds a horror-movie-like feel to the entire novel. And Brenda Novak comes up with some incredibly creepy characters to fill the role of the ever-present psychopaths.
This book was like watching a great scary movie, filled with a pervading sense of unease. The romance is also pretty hot and heavy, so this book will appeal to people who love both genres.
The ending is also pretty good, if a little predictable.
My only critique is that the whole “psychopath” focus was a little much at points. It’s unbelievable that the government would create an institution like Hanover House, or that someone would study such people with no clear goals (Evelyn never states what she’s studying or how it will help people, really beyond “They must be stopped!!!!”). But I like the novel that suspends belief for a little bit so this didn’t bother me a lot.
Overall I am looking forward to future books in the series and would highly recommend to anyone looking for an excellent thriller.
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Now that I’ve finished “The Night Bell,” I’m moving on to my next read, “Her Darkest Nightmare,” a thriller by Brenda Novak. It’s giving me “30 Days of Darkness” vibes from the description, and I’m excited to get reading.
But I’m I interested to hear what you’re all reading next because I’m always thinking ahead and filling up my “Want to Read” list on Goodreads. Comment with your latest read!
More details on “Her Darkest Nightmare” from the publisher:
Release Date: August 30, 2016
THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER
Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her―and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amorak, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.
BEGINS WITH AN ESCAPE FROM HER PAST
Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amorak, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her―the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same….