by Brenda Novak
Series: Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #1
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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 Amarok, 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 Amarok, 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…
Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak is the first novel in the Evelyn Talbot Chronicles. Novak delivers a romantic suspense filled with danger set against the backdrop of Hilltop Alaska a town outside of Anchorage. Suspense, murder and a little heat made Her Darkest Nightmare a page-turner.
In January, I read Hanover House which gave us both the history of our heroine and introduced us to Hanover House. A maximum-security prison spearheaded by Evelyn (Eve) Talbot a psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind. She has brought the worst serial killers in the US to this prison. Her hope is to gain insight into their minds. While it is not wholly necessary to read the prequel, it does share Evelyn’s unique background and a budding romance with local law enforcement officer Sergeant Amarok. Personally it’s worth the effort.
Winter is in full force when the mutilated body of a local woman is discovered. With tensions already uncomfortable between residents and Hanover House, folks are quick to suspect a prisoner. With all prisoners accounted for Novak begins a twisted mystery, with a side dish of romance, and shares tension within Hanover House.
Novak gave the reader plenty of suspense while lending some believability to this chilling tale. I cannot speak to the police procedure as I imagine these remote locations differ, but I would have liked aid from the larger police force in Anchorage. While it created more intimacy and kept the story contained I prefer realism. Red herrings and plausible suspects kept me guessing. Side stories added twists and complications.
Hanover House continues to have a strong presence, as we were privy to prison workings, research and interviews with inmates. Novak’s portrayal of these killers is downright chilling. Salacious and illegal activities within the prison walls added additional tension but also affected the overall pacing of the story. While these threads were interesting, I struggled with the periods of inactivity and craved more action. Thankfully, threads were developed and Novak tied them into the main mystery.
The romance continues to be enjoyable and we see progression with Eve and Amarok. Eve is still stubborn but I loved seeing her begin to depend on someone else and admired her courage when dealing with her peers and patients. Novak brought fuzzy moments and a little heat to the romance. I love Amarok’s approach to Eve and look forward to seeing their relationship strengthen.
For those who read Hanover House, Jasper is still very much in the picture and we did get a few updates. Her Darkest Nightmare delivered an intense mystery with likeable characters. I look forward to the next novel and recommend the series to fans of romantic suspense, and crime thrillers involving serial killers.
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