May 29 2008
Updated to add, Brenda Novak’s auction for diabetes ends in just a few days.
Dear Ms. Novak:
This is my first Novak book and I am happy to say it won’t be my last. I’ve been fortunate to read some good romantic suspense released this month and yours was right up there with the best of them.
Skye Kellerman is an attempted rape survivor who fought off her attacker and lived to testify against him. Oliver Burke was supposed to be sentenced to eight to ten years but is getting out in less than three. David Willis who worked the case and fell hard for Skye first hears the news and is caught between fear and elation. Fear, of course, for Skye’s safety but elation that he now has an excuse to see her again.
David and Skye haven’t seen each other in 10 months mostly because David has always been trying to get back together with his ex-wife. He has fallen out of love with his ex-wife but because she has MS and because of their son, he believes it is important to put aside his feelings and work on repairing his failed marriage. David has always suspected that Oliver was involved in the deaths of other women but was never able to prove it and believes that Skye will be in danger when Oliver is released.
Skye and two of her female friends, Jasmine and Sheridan, started a company called The Last Stand. (I admit to doing an eye roll or three over the names of these women. They sounded like escort service names: Skye, Jasmine, and Sheridan or 80s historical heroines.) The Last Stand is a company that is dedicated to supporting victims of violent crime. They help people learn self defense. They track down kidnapped children. They investigated crimes.
Skye doesn’t use many of the resources of TLS so it’s more of a setup for the remainder of the trilogy but it does show that Skye refuses to be victimized and provides a basis for her actions that might seem reckless in other circumstances. As Skye noted, living with someone didn’t protect her before any more than living by herself made her a greater target. Oliver would find her no matter what the circumstances.
David and Skye’s relationship was based on a different type of tension that you ordinarily read in a romance. David is convinced that it is in the best interests of his son to try to repair the existing home life. Of course, where the heart is engaged so does the body follow and David is often found making excuses to see Skye. David’s ex wife, Lynn, can easily see this and strikes back at David, sleeping with another man, being increasingly difficult.
I thought that the ex-wife was more nuanced in the beginning. She clearly still loved David and was hurt by the absence of his own feelings. As the book progressed, the ex-wife became less nuanced, making it easier for David (and the reader) to make the break. David’s devotion to his family was honorable but it was clear that because his heart wasn’t in it, it was destined to fail. Does this make David less honorable/less heroic or simply human?
But the chemistry between Skye and David was obvious. I liked that Skye longed to be with David but was strong enough to tell him that he didn’t have enough to give her, that she deserved more than a man who was caught between his old life and maybe the one that he wanted in the future. As time progressed and the danger to Skye’s life became more pronounced, David and Skye were pushed together time and again forcing the attraction to come to a head. To be clear, I liked David and Skye as a couple and wanted them to be together.
I felt that the interrelationship between Skye, David, and Lynn was very natural and organic except toward the very end when Lynn’s actions seemed a bit improbable despite the build up. Oliver was a creepy villain but I think I would have liked to have seen how, if at all, prison had affected him particularly since you choose to include scenes of Oliver in prison. I really liked the portrayal of Jane, Oliver’s wife, who was neither very good nor very bad. She was both a victim and a wrongdoer and I thought that was a very real portrait.
The suspense was well down. I sped through the book and was anxious to read more at the close. B