Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review - Her Darkest Nightmare

Author:  Brenda Novak
Series!  The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #1
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Publisher:  St. Martin's Paperbacks
Format:  Kindle
No. of pages:  431
Published:  August 30, 2016
My Rating:  4 Stars



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. 


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…


Well, Dr. Evelyn Talbot’s plans for Hanover House has come to fruition. When she approached the powers that be to build a special maximum-security facility in order to do exclusive studies on the psychopath prisoners who were to be transferred there, she met with stiff opposition.  Evelyn is a psychiatrist who excels in her knowledge of the insanely criminal minds. 

It has been a few months and, for the most part, things are coming along quite nicely. The only hitch in Evelyn’s life at this point is that her budding relationship with Sergeant Amarok has ended rather badly. There didn’t seem to be much hope in the beginning, as he was one of the most vocal opposers. But their break-up was for different reasons. 

Until now, the small Alaskan town had been spared of brutal violence. Shockingly, however, a mutilated body is discovered, thus setting everyone on edge. Could one of the prisoners have escaped? Did Evelyn bring this horror to this town? Speaking of horror, Evelyn was running away from it as well as staring it directly in the face. In the prequel of the series, Hanover House, as well as in this book, Evelyn’s incredibly tragic past is recounted. While she was a teen, she was kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by her boyfriend for days. This is why Evelyn does what she does. She is determined to figure out why some people behave as they do.

Amarok quickly does whatever he can to protect Evelyn, and his town. The terror that is being confronted is at war with the feelings the two are desperately trying to fight. Is Evelyn still in danger from the man who hurt her twenty years ago, or is there someone in that close community committing these horrific acts?

This story is ripe with drama. There is the new danger facing the town. There is the dangerous element within the walls of the prison, and not necessarily just the prisoners! The all-consuming passion that Evelyn and Amarok are fighting, in large part due to their age difference, is mentioned numerous times...almost to the point of annoyance. 

This multi-layered story effectively deals with each issue. For those who enjoy a dark story, no worries there. Each chapter is preceded by a creepy quote from a real-life serial killer, thus setting the tone for the overall story. There is also a significant amount of gruesomeness. If you are a lover of romance, the relationship that evolves between Evelyn and Amarok is handled with patience. Then there is the edge-of-your-seat suspense flowing throughout the pages. I was kept guessing as to who the killer was. Definite shock therapy! Finally, the ending was absolutely bone-chilling. 

I have the next two books in the series, Hello Again and Face Off, but I need a break from the darkness. I am definitely anxious as to whether or not Evelyn’s darkest fears will be realized. 

My review of Hanover House can be found here,


It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s bestselling author career.

“I caught my day-care provider drugging my children with cough syrup and Tylenol to get them to sleep while I was away,” Brenda says. “It was then that I decided that I needed to do something from home.”

However, writing was the last profession she expected to undertake. In fact, Brenda swears she didn’t have a creative bone in her body. In school, math and science were her best subjects, and when it came time to pick a major in college, she chose business.

Abandoning her academic scholarship to Brigham Young University at the age of 20 in order to get married and start a family, Brenda dabbled in commercial real estate, then became a loan officer.

“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda admits. “I learned how to write by reading what others have written. The best advice for any would-be author: read, read, read….”

Brenda sold her first book, and the rest is history. Many of her novels have won or placed in contests such as the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Write Touch, the Award of Excellence and the Beacon Award for Published Authors.

Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are the proud parents of five children—three girls and two boys. When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually raising money for diabetes research. Her youngest son, Thad, has diabetes, and Brenda is determined to help him and others like him. She also enjoys traveling, watching sporting events and biking — she rides an amazing 20 miles every day!

Contact her

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  1. I think I would probably have trouble reading a book like this but it does sound intriguing. I can see why you would need a bit of a break between them. Great review!

  2. This sounds intense, but also really good. Great review.

  3. You always read such great sounding books. Where do you find them all?
    Gemma @

  4. This is my kind of read. I'll have to look out for it. Lovely review.