Her Darkest Nightmare
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Her Darkest Nightmare

4.8 40
by Brenda Novak

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Her Darkest Nightmare, first in an electrifying new series from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak

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


Her Darkest Nightmare, first in an electrifying new series from New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak

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…

“Brenda Novak's seamless plotting, emotional intensity, and true-to-life characters…make her books completely satisfying.”—New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan

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St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Dr. Evelyn Talbot Novels Series
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4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Her Darkest Nightmare

By Brenda Novak

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Brenda Novak
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8800-5


We are all evil in some form or another.


Twenty years later ...

He'd kill her if he could. He'd attacked her once before. She had to remember that.

Dropping her pen on top of the notepad she'd carried in with her, Dr. Evelyn Talbot slipped her fingers under her glasses and rubbed her eyes. She hadn't gotten much sleep last night; she'd had another of her terrible nightmares. "The plexiglass is there for a reason, Hugo. It will always be between us. And we both know why."

This wasn't the answer he'd been hoping for. Impatience etched lines in his handsome face, with its wide forehead and innocent-looking brown eyes, but he was careful not to raise his voice. In fact, he did the opposite: he lowered it in appeal. "I won't lay a hand on you, I swear! I just have to tell you something. Come over to this side so I can whisper. It'll only take a minute."

It would take even less time for him to get his hands around her throat or put her in the hospital, like he did when she first met him at San Quentin.

Reclaiming her pen, she replied in the same measured tone she always reserved for her subjects. "You know I can't do that. So say what you have to say. Do it right here, right now. We've been going around and around with this for two weeks."

He twisted to look up at the camera being used to monitor his behavior. Whenever she met with an inmate, a correctional officer in a room down the hall viewed the proceedings on closed-circuit TV. The inmates thought they were being watched for security purposes, but these sessions were also recorded. The video enabled her to study the nuances in their body language, which was, in addition to their speech patterns, the focus of her research.

"I can't," he insisted. "Not in front of the cameras. I'm a dead man if I do."

Someone had him convinced. She believed that much. Although, with the way her subjects lied, she could easily be wrong. Maybe he was making it all up. "But who would harm you?" She leaned closer. "And how?"

Evelyn had been studying Hugo Evanski since Hanover House opened three months ago, in November. He'd been among the first of the psychopaths transferred here, had scored a whopping 37 out of 40 on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, or PCL-R. But to look at him or talk to him no one would know he was capable of murder. From the beginning, Evelyn had found him to be intelligent, tractable and, for the most part, polite. He was even helpful, when he could be.

The thought made her a bit uneasy, but if she had a friend among the psychopaths she'd come to Alaska to analyze it would be Hugo. Maybe that was why she was tempted to trust him, even after what he'd done before and everything else she'd been through.

"I was right about Jimmy, wasn't I?" he said.

A month and a half ago, he'd warned her that another inmate was planning to hang himself with a sheet. If not for Hugo, Jimmy Wise would be dead.

"Yes, but you didn't demand I risk my life to get that information."

"Because Jimmy was no threat to me!"

"So who is?"

Squeezing his eyes closed, he tapped his forehead against the glass.

Evelyn waited.

"What can I do?" he asked when he spoke again. "How can I get you to believe me? To give me just a moment of privacy?"

He'd strangled fifteen women and he'd injured her. That meant there was nothing he could do, because she wasn't stupid enough to put herself in jeopardy.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I truly am."

His gaze fell to the four-inch-long scar on her neck. "It's his fault."

She touched the raised flesh. She supposed, in a way, Hugo was right. But she found it amusing that he assumed no personal responsibility for his own behavior the day they met. She could've pointed that out but was more interested in what he hoped to tell her. "Yes."

Getting up, he paced the length of the small cubicle that comprised his half of their meeting space — what constituted her "couch." "I would never let anything happen to you," he said, "not if I could help it."

"And what happened at San Quentin?" This time she couldn't resist....

"I didn't know you then. Things are different now."

Were they really? That was the question.

"I appreciate the sentiment," she responded, but that didn't mean she'd change her mind.

He stopped and pivoted to face her. "You don't understand. You're not safe. None of us are."

The intensity of his voice and expression made the hair on her arms stand on end. Was that what Hugo was hoping to do? Frighten her?

She had to admit it was working — but only because he'd never taken this tack before January 1. And he seemed so convinced, so sincere.

Apparently, even she could still be taken in....

Grabbing her pad and her pen, Evelyn stood. "I'm afraid we'll have to end our session early. You're so obsessed with ... whatever it is that's causing your agitation we can't make any progress."

"Wait!" He rushed the glass. "Evelyn ..."

When she gaped at him for using her first name as if they were familiar enough for him to do that, he reverted to the usual formalities.

"Dr. Talbot, listen to me. Please. This prison houses psychopaths, right? Men who take lives without hesitation or remorse."

She made no reply, didn't see where one was necessary. He was stating information they both knew to be accurate.

"I'm trying to tell you that" — he glanced at the camera again — "not every killer at Hanover House is locked up."

This was the last thing she'd expected. "What are you talking about?"

"That's all I'll say. Unless ... unless you can give me a chance to speak to you in private. I'll explain what I know, what I've seen and heard. And I won't hurt you. I'm trying to help!"

Evelyn refused to listen to any more of this. Clearly, Hugo was hoping to gain some type of control in their relationship by acting like her protector at the same time he chipped away at her peace of mind. No way would she allow him to do that. At just sixteen, her life had nearly been taken when she fell in love with a man like Hugo. After becoming a psychiatrist eight years ago, she'd devoted her life to unraveling the mysteries of the remorseless killer. She knew more about the psychopathic mind than anyone else in the world, except, maybe, Dr. Robert D. Hare, who had developed the PCL-R and had been researching the same subject for nearly thirty years. But, sadly, even she didn't know as much as she wanted, not nearly enough to protect the unsuspecting.

"We'll meet at our regular time day after tomorrow," she told Hugo. "Do what you can to relax. You're growing paranoid."

She walked out, but he didn't let it go at that. "You'll see," he called after her. "You're going to wish you'd believed me!"

* * *

With a sigh of bone-deep exhaustion, Evelyn tossed her notepad on her desk and slid into her chair.

"What's wrong? Another headache?"

The sound of Lorraine Drummond's voice at her open door brought Evelyn's head up. "No, I just left a session with Hugo Evanski."

Lorraine, who'd answered an ad in the newspaper when Evelyn and the warden began staffing the center last September, was heavyset, in her mid-fifties and recently single. She had a small house in Anchorage an hour away, two grown children and no education beyond high school. She hadn't even worked until her divorce, but she was doing a terrific job of running the center's food service program.

"Since he came here, Hugo's been perfect. You told me that yourself."

"He's changing. Acting strange."

"Why not pass him along to Dr. Fitzpatrick or one of the others? Give yourself a break?"

"Dr. Fitzpatrick is already using him for some of his studies — and has been since we opened. I can't ask him to do more. Not since Dr. Brand quit and Dr. Wilheim came down with the shingles. We're barely managing without them. Who knows how long it'll be before we can find someone to replace Martin and Stacy's able to come back to work?" Besides, Evelyn felt duty bound to carry the heaviest load. She was largely the reason they were all stuck in the middle of nowhere with thirty-seven of the worst serial killers in America. The other 213 inmates were also diagnosed as psychopathic but were in for lesser crimes and would one day be released.

"You could if you wanted to," Lorraine insisted.

"I don't want to. There're only four other productive members of the team right now. I can handle him." The men she'd come here to study manipulated her constantly, or tried to. Why should she expect Hugo to be any different? Especially with the way their first meeting had gone?

"He's very nice whenever I see him in the dining hall." Lorraine put a sack lunch on the desk. She came over to the mental health wing quite often to make sure Evelyn had food to eat, regardless of the meal.

Evelyn peeked in at her lunch: carrots, an apple, a cup of chicken noodle soup and a chocolate-chip cookie. "You can't trust nice." Jasper had once been nice, too. And look what he did.

Lorraine adjusted an earring that was hanging too low. "Dr. Fitzpatrick says everyone dons a mask. With psychopaths, that mask is more like a mirror. Whatever they think you want to see, that's what they reflect back at you. They're empty."

No, not empty. Evelyn didn't believe that for a second. She'd once seen the bared soul of a psychopath, stared into his eyes in a way Dr. Fitzpatrick never had and, God willing, never would. The men they treated were far from empty; "empty" was too synonymous with "neutral, harmless." If she were a religious person she might substitute "soulless" and find it quite fitting, but she hadn't been to church in over a decade.

"They know how to blend in," she corrected. "How to appear as emotionally invested as those around them. They're wolves in sheep's clothing, which is why they're able to cause so much pain and destruction." And why the truly caring individuals involved in their lives usually suffered for it.

Lorraine seemed to measure Evelyn more closely. "Are you sure it's only Hugo that's got you down? You look ... frazzled."

And it was only Monday. Not a great way to start out the week. "I didn't sleep well last night."

"Why don't you go home and lie down, get some rest?"

Evelyn waved her off. "It's not even noon."

"Listen, this place won't fall apart if you take a couple of hours. Everyone admires your commitment — no one more than me — but you'll run yourself into a brick wall if you don't slow down."

Evelyn shook a daily vitamin from the bottle she kept in her desk and tossed it back with a drink of water. "Don't be so dramatic. I'm fine. And I can't leave." She checked the clock hanging on her wall. "Our new inmate will be here any minute."

"Anthony Garza? I thought he wasn't due until four."

"Weather report says we've got another storm coming in. So they caught an earlier flight. You didn't get the message?"

Lorraine adjusted her hairnet. "I haven't checked my e-mail this morning. I've been too busy in the kitchen."

"One of the federal marshals called just before I met with Hugo. The plane's already landed in Anchorage." Because of the amount of security required to move the high-profile killers they often received, arrivals were always a big deal. The entire on-site staff was alerted ... just in case — although Lorraine's presence wasn't as high a priority as the warden, the COs and the mental health team. The last thing they needed was for someone to make a careless mistake that would result in an escape or injury. As the first institution of its kind, Hanover House was perceived to be a radical new approach to the psychopathy problem, which meant they had to prove themselves professional and effective or risk losing the public support they'd worked so hard to achieve. Just because Hilltop hadn't mounted much resistance to having a maximum-security mental facility built on the outskirts of town — nothing like the other locations the government considered — didn't mean they wouldn't rally at the prodding of an inciting event. For the most part, the locals who weren't working at the center seemed to be reserving judgment, but they weren't welcoming her or her brainchild with open arms, especially Amarok, the handsome Alaska State Trooper who was about the town's only police presence.

"What do we know about Garza?" Lorraine asked.

That question made Evelyn uncomfortable. The inmates at Hanover House were hand selected for the type of crimes they'd committed and the behavior they exhibited. That was one of the details that made their institution unique, besides the friendly name ("House" instead of "Prison") and the focus on research and treatment as opposed to simple incarceration. But Evelyn had chosen Garza because he was so difficult to handle. Had the team been asked to weigh in on some of the details, as they probably should've been, they would've rejected him on the grounds that he was too antagonistic to be considered for their program. Not only had he attacked every cellmate he'd ever had; a year ago he'd nearly killed a guard.

But Evelyn thought that anger, that level of hatred and vocal interaction, might bring insights they'd been missing so far.

"We know he killed the first three of his four wives. That he's egocentric, feels no real human attachment, has delusions of grandeur and lies like a rug." She straightened her blotter. "He also has a penchant for self-mutilation, but that's another thing."

"How'd he murder his wives?" Lorraine's expression suggested she didn't really care to know but had to ask.

His file lay on the corner of the desk. Evelyn had read the documents inside it several times. She slid it over and flipped through the pages as she spoke. "He didn't do anything uniquely gruesome. Knocked them out with a hammer before setting the bed on fire."

"He did that to all three?"

When she came to a picture of the burned remnants of a mobile home, Evelyn paused. She hated to imagine what'd happened to the poor woman who'd been inside, but couldn't stop the heartbreaking images that flashed before her mind's eye. "Yes."

"He wasn't afraid three fires would raise his chances of being caught?"

Evelyn managed a shrug as she closed the file. She had to keep some distance between her emotions and what she encountered every day or she would never survive this job. Even if she couldn't maintain that separation, she faked it. Otherwise her colleagues would be all over her — cautioning her, giving advice, telling her she was taking the job too seriously. What she didn't understand was how they could take the men and issues they dealt with any less seriously, how they could look at their jobs as just a nine-to-five grind. "He killed each one in a different state, and he nearly got away with it. Was only tried two years ago, five years after the death of the last woman. By then, he was separated from his fourth wife. I guess he found something that worked and stuck with it."

Lorraine made a clicking sound with her tongue. "Amazing that these cases aren't connected sooner. What about the last wife? Why didn't he kill her?"

"Courtney Lofland? I have no idea." Evelyn set the file aside. "She's remarried and living in Kansas."

"Lucky girl. I bet you'd love to talk to her, see what she has to say about Garza's behavior."

"I've already sent a letter," Evelyn said with a smile.

Lorraine shook her head. "I should've known. With you, no stone goes unturned."

Evelyn ignored the reference to her diligence because she knew the compulsion she felt had turned to obsession long ago. "If she agrees to be interviewed, I'll fly out there and meet her."

"And get away from all this?" Lorraine spread her arms to indicate the sprawling two-story complex, of which Evelyn's office comprised only a small part of the third wing.

Outside, snow was falling so heavily Evelyn could no longer make out the Chugach Mountains. They'd had sixty inches since she arrived in September, and it was only January 13. "It'd be nice to feel the sun, warm up," she admitted.

"I wish I could go with you. I haven't been much farther from home than the prison."


Excerpted from Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak. Copyright © 2016 Brenda Novak. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

BRENDA NOVAK and her husband 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 working on her annual fund-raiser for diabetes research. Brenda's novels have made The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and won many awards, including three Rita nominations, the Book Buyer's Best, the Book Seller's Best and the National Reader's Choice Award.

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Her Darkest Nightmare 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous 23 days ago
Creepy and keeps you on the edge of your seat! Loved this suspenseful story with a little romance thrown into the mix?
Anonymous 25 days ago
Wow I don't know where to begin. This new series is very exciting. Thank you Brenda Novak for sharing your brilliance .
Anonymous 6 days ago
I'm a picky reader and this kept my attention till the end. It has great character development and plot twists. The only thing that kind of let me down is that the last two chapters and epilog seemed rushed and almost out of place.
AmyHiggs 10 days ago
Brenda Novak sure knows how to write suspense! I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen next in the novel! Evelyn Talbot is beautiful, strong, successful and so damaged. After enduring what Evelyn did at the hands of her high school love it is no surprise that she has a hard time letting anyone in. Amarok is patient, loving, and just the type of person Evelyn needs. While they can't ignore their attraction, they have so many obstacles standing in their way including a killer on the loose. Who is killing women? You'll have to read to find out! I loved all of the quotes by serial killers at the start of every chapter. I find them fascinating and disturbing. I am looking forward to the next book in The Evelyn Talbot series!
GwenL 10 days ago
Brenda Novak's best book yet! Wow! HER DARKEST NIGHTMARE is Brenda Novak’s best title! I know, it’s only my opinion, and I’m already a huge fan of Novak’s work. I found some of her backlist in a used book store, then jumped into the Whiskey Creek titles from the beginning. Loved them all, but she’s moved into a new realm with this new suspense novel. Basically, Evelyn Talbot is a forensic psychiatrist fascinated with psychopaths after her own nearly fatal encounter when she was 16. She has created Hanover House, a maximum security prison in a small Alaska town that is filled with psychopaths that she and her staff work with and study. Now, a serial killer is on the loose and many wonder if it’s a current inmate or the return of the nightmare of Evelyn’s teen years. HER DARKEST NIGHTMARE reminds me of the original Mary Higgins Clark titles. Novak’s suspenseful cliffhangers are dead on. I truly didn’t figure out the guilty party until about three pages before the unveiling. Novak has said in her newsletter that she began writing her Evelyn Talbot stories (there’s a prequel HANOVER HOUSE) in between contracted stories. Evelyn wouldn’t leave Novak alone until she was brought to life. I’m so glad Evelyn was brought to life, although I cannot imagine the type of research Novak had to put into the books. Each chapter of HER DARKEST NIGHTMARE opens with a quotation from a real serial killer. Given that I live 70 miles from Wichita, Kansas, the killing field for BTK — and worked in media when he returned in 2000s — I was even more fascinated by this book. And Novak’s research is so thorough that I actually “understood” psychopaths better, all the while knowing that we cannot truly understand them. I cannot wait for the next Evelyn Talbot title and urge you to add HER DARKEST NIGHTMARE to your to-be-read pile.
faerea1968 14 days ago
GREAT READ!! Her Darkest Nightmare was intense and captivating! I had a really hard time putting it down! The story takes place in a remote town in Alaska. The Hanover House is a high security penitentiary where the worst serial killer are housed while Dr. Evelyn Talbot and her associates study their behavior and thought patterns to see if they can bring light to what makes them the way they are. As you can imagine, it is not smooth sailing, as a matter of fact things go very wrong. This book was riveting, suspenseful and extremely well written. I loved it from cover to cover! It took off quickly and never slows down until the last page.
KelliJo 18 days ago
WOWOWOW!!! Don't turn the lights off! Novak delivers yet another intense ride through the Alaskan cold and blizzards to Hanover House! You cannot be sure who you can trust, if you're Dr Evelyn Talbot. Has Jasper found her? Is it someone she knows in Hilltop? At Hanover House? After two women are murdered, both worked at Hanover House, she cannot be sure. Evelyn's also trying to learn to trust Amorak - as a woman. Once you pick this one up, you WILL NOT be able to put it down!! Wish there were more Stars to give it!!
belle7171 19 days ago
After finishing Chapter 2, I had to put the book down. It was all I could do to NOT put the book in the freezer. I soldiered on, and really got into it. I don’t follow crime stories, nor watch any CSI programs, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I feel that Brenda Novak certainly did her research. Her Darkest Nightmare was creepy and twisty. I’m sure you can find the plot in the description, so I won’t go there. But I will say that I checked my doors and windows a couple of times while I was deep in the novel. The last half of the book, well yes, I DID stay up until 1:00 am to finish it. And no, I didn’t fall asleep that fast after, thanks to the last few pages. I’m loving that Ms. Novak is back at her suspense novels. While I know she has many contemporary romances, Her Darkest Nightmare will not be with them in my bookshelf, but will keep company with my thrillers!
ILuvBooks25 20 days ago
This is the second mystery/thriller/suspense book of Brenda's that I have read so I knew the style of writing that she used. Brenda did a great job of right away setting the scene of the book and grabbing your attention right away in the first couple chapters of the book. To not ruin it for readers it was definitely a surprising intro but definitely fit. In addition to setting the scene of the book she also was able to give you well developed characters that had pasts that were slowly uncovered through out the book. To be truly honest with my readers of this blog I did not finish this book. Before you think, was it the writing? No it honestly wasn't. Brenda is a phenomenal and talented author I just found that it was too much for me on the scary side. I am more of the mystery/romance and not as much about the thriller side of it. And once again being honest I did what no reader should do which is read the end of the story before reading the whole story... Oh well.. I had to know what happened and I was not disappointed. I am not sure that I will be reading from this particular series again if given the opportunity but I will still definitely be reading Brenda Novak's other books. I recommend this book to readers that like the Rizzoli and Isle books and Patricia Cornwell. If you do not like scary books like me then this really isn't your kind of book but check out her others books at her website: http://brendanovak.com
Anonymous 21 days ago
I really enjoy this series! Great thriller, mystery, suspense with romance that keeps you on your toes! The characters are well developed and I like the darker insite into the minds of killers. There was a massive loss of life which seemed almost overboard but the book was still entertaining. Looking forward to the next book!
Anonymous 21 days ago
JaymeBowman 23 days ago
This is book #2 in the Evelyn Talbot series (the first was Hanover House). I must admit, since it's been about a year since the first book, I had to flip through "Hanover House" to refresh myself with the basics of the characters. I wouldn't say it's necessary to read book #1 to get into this book, but I drove myself a little crazy wondering a few questions in the back of my head about her first encounters with the Alaskan State Trooper Amorak, and how she got to Hanover House in the first place :) Anyway, onto THIS story. Dr Evelyn is a damaged person because of her past. Her ex-boyfriend, Jasper Moore, killed her best friends and left her for dead when she was just a teenager. Now, in her adult life, she wants to know what makes psychopaths tick, and why they think the way they do. She runs a high security facility for mentally ill people in the middle of nowhere in Alaska. In the winter, it becomes even more remote when blizzards happen and roads become impassable. During these sort of times, two Hanover House employees are murdered. Considering where she works, everyone is a suspect...but in the back of her mind, she is wondering if her ex boyfriend Jasper has found her, and is back for more? Of course, Amorak is there to support, console, and otherwise seduce her into trusting him in a relationship. However they have a few years age difference (I believe seven years), that makes her uncomfortable. This is where things get a little frustrating as a reader. I understand playing hard to get, but I feel like TOO big of a deal was made out of such a small difference in age. However, many of Novak's books are this way. It takes sometimes longer than the reader would like, for the main character to finally give in to her feelings, even though acting like a tease. This is acceptable to me, because I'm used to it, but also because I was really more intrigued in the murder mystery/suspense aspect of the story. If you want straight Romance novels, Brenda Novak has plenty of those too, but my favorites are the ones where someone shows up dead, with a LITTLE romance involved. :) Overall I can't wait for the next book to come out. Keep the suspense coming Brenda!!!! :) Signed, A Loyal Reader
green____ 23 days ago
Outstanding from beginning to end! A romantic suspense that draws you in! Evelyn has a past that keeps coming back to haunt her... can she ever get past it? Murder and danger surrounds her... with the help of Amarok, can the two of them figure things out? I loved loved loved this book! I really enjoyed the twists and turns throughout! Brenda Novak is a truly talented writer that kept me guessing as to who the murderer truly was the whole way through! Definitely looking forward to more in this series! *copy given in exchange for an honest review.
carol223CS 23 days ago
Brenda Novak's Her Darkest Nightmare Her Darkest Nightmare is a fresh and uniquely different. The story takes place in the isolated town of Hilltop, Alaska. The Hanover House is a high security penitentiary where the worst serial killer are housed. They are here for Dr Evelyn Talbot to study the psychopathology of their behavior patterns. Out of the blue two Hanover House employees are grossly murdered. What is happening? Who could be responsible? Riveting, high octane, power packed with emotion, this story gets off to a fast starts and never slows down until the last page. It is quite a tangled web of clues, deception, lies and many secrets. Great read!!! Thank you to the author for this eBook. My opinion is my own. This book was so good that I bought it!!
adwest 24 days ago
First I should say that this isn't exactly the type of book I usually grab, where you know the hero/heroine end up happily ever after. However, Brenda Novak always has a way of drawing you in. Psychopaths, remote Alaska, and one guy to keep her safe? Definitely makes for an interesting read! You're drawn in and just hoping everything works out for the best! Seems like a good start to a new series! *arc provided by author for honest review
KerryACroucier 24 days ago
An Intense Psychological Ride! Her Darkest Nightmare is book one in Brenda Novak's new series, The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles, is full of suspense, thrills, and a bit of romance. Evelyn Talbot has made it her life's work to study the worst of the worst. She hopes that if she can understand their behavior maybe she can save lives. In order to accomplish this, she obtained funding for Hanover House, a prison built in remote Alaska with only a small town close by, to house the worst while she and the rest of the team study them. Not everyone is happy to have the facility near the town. The town's only full-time Law Enforcement officer, Sergeant Amarok worries about what will happen to his town with so many psychopaths close by. Despite his reservations, he finds himself intrigued by and attracted to Evelyn, the force behind Hanover House. Unfortunately, Evelyn has a good reason for her career-path: her high school boyfriend, Jasper, tortured and murdered her two best friends, and almost did the same to her, leaving her for dead. Jasper disappeared, leaving Evelyn continuously looking over her shoulder, especially after he recently tried again. Evelyn's past damaged her, leaving her wary of trusting any man. Amarok is determined to gain her trust and help her move forward with a healthy relationship, if he can make her forget that is a little younger than she is. When two of Hanover House's employees go missing and body parts start appearing around town, it looks like Amarok's worries about the facility are coming to fruition, which also puts a strain on any relationship with Evelyn, who is convinced that her past, not Hanover House, are to blame. It is an intense and psychological ride as these two work to figure out who is behind the latest crime spree. Evelyn's interactions with the inmates she is studying are chilling, and more than a little scary. Both Evelyn and Amarok are strong characters with their own baggage, but I really like them together, especially since Amarok knows her past and is willing to fight for the chance to be with Evelyn, no matter how long it takes. I did read the prequel, Hanover House, and while it gives a little more background on Evelyn, Amarok, Hanover House, and the psychopath from her past, you can easily enjoy this book without having read it. There is also plenty to look forward to in the next book of the series, which I can't wait to read! **I received an Advanced Reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.
bp124 27 days ago
Brenda Novak has written an excellent book that i couldn't put down. This book is a very suspenseful read with so many twists and turns and surprises that you never see coming. There is also some romance thrown in for good measure. Brenda did an excellent job with her characters and descriptions, as always. Dr. Evelyn Talbot is a fighter who has survived quite a bit in her lifetime. I love the way Brenda always seems to make her females characters such strong, believable people that you would love to meet in person. I'm not sure I could survive those crazy Alaskan winter storms. I can't wait to see what comes next in this series! If they are anything like this one and Hanover House, they will surely be winners. Keep them coming Brenda!
kdjohnston73 27 days ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I've been in a reading slump lately and just couldn't seem to find anything that grabbed my attention. Her Darkest Nightmare by Ms Brenda Novak was exactly what I needed! It was such a suspensful, thrilling book! Definitely another winner for this author!!!
Anonymous 27 days ago
Couldn't Put it Down! Although not my genre of preferred reading, I found myself totally into the twists, turns, surprises and romance found in the psychological thriller Her Darkest Nightmare. Evelyn Talbot was kidnapped in her teens and left for dead. A doctor, she now studies the psychopathic behavior of serial killers at Hanover House, a prison facility, in a small town in Alaska. State Trooper Amarok is not pleased to have Hanover House in his community. Brenda, a gifted writer, once again draws her audience into a fascinating book.
Mommalj8 27 days ago
SHE'S BACK!! Although I really enjoy Brenda's contemporary romance series, I first admired her thriller and romantic suspense novels and now she is back to the genre. Brenda always has a psychological edge to her suspense novels and she has improved over time like a fine wine. I couldn't put it down and am impatiently awaiting the next chapter in Evelyn's romance with Amarok and the many serial killers she is studying. Brenda's characters are always so true to life and you can relate to them.
KimP65 27 days ago
I don't even know where to begin. This book was beyond fantastic. It has intrigue, mystery, psychological terror, a splash of romance and one of the best story lines I've read in ages! Evelyn Talbot doesn't seem like a character that would invoke compassion on the surface but there are so many layers to her. Delving into her psyche is like cutting an onion, there is layer after layer, each revealing with some pleasing and some not so pleasing. We had a previous introduction to her but her character truly develops in this book, giving us more understanding of what makes her tick. Her fascination with serial killers comes off at first as something creepy but as we learn more about her and her past we get a better understanding of what she's really trying to do. Amarok, well what can you say, he's just the perfect flawed hero! The setting in Alaska is thrilling, just in it's closeness to nature and the wilds lends so much to the story, I don't think the story would have had the same effect if it were written in another location. Overall this is just a fantastic read with deep, evolving characters that has a story line that is boundless!
cgarr 27 days ago
I enjoy all of Brenda Novak's books and this one was no different. Her Darkest Nightmare is a perfect mix of mystery with a touch of creepy and romance. Putting a prison for psychopaths in Alaska makes for a perfect setting for all kinds of interesting characters. Evelyn has personally survived a horrible encounter with a psychopath. In order to survive, she sets her path to try to understand why diagnosed criminal psychopaths behave the way they do. When two employees of Hanover House disappear the mystery begins. The story takes a number of twists with a lot of interesting characters which keep you guessing. Amarok is a great guy. He is appealing and is a perfect match for Evelyn even though she keeps denying it. The two make a great team. The story is fast paced and a just a little creepy. I can't wait for the next installment of the Hanover House series.
Robbiebee 27 days ago
Make sure you give yourself a big block of time when you pick up the book, you won 't want to stop until you reach the end. At 16, Evelyn Talbot's boyfriend attacked her and tried to kill her. Now she studies psychopaths trying to figure out why they do what they do. It seems, though, that Evelyn's past may have followed her to the small town in Alaska that house the prison and the program she runs. Two women, both who work at the prison, have been gruesomely killed. Now it seems Evelyn is in the killer's sites. She has no idea who she can trust, but she knows she needs to figure out who the killer is before someone else winds up dead. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
heathercm2001 27 days ago
This had the perfect setting and story for a creepy and thrilling book. It all came together perfectly and had me analyzing all the dark shadows and slightest sounds in my house. There was a lot going on at Hanover House, even more than the psychopath inmates. There seemed to be trouble everywhere, and unraveling the web of mystery was fascinating. Brenda Novak's writing gave me chills and had my nerves on edge. I couldn't put it down, so I was up late reading this. If you have a hard time sleeping right after reading something hair-raising, you might want to save this one for daylight hours. Evelyn was a great character. Her past is always with her, and it must be exhausting to constantly be on guard, and analyzing everything. She goes through a lot in this book, and she experiences a huge range of emotions, but she keeps going. I really liked Amarok too. He is almost the opposite of Evelyn. He's younger and not as experienced, but he does well with the investigation. They make an interesting pair. I was also intrigued by the research and information in the book, as well as the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They connected the story to reality for me, which added to the creep factor. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
sbart84 28 days ago
An intense psychological thriller that will keep you turning the pages. Many twists and turns of who done it. Evelyn has a past that always keeps her on guard and now to be the psychologist at Hanover House, keeps her always looking over her back. Now when two of her friends are murdered, she is a little more than nervous. Love Amarok, the town trooper, who has the hots for Evelyn. Love how he is so patient with her. Brenda must have done a lot of research and it shows in her story telling, I stayed up way late reading this book. I highly recommend this book!!