In Seconds [NOOK Book]


They're back…

Laurel Hodges has changed her identity twice. She's been on the run for the past four years, trying to outdistance the gang members who blame her for the death of one of their own. She's finally found peace and stability in the small town of Pineview, Montana. But just when Laurel thinks she and her children are safe…the nightmare starts all over again.

The ...
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In Seconds

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They're back…

Laurel Hodges has changed her identity twice. She's been on the run for the past four years, trying to outdistance the gang members who blame her for the death of one of their own. She's finally found peace and stability in the small town of Pineview, Montana. But just when Laurel thinks she and her children are safe…the nightmare starts all over again.

The Crew, a ruthless prison gang with ties to Laurel's brother, will never forget and they'll never forgive. And now that they've finally tracked her down, they'll stop at nothing.

Sheriff Myles King, who happens to live next door with his thirteen-year-old daughter, appoints himself Laurel's personal guardian. His growing attraction to her could change his life—Myles is beginning to picture marriage and family. But it could also end his life. If he can't save her, everything he's built, everything he wants, could be destroyed. In seconds…

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I felt a real connection to the characters... It was an exciting, intriguing read."
-First for Women Magazine on Killer Heat

Novak "builds her characters and plot by adding genuine and recognizable feelings-from angst to passion to terror and beyond... A great end to a wonderful series."
-Suspense Magazine on Killer Heat

Body Heat "is a definite page-turner."
-RT Book Reviews

"Novak expertly blends romantic thrills, suspenseful chills, and realistically complicated characters together in a white-knuckle read that is certain to keep readers riveted to the last page." -Booklist on Body Heat

"Brenda Novak has written the best high-action thriller of 2010. White Heat far exceeded my expectations. From page one I was immediately hooked on this fast action plot that was like solving a Chinese puzzle box." -Midwest Book Review

With "distinctive characters and a nail biting plot, Novak's White Heat is flawless and easily a Best of 2010 contender."
-Suspense Magazine

"Novak writes gripping romantic thrillers."
-Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459211766
  • Publisher: MIRA
  • Publication date: 8/30/2011
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 72,297
  • File size: 462 KB

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

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Read an Excerpt

Pineview, Montana

It was the murder that triggered everything. The moment Laurel Hodges—Vivian Stewart as of two years ago—heard about it, everything she'd been through, everything she'd done to escape her past, came rushing back at her. And it happened at a place where she'd felt completely safe only seconds before. She was having highlights put in her hair at Claire's Salon, which wasn't much of a salon, just an add-on to her friend's small home.

Although Claire had grown up here, Vivian had lived in Pineview only since she'd assumed her most recent identity. She'd chosen this town because it had an extremely low crime rate, it was so far from where she'd been before and it was on the backside of nowhere. She'd never dreamed the people who'd been chasing her for four years would think to look here. And it'd been a long enough stretch of peace and quiet to believe the terrible years were over. She'd left her old self behind, adjusted, established her fledgling purse-design business and begun to live again. She and her two children—Mia, seven, and Jake, nine—were finally starting to belong.

And now, in the blink of an eye, everything they'd created here felt threatened.

"What'd you say?" Lifting the hood of the commercial hair dryer, she leaned out so she could hear. The postman, George Grannuto, had just walked through the doors Claire had flung wide so they could enjoy the breezy June morning while she vented the fumes of the hair-coloring chemicals.

"Pat Stueben's dead," he repeated, handing Claire her mail. "He's been murdered." His face, drained of its usual ruddy color, made him appear years older than he was. Vivian knew his exact age—fifty-five—because she'd attended his birthday party last month. His wife was part of her Thursday-night book group.

Claire, only five foot three or so, leaned on the broom she'd been using to sweep up hair. Vivian had wanted a sassy cut to signify the freedom and happiness she'd been experiencing so often of late. She'd also gone back to being a blonde, which was her natural color. But going so short was a big change. Now she couldn't help staring at the dark brown locks lying on the floor, feeling as if she'd just shed her skin.

"How? When?" Claire brought a hand to her chest. George's words had obviously shocked her as much as they had Vivian. With the disappearance of her mother fifteen years ago and the death of her husband after only a few years of marriage, Claire had had more than her share of bad news. And now this… "Leanne and I saw him and Gertie at Fresh Ketch last night," she said. "They were in the booth next to ours."

Tall and bony, George resembled a cartoon stork delivering a baby when he carried his bulging mailbag down Claire's little dead-end street, and the shorts that went with his warm-weather uniform didn't improve his appearance. They revealed stiltlike legs with knobby knees and varicose veins. But he always wore a smile. Except today.

"Someone called him," he explained, "wanting to rent one of those cabins he owns over on the north shore. So after breakfast he drove around the lake to show the property—and never came back."

If he'd said that Pat had died of a heart attack, Vivian wouldn't have found it difficult to believe. Pat was no longer as svelte as the picture posted on his real-estate signs. But…murdered? That couldn't be. They still didn't know what'd happened to Claire's mother, but no one had ever been killed in this tranquil place, not in recent memory. Folks here didn't even lock their doors at night. If the community had more deaths than some, that was because it had more seniors.

The old cloying fear welled up, making it hard for Vivian to breathe, let alone talk. After two attempts to clear her throat, she managed to find her voice. "Who discovered him?"

"Gertie." The clicking sound George made with his tongue was shorthand for "this makes it even worse."

"When he didn't come home, she drove over to see what was keeping him. You know how close they are. Were," he corrected. "The scene when she walked in was—" He shook his head.

"She got there too late?" Claire asked this question; Vivian was still chasing words around the vortex of panic in her head.

George lowered his voice. "She found him lying in a pool of blood, beaten senseless. He died before he could tell her anything."

The hair on the back of Vivian's neck stood on end. Beaten senseless? Who could hate Pat enough to kill him—and in such a violent manner? No one from Pine-view. He was popular, jovial, well-liked.

Did this tragedy mean what she thought it might?

"Do they know who did it?" Claire beat Vivian to the question that was uppermost in her mind. It was obviously important to Claire, too, and it wasn't hard to guess why, not with a mother who'd been missing for nearly two decades.

"I don't think so," George replied. "Maybe that would be different if we had cell phone service here, but we don't. And if the sheriff knows anything, he's not talking."

Sheriff King happened to be Vivian's next-door neighbor, so she knew him, at least a little. He wasn't the type to divulge details until he was good and ready, especially if doing so might jeopardize a case. Myles was a by-the-book kind of cop. He was also a handsome widower with a thirteen-year-old daughter. He'd asked Vivian out on occasion, but she'd never accepted. Claire said she was crazy for rejecting him, but she was still trying to get over Rex McCready, her brother's best friend who'd entered WitSec—witness protection—when she did. Besides, she was afraid to get too close to anyone who was unaware of her real situation for fear her past would come crashing into her present, just like it seemed to be doing today.

"How do you know all this?" There. She'd found her voice again. She'd also come to her feet.

"My route covers the whole lake." He gestured toward Crystal Lake, even though they couldn't see it from this part of town. Claire's house was artsy, in a hippie sort of way, but it was located on the poor side of Pineview.

Claire started to speak, but Vivian plowed over her. "You were at the scene?"

"I was. So was the coroner, the sheriff, some detectives and forensic techs from the county. Boy, were they were a grim bunch. The sheriff was downright stone-faced."

For good reason…

Heedless of the hair clippings that remained on the floor, Claire set her broom aside. "Is he the one who told you about Pat?"

"No, C. C. Larsen did. When Gertie found him, she ran to C.C.'s to use the phone."

"But C.C.'s house is a quarter of a mile from those rentals," Claire said. Having lived here her whole life, she knew every street, every alley, every empty field and rental cabin. She'd searched them all, at some point, for her mother.

He adjusted his bag to redistribute the weight. "She didn't want to go to another rental for fear of who might be there. You can understand." Wrinkling his nose, he added, "C.C. and I watched 'em cart out the body."

"This is terrible," Vivian muttered, but she wasn't really thinking about what she was saying. She was wondering if the panic intensifying her sadness over Pat's death was justified or simply an echo of an earlier time.

"I tried to get a few more details from the sheriff, but…it was useless," George said. "He told me he's 'investigating the incident' and that he'll know more later. He also said everything will be okay. But I don't see how it can ever be okay for Gertie."

The sheriff had answered without really answering.

Vivian recognized his "cop-speak" because she'd heard it before. When her stepfather had been shot and killed, the investigators wouldn't tell her or her family anything. Not knowing what was really going on had been almost as agonizing as learning that they were placing the blame on Virgil, her older brother, and prosecuting him, at eighteen, for murder.

"We've got a right to more information than that," Claire complained. "It's our community, too."

George nodded. "I see those shows on TV. I know what can happen when a serial killer gets started. Psychopaths don't quit till someone stops 'em. And this sounds like a psychopath to me. Who else would beat a man to death for no reason?"

"Do you think maybe some drug addict wanted Pat's wallet and he wouldn't give it up?" Vivian grasped at any feasible explanation, hoping the truth wasn't what she feared.

"It's possible, I suppose," George replied. "C.C. told me that Gertie said his wallet was missing. But there was only about fifty bucks inside. Still, a bungled robbery would be better than a serial killer. Imagine someone like that Zodiac fella or—or BTK setting up shop here in the Chain of Lakes."

Vivian couldn't imagine it. That was the problem. Claire's mother disappearing fifteen years ago was the only blemish on this town, and most folks believed she'd run off. Pineview, nestled so close to Crystal Lake, was picture-perfect. Safe. Close-knit. Stunningly beautiful. Untouched by the rest of the world. Apart from it, too. As George had said, Pineview didn't even have cell-phone reception.

It did, however, have its first modern-day murder.

"The FBI would descend on us. The media, too." George was expanding on his psychopath theory.

Claire checked the street, probably hoping to see her sister, Leanne, roll toward them in her motorized wheelchair. Crippled in a sledding accident when she was thirteen, Leanne drove it everywhere, even through the ruts on their road. "Maybe Chester over at the paper will get a letter from the killer, taunting Sheriff King."

George staggered under the weight of his bag. "Or someone else will die."

A real-estate agent beaten to death inside his own vacation rental spoke more of rage than a stalking type of murder, but Vivian didn't say so. She preferred to fade into the background, didn't want Claire or George to think she knew anything about the subject. No one here had any idea that her stepfather had been murdered, or that her brother had served fourteen years in prison before being exonerated. They had no idea of the problems that had started upon his release, either. Because all of that had happened to Laurel Hodges, not Vivian Stewart.

"If there's a serial killer running around, the danger is far from over," Claire said, but Vivian wasn't so sure this perpetrator had killed just for the thrill of it. If the violent gang her brother had joined while he was in prison had caught up with her yet again, it could be that Pat had merely gotten in the way. Like that U.S. marshal in one of the places she'd been before. The Crew had slit his throat and left him bleeding out on the floor. They would've killed her, too, if not for—

She couldn't even think of what had almost happened, because it involved her children. The men who belonged to The Crew were ruthless. They'd proven that, hadn't they? They'd also proven that they could get hold of whatever information they wanted. Vivian was convinced that someone in the very agency charged with their protection had been talking. That was the only way The Crew could've found them before, when they were all living in D.C. So they'd left the witness protection program, assumed new identities yet again and separated. Other than Virgil, his wife, Peyton, and Rex, who lived in Buffalo, New York, no one knew where she was, not even their handler from WitSec who'd helped them relocate the first time. After all that, what more could she possibly do to keep her small family safe?

Should she have changed her children's names, too? Because children were so difficult to trace—they didn't sign up for credit cards or get jobs or do any of the other things that left a trail—she'd opted to keep their first names. They had a different last name, though, which they understood was because of her divorce. Her new first name, she'd told them, was because she liked it better. Even that had taken them a while to get used to.

"We need to look out for each other, report any strangers we see," Claire said.

"But it's tourist season," George responded. "There're always strangers this time of year, most of 'em young guys who've come to hunt or fish or canoe. And you know how rough some of 'em can look, with all their tattoos and body piercings."

"Then we'll have to keep an eye on all of them." Claire glanced at Vivian, anticipating her full agreement, and did a double take. "Oh, my God! We've got to get you rinsed!"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it!!!

    This is Brenda's second book in her Pineview Trilogy. I was captivated from the beginning starting with the immediate murder of a close neighbor. I love books that start with a bang! I loved the small town backdrop of this series. The characters were very realistic you wanted to root for Vivian (Laurel) and Virgil. The suspense in this story had you nestled in your covers at night afraid that the "crew" was at your back door. The romance in this story was not farfectched like other books. I would recommend this book it has just the right amount of suspense and romance..the perfect balance. I look forward to the finale in the series due to come on in October.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2014

    This was full of romance and suspense. I thought we would be see

    This was full of romance and suspense. I thought we would be seeing Laurel and Rex get their happily ever after, but that was not the case. I think that may have made the book even better. Laurel moves to the small town of Pineview, Montana. She has started up her own business, and essentially, a whole new life. This new life includes her neighbor, the sheriff, Myles, but she tries to stay away from him because she has so many secrets. Everything starts to fall apart when the people who are trying to kill her and her family come to town. She is determined to stay where she is and face The Crew head on, once and for all.

    Brenda Novak's characters in this book were great! It was wonderful to see Laurel doing so well, and her kids settling in. Jake seems to be growing up, and it was interesting to see how he is so determined to form bonds with people, while his mom is kind of doing the opposite. Myles had a great story too, which made it easier to accept that things did not work out with Rex. I loved when Myles and Laurel (Vivian) butt heads. They are great together! As weird as it sounds, I liked seeing Ink again too. I find his character fascinating, a complete psychopath, but fascinating. Novak does such a magnificent job writing the good guys, but she is amazing with the bad ones too. This was just an all-around great book! I loved seeing more of the characters from the first book, and hope to see more of everyone soon! 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2014

    Great Book

    Great Read, Enjoyed it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013

    loved it

    Loved all 3 in the series.

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  • Posted May 31, 2012

    I am a fan of small town romances and I love the way the story s

    I am a fan of small town romances and I love the way the story starts off strong and never lets up. The characters feel so real. This is a great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    In Seconds

    Action packed, fast paced page turner. Enjoyed it and liked reading more about Vigil, Peyton and Rex.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    Highly recommended!

    This was my first Brenda Novak novel and I loved it. I had to buy the other novel "In Close" also and loved it too. She is one of my new favorite authors and I look forward to reading her other novels. She has mystery, suspense, and romance. I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    Very good !!!

    Just finished my first Novak book. It was very good will read the rest of the series. The only thing is the ending I wanted more. I read 400 pages to get to the end and it was all summed up in less than 20 pages. But it eas still good.

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  • Posted January 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    excitement and danger

    Ms. Novak has done it again with another great joy for her fans and other readers looking for a great read. Although this is the second book in the series and I always recommend to read in order, each book can also stand on its own, and you are given enough background information so as not to be lost. This is a book I had a hard time putting down; tons of excitement and danger, some romance and excellent storyline to satisfy. Matilda Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    I'm Novak's Newest Fan

    "In Seconds" by Brenda Novak:

    Vivian Stewart's (formerly Laurel Hodges) life with her two children and purse design business has once again become the backdrop for several murders, this time in Pineview, Montana, the newest place she's run to in order to escape her former existence.
    Realtor Pat Steuben's wife Gertie, finds him murdered inside one of their cabins for rent. He was beaten to death.
    Sheriff Myles King-the head lawman in Pineview-is determined to find Pat's killer. It quickly becomes obvious that Vivian may have more than a few answers-to his questions-stemming from the "thorny" past of her brother Virgil. The problem? She's not sharing, determined to keep her past as hidden as her fiercely growing feelings of desire for Myles. The dilemma with keeping secrets? People you love can and will get hurt.or worse.
    Did I mention Myles is falling for her, too? He learns of her complicated past, and while the sheriff in him needs to solve Pat's murder, the man wants to protect Vivian and her children.
    Even though we are privy to who's guilty from the beginning, watching Novak's characters leap off the page was nothing short of spectacular. At first, I felt she was dragging out the inevitable, but I read on and before I knew it, I was happily sucked in. And as I reached the summit of the story, I was mesmerized as Novak brought everything and everyone full circle to create a magnificent ending that did not disappoint. Her weaving of a tale is an extraordinary mix of deadly-serious moments with lust and even teeny bits of humor perfectly peppered throughout. The way she sparks your imagination, allowing a full-color picture to come into view, is brilliant. She expertly puts the pieces together and makes it a very intriguing read, easily displaying why she's so popular. This was my first book of Novak's and I was captivated. A splendid author and a must read.

    Reviewed by Terri Ann Armstrong, author of "Morning Menace" & "Medieval Menace"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2011

    Loved It!

    Absolutely adore Brenda Novak - can't wait for the third in this series!

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  • Posted September 29, 2011


    I have enjoyed many of Brenda Novak's novels. I did not enjoy this book as much of the others because I found Laurell character not as strong as in her other books. She was a bit too winey for my taste. But I would still recommend this author.

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  • Posted August 29, 2011

    GREAT Read

    Where do you go when there's nowhere left to hide? That's a question Laurel Hodges-as of two years ago, Vivian Stewart-asks herself when a local realtor is brutally murdered.

    In Seconds is the story of Laurel Hodges, sister of Virgil Skinner, the hero in Inside, Book One in Brenda Novak's new Bulletproof series.

    In Book One, Inside, Laurel's brother Virgil Skinner, exonerated after serving fourteen years for a crime he didn't commit, agreed to infiltrate a gang in California's Pelican Bay maximum security prison in exchange for protection for his sister and her two children. However, The Crew, a notorious gang to which Virgil belonged in order to survive, can't forget what they consider his betrayal, and they're out to get Virgil, his sister, and friend Rex McCready. At the end of Inside, Virgil, his wife Peyton, Laurel and Rex had relocated to Washington, DC.

    After having been found by The Crew, they've had to re-locate again, and for the past two years, Laurel is living in Pineview, a small Montana town where, under the assumed identity of Vivian Stewart, she hopes she has finally eluded the revenge-seeking gang members. Here, she's finally bought a house and started an online business making classy handbags. She also has developed an unwelcome interest in her sexy neighbor, Sheriff Myles King. However, because of her past, she's content to let the interest remain unfulfilled. Until she proposes a one-night stand with Myles, on the promise that he will not try to see her again. Myles, however, is also attracted and realizes he wants much more from Vivian. After being widowed for three years, he's ready to start living again, but caught in a moment of weakness, he agrees to the tryst. It is both exhilarating and a letdown, and Vivian at once regrets her hasty decision.

    When a local realtor is brutally murdered, warning bells echo in Vivian's mind. Her friend Claire, the town's hairdresser, wonders if the murder has any connection to the disappearance of her mother fifteen years earlier, but Vivian wonders if it's an omen that The Crew may have finally located her. When she learns from her brother that Ink, one of the vengeful gang members has escaped from prison along with a youthful cellmate, she is determined to protect herself and her children at all costs, but her dilemma is that she can't tell Myles about it and she can't allow her feelings for him to get in the way.

    Ms. Novak pens a gritty story with her usual superb characterization. Viewpoints move with dramatic realism between Vivian, Myles, Virgil, Rex and Ink and his prison cellmate accomplice. I couldn't put down this well-plotted and compelling, character-driven story until I had finished it...well into the wee hours of morning. It was wonderful to see the reappearance of Virgil and Rex from Inside, and though I wanted to see Rex achieve his happy ending, I felt Myles was the perfect man for Vivian. All in all a superb series. Wonderful characters, tense drama, realism and darned good reading are some of the trademarks that keep Ms. Novak on bestseller lists.

    Originally posted at the Long and Short of It Romance Reviews

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  • Posted August 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a tense thriller

    She has kept her present persona as Laurel Hodges for two years. Laurel and her two children (seven year old Mia and nine year old Jake) have felt safe in remote Pineview Montana. That is as safe as a person can be while running from a vicious prison gang; her brother Virgil joined The Crew while inside of California's Pelican Bay Maximum Security Prison. The Crew blames her when she was Vivian Stewart for the death of a member. The Crew never forgets.

    Her feelings of security end with the murder of fifty-five years old Pat Steuben. Laurel believes the Crew has come to Big Sky country hunting for her. Her neighbor Sheriff Myles King investigates the homicide that has shaken the townsfolk, but though deeply attracted to her neighbor she trusts no one as the Witness Protection Program sold her out to the ruthless Crew.

    The second Bulletproof romantic suspense (see Inside) moves from exonerated Virgil to his still in trouble sister. The story line is action-packed from the moment the local postman announces the murder of Pat and never slows down as more murders occur, which has Laurel believing she is the cause and Myles protecting the woman and kids he loves. Brenda Novak provides a tense thriller.

    Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 24, 2011

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    Posted April 29, 2012

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    Posted November 18, 2011

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    Posted October 25, 2012

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    Posted October 2, 2011

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