Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review (ARC) ~ Inside By Brenda Novak

Author ~ Brenda Novak
Publisher ~ Mira
Pages ~ 400
Publication Date ~ June 28, 2011
Source ~ NetGalley

About the book ~ 

Dangerous to know...

Virgil Skinner served fourteen years for a murder he didn’t commit. He’s finally been exonerated, but he can’t escape the gang he joined in order to survive. They’ll do anything to keep him from telling what he knows. And if they can’t get to Virgil they’ll go after his sister and her kids.

The California Department of Corrections needs someone to infiltrate another gang, one that’s taking control of the state’s most notorious supermax. Virgil agrees to do it under an alias—in exchange for his sister’s protection.

Chief Deputy Warden Peyton Adams is opposed to having Virgil in her prison. How will she protect him if things go bad? Besides, she’s far too attracted to him; she might even be falling in love with him. That makes her all the more desperate to keep him safe—and it gives him someone else to lose.

My thoughts ~ 

Peyton Adams steps into a world filled with drugs, violence, gangs, and mayhem every single day as Deputy Chief Warden of the Pelican Bay Prison. And she loves it. But she knows that things aren’t perfect and that changes need to be made. She strongly believes that she is going to be the one to make those changes, especially the perception that Pelican Bay is one of the headquarters for gang violence. Peyton has a vested interest in implementing changes in the prison system. Years ago, just a few weeks shy of his release date, her father was stabbed to death in prison. It was a murder that should never have happened. Since then, she has made it her mission to correct what is wrong with the prison system.

Gangs in prison are like snow in February; you know it exists, yet you hope they’ll disappear. These gangs rule with an iron fist, they take no prisoners (no pun intended), and they are extremely violent. Two of the largest gangs at Pelican Bay are The Neustra Family and Hell’s Fury. Hell’s Fury is rumored to be behind the hit on a judge. The only way to bring down this gang is to try and put someone in the inside. 

Rick Wallace, an associate director with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has his eyes on the big prize, the top job. And he doesn’t particularly care who he steps on to get there. He has devised a plan, Operation Inside, where he will put, (what prisons officials believe to be) an undercover operative into the system in order to ferret out the person who ordered the hit on the judge. Peyton is far from thrilled with this plan, but Rick doesn’t care all that much what she thinks. He knows that the success of this operation will bring the accolades he believes he so rightfully deserves. 

Simeon Bennett (real name Virgil Skinner) is the man that Rick Wallace is placing inside Peyton’s prison. Believed to be an operative of Department 6 (see the Hired Gun series), he himself was in a prison many years ago, and Rick feels he has the “prisoner mentality” needed to infiltrate Hell’s Fury. But when Peyton doesn’t buy his cover story, she does some digging and finds out that Virgil has just spent the past 14 years in a prison for a murder he didn’t commit. However, he did commit certain acts that could keep him in prison if he doesn’t help Rick out. He is also is hoping that this job will help him break free of his ties to the gang, The Crew, that he had to join when he was incarcerated in order to keep himself protected and safe. Since The Crew hasn’t heard from Virgil since his release, they firmly believe he is going to turn on them and begin to hunt him down so that they can take him out before he spills their secrets. What they don’t realize is that even though he is working with the DOC, and despises being part of a gang, he still sees them as family. Family would never turn on family. Now Virgil must do whatever it takes to keep his real family (sister, Laurel, niece, Mia, and nephew, Jake) alive and away from the deadly clutches of The Crew.

From the second that Peyton and Virgil meet the attraction is white hot. You can feel the pheromones coming off their skin. There is no denying the desire they feel for each other. But a prisoner/warden relationship, no matter what the circumstances the prisoner is incarcerated for, is a major no-no. Additionally, is the challenge that they come from two different worlds, and once this case is over he will disappear into the Witness Protection Program with his sister and her family, and she will still be the Deputy Chief Warden. But as the preparations for him to enter the prison get under way the death toll also rises and the stakes get higher, and Virgil and Peyton can no longer fight their attraction to one another. The soon realize they must work together, both inside and outside the prison walls, in order to save themselves and those they love. 

I LOVED Inside. It has the perfect combination of drama, intensity, love, mystery, and sex. The characters are likeable, and you’ll find yourself cheering for them right from the start. Despite only knowing each other for such a short time, Peyton and Virgil will have you rooting for them to get together, to find each other, and to give into their passion. If you’re the type that finds the whole meet, fall-in-love, and be-together-forever in a three-day-time-period impossible, than this book is not for you. But if you’re a fan of the intense, white-hot, know-from-the-second-you-meet-someone passion that is true to the romantic suspense genre, than make sure to pick up a copy of Inside, because this book defines it to a T.

Click the title to pre-order your copy TODAY ~ Inside

About the author ~ 

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. She juggles her writing career with her children’s softball and soccer games, field trips, carpool runs and homework sessions.

When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually working on her annual fundraiser for diabetes research—an on-line auction held at her website May 1st – May 31st. 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!

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