Saturday, January 16, 2016

Seriously, Don't Bother

Source: Author Website
Hanover House by Brenda Novak (Brenda Novak, Inc., 2015, 244pp.)

Twenty years ago, Evelyn Talbot was raped and brutalized by her high school boyfriend and left for dead. After years of therapy, she’s now a forensic psychiatrist who studies the psychopathic mind. Her latest achievement is the opening of a new facility in Hilltop, Alaska, where she can study the worst humanity has to offer. Not surprisingly, there’s resistance from the locals, who protest her facility’s arrival by defacing its buildings. When she reports the damage, it brings her into contact with good-looking Sergeant Amarok, an Alaskan state trooper. Although Evelyn feels that her early-life trauma ruined her for romantic relationships, she is surprised when her interactions with Amarok awaken long-dead feelings of physical desire. Is the time finally right for her to move on from her tortuous past? Possibly. Except what she doesn’t know is that her past, i.e. ex-boyfriend Jasper, is close behind.

Hanover House is a short prequel that serves as the foundation for a new romantic suspense/thriller series. After finishing it, however, all I can say is that I hope the rest of the series is better, because this founding installment stinks. Okay, so I do have to give Novak credit for her idea: Hanover House has a lot of elements to make an interesting story. For example, Evelyn’s desire to pursue a rewarding career conflicts with her worry-stricken mother’s desire to keep her safe. Evelyn also desires to have healthy romantic relationships, despite the crippling intimacy issues that stem from her early trauma. Oh, and let’s not forget the angry Alaskan locals who fear for their families’ safety, despite the research breakthroughs that might occur at the facility. Although that’s just three items in a list, it’s quite a bit of ground to cover—and a novella certainly isn’t the proper medium one should use to explore that much material. However, that’s just what we get. At 244 pages, Hanover House covers a novel’s worth of story ideas with the brevity of a “serial killer of the week” episode you might see in a weekly crime series. As a result, it’s more of a shallow preview than a proper work on its own. Add to this the story’s unremarkable cast of characters, and an anti-climactic ending, and you have one poorly written excuse for a story.

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