Trust Me

Brenda Novak
2008, Romantic Suspense
MIRA, $6.99, 448 pages, Amazon ASIN 0778324125
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

Trust Me is the first book in a trilogy featuring the women of The Last Stand, an organization that focuses on helping survivors of violent crimes. The book is fast, exciting, and very suspenseful. While there is a romance in the book, it is rather muted and not a prominent element.

Skye Kellerman was once happy, trusting ,and carefree. All that changed when Dr. Oliver Burke broke into her apartment, attacked and nearly raped her. Skye fought back, stabbing him with embroidery scissors and her testimony put him in San Quentin. Ever since then, Skye has thrown all her energy into The Last Stand, an organization she founded for survivors of violent crimes.

During the course of Burke’s trial, Skye and detective David Willis, who worked the case, were attracted to each other, but neither are ready for a relationship. Skye works constantly with The Last and Stand, and David has his own set of problems to deal with, most notably an ex-wife who is sick with MS and who preys on his sense of guilt. As he worked the case, David thought that Burke was the culprit in a couple of unsolved murders where the women were attacked in a manner similar to the attack on Skye – but he needs proof.

The story begins as Oliver Burke gets out of jail early due to a deal he cut with prison officials. Burke has been an outwardly model prisoner, but he secretly kept a diary into which he poured all his obsessive fantasies about Skye. Burke wants to go back and finish the job. However, Skye is not the soft trusting woman she was several years ago.

There is more to the story – much more. Brenda Novak shows how Burke’s conviction affected his family, Skye’s family, and David’s family. Burke is not a stereotypical strong, hulking brutal villainous type. Oliver Burke is a dentist and a small, quiet, soft-spoken man. His outward appearance is misleading, since he is twisted and rotten to the core. His evil has cast a blight on his victims and his own family, who stood by him. It’s not until he is released that they realize what a monster he is.

Brenda Novak wrote Skye and David as realistic characters who elicited my empathy. Neither is larger than life - both are flawed. They don’t always do the right thing. They make mistakes, they hurt other people, they take the wrong step, but they have good intentions and they are both deeply committed to seeing that justice is done. By the end of the book, they are engaged to be married, but their romance is not as prominent a part of the book as the suspense plot.

I first read the author's Harlequin Superromance titles and she became an auto-buy for me. When she made the jump to single titles, I followed along and enjoyed her single titles as much as her series romances. Trust Me will be followed by Stop Me in July, and Watch Me in August. This is one series I will definitely be following.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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