Watch Me

Brenda Novak
2008, Romantic Suspense
MIRA, $6.99, 427 pages, Amazon ASIN 0778325261
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

Brenda Novak brings us the third book in her Last Stand series with Watch Me, which is set in Tennessee. Itís a very satisfying third part to what appears to be an ongoing series. Iíve read and enjoyed the first two books, and settled in to a nicely suspenseful read.

Years ago in Whiterock, Tennessee, while Sheridan Kohl was parked by a lake with Jason Wyatt, someone shot at them, killing Jason and injuring Sheridan. The Kohls left town soon after and no one was arrested for Jasonís murder. Sheridan now lives in Sacramento where she and two of her friends run The Last Stand, a victimís rights organization, which has consumed her time for a number of years. When she gets word of some new developments back in Whiterock, Sheridan goes there to investigate. At the site where she and Jason were attacked, someone knocks her down, beats her badly and almost buries her alive. Alerted by his dogs, Cain Granger, Jasonís stepbrother, appears and scares off the attacker. After a short hospital stay, Cain takes Sheridan home with him so she can recover from her injuries, and that doesnít sit well with someone. Before long the bodies begin to pile up and itís clear that the killer is trying to implicate Cain.

Cain isnít well liked in Whiterock. When he was a young boy, Cainís mother married John Wyatt, who never warmed up to his stepson. After Cainís mother died, John all but ignored him, and Cain responded by acting out and getting into trouble in and out of school. The only one who gave him any affection was Johnís father Marshall. Marshall tried to change Johnís outlook toward Cain, but got nowhere. All of Johnís affection was concentrated on Jason, with a few crumbs left over for his brilliant son Owen. Cain got nothing, and John blamed him for Jasonís death. Johnís attitude has infected most of the civic leaders in Whiterock. They treat Cain as an oddball and, as time passes, a murder suspect.

Cain doesnít really care about his reputation and happily works for the State keeping a wildlife and nature refuge. Never a sociable man, his dogs keep him company. Cain and Sheridan have a past together, and she has always cared for him. Although not quite as much of a hermit as Cain, Sheridan is no social butterfly. She lives for her work and is obsessed with seeing justice done. She is a good match for Cain, both of them independent, yet they need each other.

When it comes to the mystery part of Watch Me, the author kept me guessing until the attacker was revealed. The villain was sociopath and someone so well known in the community that I couldn't help but wonder why no one had seen his predilections before. This, though, is only a minor quibble on my part.

Evidently, the Last Stand is going to be an on-going series. Brenda Novak introduces a new (male) character who is part of the organization and thereís an excerpt from the next book in the series which will be out next August. I will be there to read it. The author's transition from series romance to stand-alone romantic suspense has been smooth and sure and she's now an author on my auto-buy list.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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