Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Brenda Novak -- In Close

Brenda Novak -- In Close

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.20}
Action: ♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠♠
Action: 3.0 / Emotion: 3.0 / Romance: 4.0 / Sensuous: 1.5 / Suspense: 5.0  //  Laughter: 0 / Tears: 0

Setting:     Pineview, Montana
Era:           Present Day [2011]
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Let's get the "quirky" complaints over with.   It may be petty stuff, nevertheless, these quirky little things are annoying.   First, how did the word "bulletproof" come into being as the title for this series?   Having just finished all three books, it still remains a mystery as to how that word ties into any of these stories.   The term tends to make one think of something military instead of these novels.

Second, why in the world did Novak tie the third book of the "trilogy" (In Close) to the first (Inside) and second (In Seconds) books and call it a series?   Sorry, but In Close is just too much of a standalone read to be considered a continuation of the first two books.   Especially since Novak did such a great job of incorporating the primary characters from books one and two into each previous book.   They were definitely tied together.   And to make this a true trilogy, this book should have been Rex McCready's story.   Rex was a minor hero in books one and two and was very closely tied to the hero of book one and heroine of book two.   His story was the next logical book.

In spite of that, In Close, the third book in Brenda Novak's The Bulletproof Trilogy was a really great read.   It was so attention grabbing I was reading this book instead of working.   Novak did a phenomenal job of building the suspense to such levels and creating so much conflict between the characters that it was impossible not to want to keep reading this book to find out what was going to happen next and who the actual killer was.

Brenda Novak is a master storyteller.   She creates characters that are so real, you could swear you've met them before.   She introduces a degree of suspense with the opening setting and from that page on, she slowly begins building the suspense to such a degree of intensity that it is nearly impossible to quit reading -- you just can't wait to see what happens next.

Having very briefly met Claire O'Toole in book two (In Seconds), it was no surprise to learn that she is still obsessed with learning the truth about her mother, who disappeared fifteen years ago.   Rather than participate in the fourth of July celebrations going on in town, Claire heads out to the cabin where her mother used to paint to see if there wasn't some clue that she had missed on all her other visits.   All of Alana O'Toole's belongings had been boxed up and were stored in the studio.

But here's a curious thing.   Even though the studio no longer belonged to the O'Tooles, it still seemed to be their "storage shed."   The studio was relatively close to the house where Claire and her sister, Leanne, had lived with their mother, Alana, and their stepfather, Tug.   Once Alana went missing, Tug married Roni a mere six months later.   (Isn't there some kind of law about having to wait "x" number of years to remarry if your spouse goes missing and is presumed dead?)   Tug sold off their old home place so he could build a mansion for his new wife with Alana's 4½ million dollar inheritance.

Off on another rabbit trail:   What is wrong with this picture?   Why did the bulk of Alana's inheritance go to her husband?   While Alana's two daughters are living a frugal existence because they each received only a $90,000 inheritance from Grandpa and Grandma Pierce, Tug and Roni (not even blood relations) are living high on the hog.   Claire and Leanne are living in an area called "River Dell," which was considered the poor side of town.   (The inner cynic is saying -- there is no way those two daughters do not resent that Tug is living the life of ease and luxury while they struggle in a hand to mouth existence.)   Instead, it is repeatedly stressed how much Tug loves Claire and Leanne and how much that love is reciprocated.   Not an ounce of bitterness in sight!

Claire is surprised to find that now her dead husband's boxed belongings have been moved to her join her mother's boxes.   In one of David's boxes, Claire finds the comprehensive police report on Alana's disappearance including David's handwritten notes regarding inconsistencies.   Unbeknownst to Claire, David had been investigating Alana's disappearance.

While Claire is reading David's notes (by flashlight), Novak introduces a very unique point of view character into the story.   Jeremy Salter is a mentally-challenged giant of a man (Claire's age), who has had a crush on Claire since second grade.   This must have been a very difficult character to develop, but Novak did a great job of expressing the simplicity, yet complexity that was needed for Jeremy's personality.

As Claire was leaving the studio, she was spooked when she saw Jeremy's boots behind the piano and screamed.   Her scream startled Jeremy into knocking her down in his flight out the door, which resulted in Claire's unconsciousness when she hit her head.

Jeremy's entry into the picture provided the catalyst to get Claire within range of Isaac Morgan again.   Isaac, Pineview's bad boy, who now owned the old O'Toole residence, heard Claire's scream and went running through the woods to rescue her.   Claire comes to while Isaac is carrying her back to his home to call Sheriff Myles King (hero of book two) and Dr. John Hunt to check on Claire and tend the wound he inflicted upon himself when he ran into a branch.

Since Novak is quite talented at very neatly interweaving the romance alongside the suspense in her books, she painted a bold, vivid picture of the relationship that had once existed between Isaac and Claire.   For six months, ten years ago, Claire and Isaac spent more time having sex than talking.

she'd had sex with Isaac at least a hundred times.   Maybe more.   Often enough for her to have formed an addiction to his touch that hadn't been easy to break.   Even after so long she avoided him if possible; just the sight of him could send a powerful charge through her.   The memories were that good.   (Claire, page 32)

Claire was hurt, humiliated, and heartbroken when she confessed her love for Isaac and because of his youth and fear of forming attachments, he'd told her that she'd confused sex with love.   From that moment on Claire had gone to extreme lengths to avoid Isaac.

Novak did a great job of detailing the conflict that Claire experienced because she loved two men.   Claire and Pineview's golden boy, David O'Toole, were an item in high school.   When David went away to college, Claire spent time with Isaac.   (No details about how they met or how the sexathon started.)   When Isaac rejected Claire, she got back with David.   Claire and David had been married for four years, but now Claire was drastically losing weight as she mourned the loss of David, who had been killed in a hunting accident thirteen months ago.

Again, this must have been another difficult dynamic for Novak to establish.   How could she make Claire come across as a woman who truly loved her husband, David, while she still had strong, underlying feelings for Isaac that never went away?   At first, it was difficult to image Claire as a wife who truly loved and honored David because she was constantly comparing her very passionate feelings for Isaac to her milder, sweeter feelings for David.   But Claire considered herself a faithful wife because she never acted on the feelings that Isaac roused in her.   But, man-oh-man, the way Claire felt about Isaac is the way every woman wants to feel about her man.   The book is peppered with them:

Maybe sex with David hadn't been as all-consuming, as raw, as it was with Isaac.   Maybe she missed that bone-melting intensity.   (Claire, page 33)

She couldn't deny her desire for him.   (Claire, page 63)

That was because of their history.   She watched him, too.   She could feel his presence before she even saw him.   (Claire, page 85)

The major problem with Claire's character was that Novak never painted a picture of what Claire was like -- her personality -- besides being an abnormally caring, sensitive sister and daughter.   It was obvious Claire went out of her way to keep the peace in her familial relationships.   Even the physical picture Novak painted of Claire was dim.   She was 5'3", had long curly hair and blue eyes.   That's it!   But what was it about her that made Claire so special that four men were in love with her?   The only side of Claire readers got to see was "Claire in crisis" and that was not necessarily a pretty picture.

On the other hand, Novak did an outstanding job of painting a vibrant picture of Isaac.   Who could not help but feel compassion for the five year boy abandoned in a small town by his drug-addicted mother.   And he was raised by "Old Man Tippy" whose only call to fame was that he was obsessed with photography.   The details of Isaac's history made it easy to see why he was afraid of opening himself up to the hurt of being abandoned by someone he loved.

She kept him so off balance.   He was pretty sure that was why he tended to fight what she did to him.   He never liked giving someone the power to hurt him.   (Isaac, page 360)

Isaac's personality was more fleshed out than Claire's.   During the ten years that Isaac had suffered the loss of Claire, he had established himself as a minor celebrity because of his ability to take exceptional photographs and films of wild animals.   He'd traveled the world and had made a name for himself and had even been published in National Geographic.   On top of that, Isaac freely admitted that he'd acted out as a youth, and had earned the unreliable, irresponsible image that was ever present in the minds of Pineview's residents.   On top of that, Isaac wormed his way into your heart by expressing his feelings of unworthiness and self doubt at ever being able to make himself vulnerable to Claire.

As far as he was concerned, he deserved whatever he got when it came to Claire.   She'd offered him her love and he rejected it.   He'd told her he didn't care about her, even though everything she said was exactly what he'd longed to hear.   He'd spoken the truth with his body -- many times -- and would've done so again last night if she hadn't told him he no longer mattered to her.   But he couldn't verbalize his feelings.   It had been too hard for him to believe her love wouldn't waver the minute he began to return it, to count on it.   His past was too much of a hurdle.   (Isaac: page 72)

He didn't know how to give love, or be loved.   (Isaac, page 209)

After Isaac and Claire are initially thrown together and they begin to delve into the mystery of not only Alana's disappearance, but also the possibility that David was murdered because he was trying to unearth the truth, they begin to dance to the tune of, "I want to be with him / her, but I can't let him / her hurt me like she / he did in the past."   For half the book this frustrating pattern of behavior had to be endured.   Claire would give in to her desire and go to Isaac and break his heart by saying, she didn't love him, just wanted his body.   In his hurt, Isaac would then turn Claire away.

While Claire and Isaac are stepping on each others' toes, Claire is alienating her family.   Instead of keeping the peace with her stepfather, Tug, and her stepmother, Roni, Claire is finally expressing her doubts about their innocence with it came to the disappearance of her mother.   The character development of both Tug and Roni was so minimal that it was difficult to get a handle on what their personalities were really like.   Novak was so busy building the suspense by inserting details about both Tug and Roni that lead the readers to believe that they could both be responsible for Alana's murder, that she didn't actually paint a clear picture of what Tug and Roni were actually like.

Another rabbit trail.   Why didn't Novak give readers Tug's full name?   Having read about Claire's stepfather, Darryl "Tug" O'Toole in book two (In Seconds), it was apparent that Tug must have been related to David's family in some way.   For some reason this thread to the story feels totally unraveled.   What was the relationship between these two characters?

When Claire finally alienated her mean, selfish, narcissistic sister, Leanne, it was a moment to stand up and cheer.   How in the world could Claire have put up with Leanne all these years?   Yes, Leanne was bitter because she was wheelchair bound after she injured her back in a sledding accident when she was thirteen, but it wasn't Claire's fault.   Leanne was the spoiled baby of the family even before the accident and she wasn't above playing her 'poor, pitiful me' card to get her way with Claire time and time again.   Claire should have kicked Leanne to the curb years ago instead of always caving in and letting her have her way.   Loved the conclusion Claire finally reached regarding the so easy to hate character of Leanne:

Leanne had to be held accountable for her actions, just like anybody else.   They were doing her no favors by making excuses for her every time she acted out.   (Clair, page 157)

After Claire's life was threatened several times, Leanne, apologized and expressed an intent to change her ways.   But by this time Novak had created such an intensely unlikeable, unredeemable and insincere person, that it was difficult to swallow Leanne's words as honest and sincere.   But Claire loved her sister, so she was all about forgiving Leanne and giving her another chance.

There were several other secondary characters introduced to add length to the list of suspects who may have been responsible for Alana's disappearance.   Again, in her efforts to keep the suspense at an intense level, Novak failed to paint a clear portrait about the personalities of these characters.   For instance it was rumored that Alana was having an extra-marital affair with Joe Kenyon.   When Claire finally cornered Joe to ask him questions, it would have been interesting to know more about the man who caused Alana to break her marriage vows -- what made her fall in love with Joe.   (And if ever there was a daughter who should have understood Alana's ability to love two men, it was Claire!)

Donald "Don" Salter, Jeremy's father appeared as another important secondary character who could be added to the list of suspects.   It was easy to suspect Don simply because of the way Pineview residents and Jeremy thought of him.   Don was so busy filling Jeremy's head with scary details what would happen to him in prison if he didn't keep Don's secrets that it was impossible not to feel sorry for Jeremy to have been saddled with such a father.   Couldn't help but wonder if Jeremy would have been better if his father hadn't berated him so?   The comparison to George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men was a nice touch.

David's buddy and friend, Deputy Rusty Clegg, joined the cast of characters.   Rusty was the fourth man to fall for Claire.   But Claire was not interested in Rusty.   When she went out on a date with Rusty to take her mind off Isaac, she ended up being stranded at the Kicking Horse Saloon.   That was not Rusty's only call to fame.   Rusty (again, no physical description awarded to this character) was that he was hunting with David when he was killed, so he joins the list of suspects as well.

If you are looking for a book full of sensuality, then this is not the book for you.   Novak has spent plenty of time regaling readers with the idea that sex with Isaac is an 'out of this world' experience.   But when she actually lets the event take place, she entertains readers with minimal details, thus failing to produce the sizzle and heat that was to be expected when Isaac and Claire made love.   Novak writes great romantic suspense novels, but they would be so much better if she incorporated more sensuality into the romance side of the story.

As in the two previous books of this series, Novak spent 400 pages building the suspense to incredible heights and then when it comes time for the exciting finale where the hero is supposed to rush in to save the heroine, the story falls flat.   Why does she do this?   Shouldn't such a great story end with an action-packed, hero saves the day finale?   Surely if she can create such an interesting and intense story, she can arrange an appropriate ending to top it off!

There was another hanging thread in the story that needed to be resolved.   Never did understand why Claire's family members were so adamant that Claire give up her search for Alana.   Sure their strong admonitions that Claire quit searching for her mother added greatly to the ongoing suspense of the book, but still, it would have been nice to understand why they were so easily able to dismiss the disappearance of someone that played such a vital role in their lives.   The interpersonal dynamics that drove the interactions between the O'Toole family was as clear as mud.

Novak had no choice but to include Sheriff Myles King as a member of the cast because of his role as the number one law keeper in Pineview, but she totally dropped the ball when it came to giving readers a picture of how Myles and Laurel's 'happily ever after' was progressing.   The "perfect man" that Myles was in his book (In Seconds) disappeared.   Laurel didn't come across as the supportive friend that one might have anticipated . . . having received Claire's full-fledged support in her own book.   Even though Novak included small cameo appearances of Laurel into the story, and Claire even went out on a double date with Myles and Laurel (who set her up with cute accountant, Owen Rodriguez), there were no details presented about how Myles and Laurel (and their kids) were faring.

To recap, all in all, In Close, the third book of Brenda Novak's The Bulletproof Trilogy was a wonderful, enthralling romantic suspense.   It included, {1} Isaac Morgan, a hero who tugged at your heart strings; {2} Claire O'Toole, a heroine who was struggling to come to terms with the loss of her mother and husband, while dealing with the foibles of condemning family members; {3} a fast moving story driven by the chain of events that occur as a result of an investigation into the disappearance of Claire's mother; {4} a slowly building degree of suspense that grows more intense with each turn of the page; {5} an undeniable, passionate attraction between Isaac and Claire; {6} a plethora of deep emotional issues that Isaac and Claire must come to terms with to find a future together; {7} a dearth of sensuality between two amazingly passionate protagonists; {8} minimally developed and described secondary characters; and {8} an anti-climatic ending to a well-told story.   This is a book well worth reading.
--Vonda M. Reid (Saturday, March 16, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.)     [301]

Books In The Series: "The Bulletproof Trilogy"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.07-2011InsideVirgil Skinner; wrongfully incarceratedPeyton Adams; Chief Deputy Warden
1/806-2012Blood In, Blood Out [1]Rex "Pretty Boy" McCready; ex-conLaurel Hodges, Virgil's sister
02.09-2011In SecondsMyles King; Pineview SheriffLaurel Hodges: aka Vivian Stewart; Virgil's sister
03.11-2011In CloseIsaac Morgan; wildlife photogrpaherClaire O'Toole; Pineview hairdresser
[1]   This very short story is found in the anthology Love Is Murder {edited by Sandra Brown}.

Characters Found In "In Close"
Character Description
Isaac Morgan[Hero] filmed wildlife all around the world; often gone (8) tracked and filmed wild animals for a living (24) reckless teen (29) muscular chest (30) smelled like soap, fir trees and wood smoke (31) faced confrontations head-on; had a temper; cynical; remote (32) moody; unpredictable; not the settling down type; same grade as David and Claire; standoffish; walked around with a camera, always on the other side of the lens, filming life but removed from it (33) always in charge (34) always getting hurt (36) searching for his mother; had no stepfather to depend upon; hired private investigators; abandoned at Happy's Inn just before first grade (41) stubborn (42) not the most trust man in town (43) filming wildlife since junior high; nearly lost left arm when tangled with bear 4-y-a; danger went with his job; his footage better than most because he got close to his subjects; documentary on alligators in Florida; did show on Amazon spiders; shot snakes for Disney channel; traveled the world in last ten years; self-taught (44) didn't like needles (45) career took off after documentary on endangered wolves about year after broke up with Claire; slept with Claire for 6 months (51) perfect lips (65) thick black hair (66) often kicked out of school; dropped out before graduation; thrown out of bar for fighting; chased off with shotgun for daring to date certain girl; stole car on a dare, spent time in juvie; residents found him unsafe and unreliable, refused to embrace him into community (71) early riser; more energy than knew what to do with (72) began to really act out when Tippy died, angry, self-destructive; the more others tried to control him, the harder he fought; 21 when with Claire (73) only accepted jobs that excited him; edited own footage; created pilots and trailers; different agent for photographs (92) golden brown irises in his eyes; long, tanned, magical fingers; dark eyebrows (98) enigmatic; local celebrity (138) could seem arrogant, a product of being so appealing; good looks, talent, keen mind intimidated people, so looked for flaws (140) amber-flecked eyes; artist's mouth; his hair one of his best features, wore long, had natural curl to give it body (175) could be as kind, sexy, gentle and funny as he could be fierce and indifferent (188)
Claire O'Toole[Heroine] (7) relationship with Isaac 10-y-a (8) old Camero (9) obsessed about finding justice for Alana; ran her hair salon business out of her house (10) just shy of 5'3" (13) went to high school with David; an item for 2 years before David went to college (17) beautiful; smart; nice; everything a woman should be (18) alarming loss of weight (29) long curly hair (31) didn't go to college because Leanne going through series of operations (42) helped pay for Leanne's breast implants (55) blue eyes (56) always had to compromise, give, tolerate, cajole when came to Leanne (78) lived at end of rutted dirt road in poor side of town; bought house with inheritance from grandparents (80)
. . .. . .
Ted Abrams[No Appearance] James Short's business partner; blamed James for failing business; wanted James's insurance (358)
Nadine Archer[No Appearance] dispatcher (60)
Ashley[No Appearance] Liz's daughter; taking ballet lessons (162)
Clyde Bigelow[No Appearance] Roger's son (199)
Grandma Bigelow[No Appearance] gave piano lessons; owned house April rented for 60 years (199)
Roger Bigelow[No Appearance] rented house to April; owned big cattle ranch outside town (199)
Blake[No Appearance] Don's cousin; in Wyoming; got in lot of trouble; been in prison (168)
Patty Chicawa[No Appearance] Joe was to have been stacking firewood in her back yard during the time Alana went missing (104)
Chris[No Appearance] Aunt Jodi's son; Claire's cousin; drowned while surfing off the coast of Maui (149)
Rusty Clegg[Secondary Character] attracted to Claire // deputy for past 6-7 years; David's hunting buddy (20) sheriff's deputy; liked the power he wielded a little too much; run-ins with Isaac at Saloon (74) not much of a deputy (127)
April Cox[One Appearance] youngest of Roni's stepchildren from previous marriage; worked at Merkley's Mercantile (195) signs of cost cutting in April's home; rented from Roger Bigelow (199)
Scott Cox[No Appearance] April's husband; worked for fire department (208)
Jared Davis[Rare Appearances] one of Myles' best investigators; from L.A.; went to talk to Les (363) Lincoln County Investigator (380)
Ellie[No Appearance] one of 8 women in Claire's book group (225) saw Claire's car at April's house (227)
Leland Faust[No Appearance] owned big farm near Big Fork since married Bella (73)
Katie Fishman[No Appearance] Leanne's best friend; lived next door to Joe; as difficult to tolerate as Leanne; family moved during Leanne's junior year (10)
Wanda Fitzgerald[One Appearance] Claire's last client for the day; sat under hair dryer (158)
Jason Freeman[No Appearance] saw Alana the day she disappeared (21)
Johnny Goodman[One Appearance] 12-y-o; practicing skateboard techniques (196)
Walt Goodman[No Appearance] Tug's boss 15-y-a (88) owned gun store (149)
Copper Grady[No Appearance] April's father hanged himself in Copper Grady's old barn (201)
Claudia Hampton[No Appearance] rich older woman; Isaac rumored to have affair with; husband CEO of Fortune 500 company, stayed in Houston while Claudia in Pineview (141)
Hank[No Appearance] Jeremy's boss at burger stand; gave Jeremy an old Impala (114)
Mrs. Hattie[No Appearance] Salter's nearest neighbor; 81-y-o; Jeremy helped her plant garden every spring; almost deaf (378)
John Hunt[One Appearance] only doctor in the area; lived near Isaac: worked in the emergency room in Libby (37) 20 years older than Claire, Isaac (41)
Lila Hunt[No Appearance] John's wife; attended Claire's Thursday night book group (39)
Nancy Jernigan[No Appearance] P.I. Isaac hired (358)
Aunt Jodi[No Appearance] (149) Alana's sister; only sibling; lived in Portland, Oregon (20)
Chantelle Kenyon[No Appearance] Joe and Lilly's oldest (296)
Joe Kenyon[Rare Appearances / Secondary Character] rumors rampant that he was Alana's lover; would not talk to David (21) 17-18 older than Leanne (87) a good man (89) hard man to read; wife's mother ill for years, spent lot of time in Idaho (105) Claire always a little afraid of; laconic; hard to know (108) friends with Tug; does tree work on all Tug's properties (159) partner with brother in tree business; brothers "thick as thieves" (291)
Lilly Kenyon[No Appearance] Joe's wife (291)
Peter [Kenyon][One Appearance] Joe's twin brother (22) partner with brother in tree business; brothers "thick as thieves" (291) divorced (292)
Kitbohn[No Appearance] leader of pack of dogs Isaac became close to last winter when did Alaskan sled dog series (93)
Laurel King[Rare Appearances] [Heroine of Book 2] Myles' wife; Claire's best friend (43) beautiful (59)
Sheriff Myles King[Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 2] thorough (43) habit: rested his hands on his utility belt (46) 3 children, his and hers (59) good sheriff (127) first wife had protracted battle with cancer; raising daughter on own; adjusted to being single (131)
Liz[No Appearance] Roni's stepdaughter by previous marriage; lived in Kalispell; Roni visited occasionally
Lucchese Family[No Appearance] one of the most powerful organized crime syndicates in New York (405)
Sheriff Meade[No Appearance] sheriff when Alana disappearance; King's predecessor (22)
Michael[No Appearance] worked for National Geographic; bought lots of Isaac's photos (93)
Mille[One Appearance] 16-y-o; worked at Hank's; called Jeremy dummy (341)
Larry Morrill[No Appearance] Claire's client; trim (43)
Pete Newton[No Appearance] Jason had been sitting in his truck the day he saw Alana (21)
Carrie Oldman[One Appearance] one of 8 women in Claire's book group (225) Claire cutting long straight hair into a short bob (226) sweet way about her; expert at wheedling out information (227) ultra conservative husband (228)
Carly Ortega[One Appearance] lived across street from Joe; ill more often than not, probably psychosomatic; rarely left her house; probably bored (292) gossipmonger (293)
Alana O'Toole[No Appearance / Important Character] Claire's mother; went missing 15-y-a with no trace (9) a loving mother; never would have abandoned her children (10) went missing in the dead of winter (12) received inheritance when her parents died in plane crash only a year before her disappearance (13) born and raised in California; parents retired, moved to Pineview her senior year (146) split 4½ million dollars with sister (149) clerked part time at Stop 'n Shop (149)
Darryl "Tug" O'Toole[Major Secondary Character] {Got full name from In Seconds} Claire's stepfather; a good man (9) moved in with new wife 6 months after Alana's disappearance (10) entered Claire's, Leanne's life when Leanne was 1-y-o (23) Leanne, Claire called him dad (56) might be sterile (148) worked for Walt 20 years (149) obsessive about his appearance (157) 3 years younger than Alana; 56-y-o; lines around eyes and mouth more pronounced (157) 41-y-o when married Roni (160) took whatever Roni said with patient, loving smile (163) became more powerful after wealth (201) being attractive to opposite sex always important to him; dressed younger than his age (204)
David O'Toole[No Appearance / Important Character] Claire's husband; died 1-y-a in hunting accident (9) went to high school with Claire; an item for 2 years before he went to college (17) dead 13 months; sold insurance; smelled like cologne, occasional cigar, briefcase (31) split up for 2 years; he went to Boise State (32) sweet and gentle (66) generous; kind; consistent; transparent (67) Pineview's golden boy; no rough edges; no unsavory past; practically canonized since death (71) graduated with honors; more friends and family than knew what to do with; everyone liked him (73) steady; reliable (122)
Leanne [O'Toole ?][Major Secondary Character] Claire's sister; broke back sledding 13-y-o; confined to a wheelchair (9) did not like to be reminded of Alana (14) a daddy's girl (23) 13-y-o when Alana disappeared (26) never happy (54) wearing sexy lingerie; tattoo of mermaid on right breast; total lack of modesty; struggled to feel attractive despite her handicap; had breast implants; changed drastically after the surgery; passing herself around to every guy who showed an interest (55) "Lee" (56) blue eyes a shade lighter than Claire's (56) used her crippled status as weapon against Claire (58) new double Ds (59) always difficult to deal with, even before the accident; made life difficult for herself and everyone else; drinking too much ( 62) negligent; used to be coddled as the baby of family, got worse after accident (78) worked out of her house; made stained-glass windows and laps; sold online and by referral; not big on taking responsibility for her actions (80) could be so dark (107)
Roni [O'Toole][Rare Appearances / Important Secondary Character] Claire's stepmother (13) acted as if Alana had never existed (14) Leanne, Claire called her mom (56) 37-y-o when married Tug; raised 4 children for ex-husband, 3 who treated her badly; accused to being too controlling, too strict (160) Claire respected her for being consistent, responsible; perfunctory (162) authoritative; opinionated; upsetting her was never a pleasant experience (163) could be sweet and surprisingly generous (201) played head games with April's father; jealous of Alana for years (202) worked at gun shop with Tug (203)
Rosemary O'Toole[One Appearance] David's mother; large family; crowded house (15) wagging chins (367)
Hayley Peters[No Appearance] called Isaac from Kicking Horse Saloon when drank enough to lower her inhibitions (126) beautiful woman; worked at clothes boutique; huge crush on Isaac (283)
Grandma Pierce[No Appearance] Alana's mother (148)
Grandpa Pierce[No Appearance] Alana's father (148)
Bailey Rawlings[No Appearance] Isaac's mother; wasn't bad-looking; might have been pretty except for the drugs (221) died years before of accidental overdose; living on the streets; selling her body to survive (222)
Reva[One Appearance] Hank's wife; did the books (341)
Rod Reynolds[No Appearance] bought Claire's parents' cabin (41)
Alexis Rodgers[No Appearance] Claire's client; highlight (43) {Note: spelled with no "d" in In Seconds}
Owen Rodriguez[One Appearance] tax accountant (192) nice; handsome (190) Claire's blind date for Saturday Night (193) from Libby (220) café au lait skin; close-cropped dark hair; dark, intelligent eyes; broad, friendly smile; stylish glasses (240)
Joyce Sallow[No Appearance] Claire's client; cut and color (42)
Donald "Don" Salter[Secondary Character] Jeremy's father; liked to ramble around and watch tv most of the night; on disability (48) found Les through Blake (168) never win a parenting award; managed Walt's gun shop after Tug quit; lost job after accused of stealing (275) Donald (293)
Jeremy Salter[Major Secondary Character] saw himself as next Rambo (18) had a serious crush on Claire; different (19) giant (48) good with numbers, they calmed him; could remember any number anyone ever told him (49) in special ed (114) worked for Hank 15 years (246) teased; shunned; mistreated (275) freakishly strong (395)
Herb Scarborough[One Appearance] managed Mountain Bank and Trust; reported Don's furtive actions to Myles (364)
Les Short[No Appearance] supposedly shot himself in Les's office; life insurance policy (358)
Shannon Short[No Appearance] wife of victim; didn't believe husband shot himself; her parents were going to loan them money (358)
Selina Spangler[One Appearance] Claire's next customer (233)
Pat Stueben[No Appearance] town Realtor; murdered in Pineview {In Seconds} (23)
Old Man Tippy[No Appearance] Tippy: man who raised Isaac (44) volunteered to take in 5-y-o Isaac (72) kind; put roof over Isaac's head; taught him about photography, which he'd spent a lifetime studying; died when Isaac 16; lived in shack on Crystal Lake (73)
Bella Wagoner[No Appearance] married Leland (73)
Les Weaver[Secondary Character] hunter who shot David (129) from Coeur d'Alene (136) lived in rambling Mediterranean-style home located in an exclusive community; wore tailored suit; no ruddy countenance nor work-roughened hands usual on seasoned outsdoorsmen; lean; angular; dark hair gelled off his face; 40s; sophisticated (152) bankruptcy attorney (155) Les S. Weaver, Attorney at Law (156) a person who could "take care of anything" (168) hired killer (245) connected to New York mafia family; suspected of racketeering (319) ties to Lucchese family (405)
Welches[No Appearance] bought the Fishman's house; let the place go (296)

Locations, Organizations, Terms Found In "In Close"
Location / Organization Description
Pineview, MontanaSetting for the book; 1,500 residents (8) no cell service (75)
time stamplast summer had first murder (130) {last summer = In Seconds} {this story took place 9 months later}
. . . . . .
Big ForkLeland Faust owned big farm near Big Fork since married Bella (73)
Big Sky Diner(198)
Cabinet Mountainssouthwest of Libby, in Chain of Lakes area; where David and Claire went on their honeymoon (50)
Coeur d'Alenewhere Les Weaver lived (136)
Crystal LakeTippy raised Isaac in shack on Crystal Lake (73)
Hank's Burger Jointwhere Jeremy worked (270)
Harry Dog's Steakhouselocation of date with Owen (240)
Kalispell, Montana(12) had cell phone service (75)
Kicking Horse SaloonPineview bar (71)
Libby, Montana(12) closest town to Pineview; 30 miles away
Marion, Montana(12) twenty minute drive from Pineview (104)
Merkley's Mercantilewhere April worked (195)
Mountain Bank and Trust(364)
Portland, Oregonlocation where Alana's sister lived (20)
Petroglyphs Campgroundlocation of Don't furtive actions (364)
River Dellwhere Claire and Leanne lived; considered the poor side of town (80)
Seritella'sItalian restaurant where Rusty and Claire went (107)
Stuart's Stop 'n Shopdead end job Claire worked while seeing Isaac (42)
Trudie's Groceryon outskirts of Pineview (359)

"In Close" Quotations
29He understood what she'd been through, why she couldn't let go, and felt she deserved privacy to deal with her demons.   //   Lord knew he preferred privacy to deal with his.   (Isaac)
51He hated that memory.   Sometimes he hated Claire, too, for having such a strong hold on him despite his efforts to escape it.   (Isaac)
73He'd been alone every since Tippy's death and that was how he felt the safest.   If he was alone he didn't have to worry about being left.   (Isaac)
85"He can't keep his eyes off you."   (Tug)
122She had no clue what she did to him, but he wasn't about to let on.   (Isaac)
122There were still times he felt he had to head out into the wilderness, to be alone for extended periods.   (Isaac)
141"It's a defense mechanism.   If everyone thinks the worst of him he has no expectations to meet and no disappointment to face."   (Claire)
145Human beings were complex, often reacting differently depending upon circumstances.   (Claire)
167It was easier to tolerate the minor irritations that cropped up than to deal with the aftermath of an argument.   (Claire)
201"You didn't come here for the truth, either.   Your mind's already made up, so why do you want to talk to me?"   (April)
288Love made him vulnerable, and vulnerability made him want to run.   (Isaac)
360She'd stopped trying to hide her feelings, and he liked that, needed it.   (Isaac)

"Brenda Novak -- In Close" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
---- Brenda Novak's WebsiteAuthor
---- Brenda Novak's FacebookAuthor
---- Brenda Novak's TwitterAuthor
. . . . . . . . . . . .
4.00 / B03-21-2012All About Romance--Lynn Spencer // okay / short post on Good Reads
4.20 average{33 reviews}Amazonas of: March 20, 2013
B10-02-2011Badass Book Reviews--Erika // totally agree!! // also on: Good Reads
3.89 average{35 reviews}Barnes & Nobleas of: March 20, 2013
4.50 / 11-16-2011Book Bliss--Louise / not much detail
5.0010-23-2011Criminal Elementnot a review / different take on book / "about family" / shorter GR
----Fact FictList of Books In "The Bulletproof Series"
----Fantastic FictionList of Brenda Novak's Books
----Fiction DBList of Brenda Novak's Books
positive09-30-2011Fresh Fiction--Sandra Wurman / PR blurb
3.95 average{63 reviews}Good Readsas of: March 20, 2013
5.0001-07-2012Joyfully Reviewed--M. Nix // also on: Amazon
3.36 average{7 ratings}Library Thingas of: March 20, 2013
5.0011-13-2011Mason Canyon{pr} also on: Amazon, Good Reads
3.90 average{34 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: March 20, 2013
--10-30-2011Romance Bandits--Jo Robertson / Brenda Novak Interview / about Self-Publishing
4.50 / hot11-....-2011RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviews--Debbie Haupt / PR blurb
4.00 average{2 reviews}Shelfarias of: March 20, 2013
--06-25-2012Teena in Toronto--Teena / felt like a PR blurb, not a review
C10-27-2011The Book Pushers--MinnChica / some valid points
2.0001-25-2012The Book Vixen--Briana // okay / also on: Good Reads
3.0011-25-2011The Bookaholic Cat--Marcela // excellent; totally agree / also on: Good Reads
of interest08-30-2010The Long and Short of ItMonday Spotlight: Brenda Novak Interview // Five Most Asked Questions
of interest08-31-2010The Long and Short of ItTuesday Spotlight: Brenda Novak Interview // Writer's Block
of interest09-01-2010The Long and Short of ItWednesday Spotlight: Brenda Novak Interview // Do You Write From Experience
of interest09-02-2010The Long and Short of ItThursday Spotlight: Brenda Novak Interview // How Got Published
of interest09-03-2010The Long and Short of ItFriday Spotlight: Brenda Novak Interview // Your Favorite BN Book
4.50 / steamy10-26-2011The Romanceaholic--Jess / another excellent review / also on: Good Reads
4.50 / top pick....-....-2011The Season For Romance--Katrina Latham / okay
--10-25-2011USA TodayJoyce Lamb interviews Brenda Novak / great questions
positive10-28-2011USA Today--Kathy Altman / lots of excellent story line data
4.2003-20-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Got This Book in a Harlequin Promotion
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your In Close review link to table, just ask

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