BRENDA NOVAK: What I’m Reading

Kiss and Thrill welcomes New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Brenda Novak!

Brenda Novak is one of my all-time favorite romantic suspense authors. Her books grab you by the throat from page one. Her stories consistently deliver a suspenseful, riveting thrill ride with an extremely emotional love story. Her characters are so genuine, you’ll think about them long after you put the book down.

I wanted to spotlight one of her books as my favorite, but I love them ALL! So, without further delay, I present Brenda Novak.

What I’m reading…

I gained my enthusiasm for reading when I was in the fourth grade and discovered an entire row of classics in the Liberty School library. Previous to this point, I hadn’t liked reading at all. Maybe it was that boring Dick, Jane and Spot stuff, because THE SECRET GARDEN, OLIVER TWIST, REBECCA, JANE EYRE and GONE WITH THE WIND showed me the real possibilities. Knowing my mother would set me to some task if she saw me, I used to hide from her so that I could read one glorious story after another without being disturbed. I’ll never forget how disappointed I was when I finished everything on the classics shelf and started on the next shelf down only to discover that not all books are created equal.

In junior high, I began reading John Jakes and his fabulous revolutionary war series (and then I went on to NORTH AND SOUTH). In high school, I discovered romance and devoured everything by Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jane Austen and Jude Devereaux. I also found my first Sidney Sheldon novel when I was a sophomore, which served as my initiation to mystery and suspense.

Today, I’m an eclectic reader. I love true crime (Ann Rule), straight historicals (Philippa Gregory, Brenda Rickman Vantrease), legal thrillers (John Lescroart, John Grisham), romance (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Mallery, Jayne Ann Krentz, Jennifer Crusie), mystery (Janet Evanovich, Elizabeth Peters), popular fiction (Elizabeth Gilbert and Jodi Piccoult) and romantic suspense (Karen Rose, Roxanne St. Claire, Allison Brennan, Linda Howard, Sharon Sala and more). The only thing I don’t read is science fiction/fantasy. My reading “diet” is so varied that it’s difficult to restrict a list of favorites to any one genre, but here are a few books I’m either reading or have read recently:

1. KILL FOR ME by M. William Phelps. This is a true crime book I picked up at Bouchercon last year and am only now getting to. It’s about a man who had someone murder a woman about to testify against him in a rape case. I have yet to find out who actually committed the deed, but I’m hoping the guilty party pays for their crime. I always find it fascinating to read about how criminal cases really go. It certainly isn’t like the movies. It’s actually a bit depressing. The criminal has everything stacked in his favor. Very sad/difficult for the victim.

2. FALL FROM PRIDE by Karen Harper. I’ve been hearing that Amish romances are the new hot thing so I wanted to try one. After reading CHILL FACTOR by Sandra Brown (excellent plotting and interesting characters and situations) and KILL FOR ME (the true crime book above), this story is VERY tame, but it’s supposed to be.

3. A WALK ACROSS THE SUN by Corban Addison. This book is by a debut author, an attorney down south. It was recommended to me by my agent, and I really enjoyed it. It deals with the international sex trade as seen through the eyes of two orphaned sisters.

4. ADRENALIN by Jeff Abbott. Abbot has a lean writing style, engaging characters and a very quick pace. I’m only one-third in but definitely plan to finish.

5. THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE. Just started a mini-book club with a friend who wanted to bone up on thrillers. He suggested this book be first up, since we both owned it. Again, I’ve just begun, but I’ve been promised that I will love the story. Can’t wait to see for myself….

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has a brand new small-town contemporary series starting in 2012. Come meet the long-time friends who have made Whiskey Creek the “Heart of Gold Country,” with WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, to be released in September. Also, don’t miss her latest romantic suspense trilogy available now–INSIDE, IN SECONDS, & IN CLOSE. Brenda is a three-time Rita nominee. Her books have won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Holt Medallion and many others. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at To date, she’s raised over $1.3 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life. 

Available Now!

Available Now!

Do any of you have questions, comments or want to share your favorite Brenda Novak novel with the rest of us? 

***All commenters with a U.S. mailing address are eligible for the Thurday, 12/8 drawing!  Brenda is giving away one copy of each of the following: The Perfect Couple, The Perfect Liar, and The Perfect Murder.  Check back to see if you’re the winner!

Posted on December 6, 2011, in Author Interview, book recommendations, Thursday Winner, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. The first time I read Jane Eyre was spring break, freshman year of college. Jane Eyre was an assignment in my English Lit class.

    Day one of break, I sat down in my favorite chair and started to read. For two days, I devoured each word, envisioning Jane’s world and Mr. Rochester in my mind.

    And my love-affair with romance novels was born.

    • Mary, you get it! You totally get it! LOL That’s exactly what happened to me. I did the same thing with JANE EYRE. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE affected me the same way. Devoured is a great word to describe it!

  2. Thanks for joining us and sharing your reading list today, Brenda!

    I just finished WHITE HEAT and I couldn’t put it down. It was especially fun to read because I spent half my childhood in my parents’ hometown of Tucson, and we used to camp in the Chiricahua Mountains, so I could picture the scenery vividly.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Brenda! I love your reading list and have just added a few to my Christmas list. I loved Jane Eyre because it had such a tremendous affect on me as a pre-teen girl, but Wuthering Heights is what made me want to become a woman. Of all the books I’ve ever read, not one has ever affected me the way that one did.
    Oh, and my other influential author when I was a teen was Mary Stewart. I LOVED her.

    • Sharon, I love Mary Stewart. I devoured her books as a teen too.

      • I’ve been trying to buy used copies for my daughter, but the older ones are hard to find. I also loved Phyllis Whitney. Did you read her as well?

        • Yes, loved Phyllis. I’ve been hanging on to some old copies of Kathleen Woodiwiss for my children. I have my personal favorite, COME LOVE A STRANGER and THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER. I want to find one that was titled something like THE WOLF AND THE DOVE.

    • Somehow I missed Mary. I’ll have to look her up. Did you ever read FOREVER AMBER? I thought that was such a great character study. Fabulously written (although quite scandalous for the time).

      • I loved that book as well. And I’m pretty sure I still have a beat up copy on one of my bookshelves. I also read every gothic romance I could find–like Victoria Holt and Jill Tattersall.

        • I love gothic romance! I’m actually writing one (if I ever finish it). It’s called THROUGH THE SMOKE and is something I started before I got published. Someday I’ll finish it and get it up on Amazon, like I recently did with THE BASTARD.

          • I would love it if you re-ignited the gothic romance genre. That’s always been my favorite. Of course I love colonial historical romances like Celia Garth as well and we all know how well those sell. I guess I’ll just have to write them myself.

            • We could always use more of those, Sharon. Did you ever read John Jakes? He did some great revolutionary war books–a series that started with THE BASTARD. That’s actually where I got the idea for the title my latest historical. He also wrote North & South, which you probably saw on TV (it was a mini-series). Fabulous!

              • I loved all of those and read John Jakes despite the fact my mother thought it was soft-core porn. I read them at school where no one cared and she couldn’t see. I also loved North and South because my husband is from Charleston and we had a chance to see them filming the mini-series. Then there was Hawkeye (Daniel Day Lewis) in Last of the Mohicans. Not technically a romance, but who cares.

  4. Lovely interview. Now, I’m off to shop the book store. Shh …

  5. Nice interview! I am new to your books, but I’ve heard many wonderful things and have quite a few of your books on my wish lists! Thank you for the chance to win, not just a book, but a trilogy!

  6. I just LOVE all of Brenda Novak’s books and her books are the ONLY ones I read! I work as a nurse and I am a mother of 3 kids…5,6, and 7 and I was able to read one of her books in 4 days! I took her book to work and instead of eating on my break, I couldn’t put her book down!

    • Thanks for posting, Michelle. Your note cracked me up. So glad to hear it. I have five kids, as you probably know, so I get how crazy it can be when they’re young. I can hardly believe my baby just turned fifteen? Where do the years go?

  7. Brenda, Thanks so much for being here today! Your post resonated with me. I remember reading the entire biography shelf at my school library and then looking for more. I think reading allowed me to have so many amazing role models!

    And I also want to say that the work you do for Diabetes research has personally inspired me to get off my butt and raise money for a cause dear to me. You do a world of good! Thank you for all the lives you’ve touched!

    • Thanks, Carey! I’m glad I found that classics shelf. I think the early reading I did really helped shape my imagination.

      Thanks, too, for your kind words about my fundraising efforts. I couldn’t do it without all the fabulous people who support the auction every year. And diabetes touches so many lives. I can’t wait until we have a cure! Good luck with your own efforts. What’s your cause?

      • I lost my mom, and other family and friends have been affected by breast cancer. I’d love to see breast cancer wiped off the planet. I do Race for the Cure every year, but seeing what you do made me realize I can do more. My CPs and I just signed up for the Susan G Komen 3day. So we have a lot of training and fund raising to do- we hope to raise $10,000 among the four of us. I bet we come up with a lot of great plots during that 60 mile walk.

        • The Susan G. Komen Foundation has done an amazing job in raising awareness and dollars. I don’t think any charity has done it better. I often tell people that I wish the diabetes charities could do as well. Good luck with that 60 mile walk. I’m sure you’ll get lots of great things out of it!

  8. Thanks for joining us, Brenda! Like you, I read Woodiwiss and Devereaux in high school (along with McBain, Lindsey, Busbee…). Loved them all. But I am most delighted to see Elizabeth Peters on your list because she influenced me the most–it’s her fault I became an archaeologist. 🙂

  9. I just LOVE all of Brenda Novak’s books and her books are the ONLY ones I read! I work as a nurse and I am a mother of 3 kids…5,6, and 7 and I was able to read one of her books, WATCH ME, in 4 days! I took her book to work and instead of eating on my break, I couldn’t put her book down!

  10. Hi Brenda! Just wanted to say hi! Like you, I read quite a bit–and you’ve listed some of my own favorites.

    Question for you: Who was your favorite character in THE SECRET GARDEN? I read that so many times as a kid. (I think I just wanted a secret garden myself!)

    • Hi Courtney! Thanks for posting. I follow everything you write on all the loops. I’m sort of your silent stalker. 😉

      On THE SECRET GARDEN…. It’s been so many years since I read it (I read it when I was ten) that I couldn’t at first remember the character’s names, except the crippled boy, Colin. I mostly remember it by the magic I felt. So I just read the summary on Wikipedia to bring it back and had to smile at the beauty of it all over again. I’m not sure I could pick a favorite character. I loved each one for different reasons. The change and rebirth that comes to Mary was gratifying to watch, but Colin had his own rebirth and that was just as exciting. Still, as a child I think I was most fond of Dicken. He was so good-natured and sweet.

      Who was your favorite character (or since this is a British novel maybe I should spell it favourite? )?

  11. mandacollinsauthor

    Yay! Welcome Brenda! I just recently finished your Bulletproof trilogy and loved how you turned the small town theme on it’s head. I also thought you handled the whole wrongful conviction angle in a really thoughtful way. Did you actually visit a prison to get background for INSIDE?

    As far as school libraries go, my high school one had slim pickings when it came to fiction, but I quickly found and devoured all the Victoria Holts they had. And my grandmother was (and still is) a huge mystery reader, so it’s not any wonder I grew up to write historical romantic suspense.

    • Thanks, Manda! So glad you liked the Bulletproof trilogy. I visited the Chain of Lakes area, which is why I wanted to set some books there. Have you ever been? It’s absolutely stunning.

      I did visit a prison. I toured Soledad–and it was fascinating. I wanted to get inside Pelican Bay, which is actually in the story, but I didn’t have a contact there. Still, Soledad was enough. I’m fascinated by prison culture and how people survive there on both sides of the cells.

      So you knew you wanted to be a writer way back when?

      • mandacollinsauthor

        Nope, haven’t been to Chain of Lakes, but you made it sound gorgeous.

        Prison culture is fascinating. And terrifying. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to go to prison for something you didn’t do. I didn’t blame Simeon a bit for joining the gang. Because really, how would he have survived otherwise? I hadn’t realized that Pelican Bay was a real place.

        I actually didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. I fought it for a long time. Mostly because I loved reading more than making up my own stories:) But now I do both!

        • Manda, Pelican Bay is one of the most notorious prisons in California. There have been so many accusations of abuse. Much of what I put in INSIDE is true. Crescent City is real, too. Very beautiful, but hard to reach.

          I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer, either. Funny how life leads you where you should go. Good luck with it!

  12. I love Brenda’s books!! She always has the ability to hook me from the first pages and drag me through one amazing story after another! I love her Last Stand series!! I can’t wait for more from her!!

  13. Hi Brenda. Just stopping in to say HI and I love your reading list.
    Great Blog, Carey and all!!!!

  14. Hi Brenda! Thanks so much for blogging with us!

    I, too, loved Jane Eyre — so much in fact, that I chose French for my language requirement in high school just so I could figure out what was being said! LOL.

    So many great reading suggestions — just in time for Christmas, too. Please come again.


    • Thanks for your comments, Diana. I think what captured my imagination was the sad situation of the protagonists and how they conquered all by the end. It’s magical, isn’t it?

      I also took French for my second language. I’d love to become fluent, but for me that would probably take moving there. LOL

  15. Hi Brenda, welcome to our Romantic Suspense Group! I’m a HUGE fan of your writing and your JD Auction. Can you tell our readers a little about that (how many years you’ve held it, when the deadline is to bid, your link, etc.)

    Also, what is the largest bid you ever received and for what?

    • Hi Sarah!

      Thanks so much for supporting my work. I appreciate it.

      The diabetes auction is an amazing thing–so many people coming together to do a good thing. I’ve been touched by the number of writers who have gotten involved. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research runs every year from May 1 – May 31. There’s a link right on the front page of my web site where you can register so that you’ll get the notices ( We have over 2,000 fabulous items, many of which you can’t find anywhere else. Last year, we added $300,000 to our total, so we now stand at $1.3 million over all. I’ve been doing the auction for seven years–2012 will be number eight. I’m hoping to make it a decade. My youngest son has this disease, and it’s a monster I’d dearly love to slay. Just bidding helps to do that. So register and buy your gifts this year from the auction, where your money will also be going to help the millions who suffer from diabetes.

      The largest bid I’ve ever received was close to $10,000 for a year-long mentoring package with me. Every year we try to change things up and do something new and exciting. This year, we’re adding week-long auctions, so for those who are too impatient to go all month…there will be one-day auctions AND one-week auctions. We’re talking about some other changes, too, so register and stay tuned!

  16. Brenda, I’m loving all of these questions and answers. So much interesting stuff here. Thanks again for being on our blog today. Funny thing – while reading your comments about The Secret Garden – it dawned on me I named a character in my WIP Colin – and he’s in a wheelchair. My subconscious in action! Note to self to change his name! I loved Colin in TSG. I’d have to say he’s my favorite character in that book because of how he changes and grows. I love that you are a Woodiwiss fan. I grew up on A Rose in Winter, Shanna, and my all-time have historical – Ashes in the Wind. Epic love story.

    • It’s a pleasure, Lena. Thank you so much for inviting me. The subconscious is a funny thing, isn’t it? It absorbs so much.

      Totally agree about Woodiwiss–although I have to say that I was SO disappointed by the latest two or three. That could NOT have been her writing those books.

      • I totally agree! I didn’t like her last two – never even finished the last one. But even to this day, even with the way romance novels have changed and how ‘spare’ we write now, I can still read one of her earlier ones and become completely absorbed in the story. I could probably name every hero and heroine she wrote in those earlier books. Those characters are real! I refuse to believe they are not.

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