Book Review: Hanover House (Hanover Chronicles #0.5)

25394138Title: Hanover House (Hanover Chronicles #0.5)

Author: Brenda Novak

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Thriller

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Prequel novella to my new Hanover House Chronicles (digital only).
Welcome to Hanover House….
Psychiatrist Evelyn Talbot has dedicated her life to solving the mysteries of the psychopathic mind. Why do psychopaths act as they do? How do they come to be? Why don’t they feel any remorse for the suffering they cause? And are there better ways of spotting and stopping them?
After having been kidnapped, tortured and left for dead when she was just a teenager—by her high school boyfriend—she’s determined to understand how someone she trusted so much could turn on her. So she’s established a revolutionary new medical health center in the remote town of Hilltop, Alaska, where she studies the worst of the worst.
But not everyone in Hilltop is excited to have Hanover House and its many serial killers in the area. Alaskan State Trooper, Sergeant Amarok, is one of them. And yet he can’t help feeling bad about what Evelyn has been through. He’s even attracted to her. Which is partly why he worries.
He knows what could happen if only one little thing goes wrong…
From Sweet Dreams Boxed Set

For what’s supposed to be a novella prequel, Hanover House is quite a long read. It’s roughly 200 pages, and I felt more like I was reading a full-length novel (and let’s face it, most 200-page books are considered full-length novels, I’d say) rather than a novella. For a book that serves as an introduction to  series, it also read more like it was an actual book all on its own. It had a plot, engaging characters, and it told a whole story. So why this is a prequel novella and not just book one of the series, I have no idea.

Anway, on to the plot. Evelyn Talbot, Dr. Talbot as most people know her, is a renowned psychiatrist who works with the criminally insane, in particular psychopaths. She’s quite obsessed with her test subjects. Even when she gets injured by one, it only makes her more determined to figure out what drives them. This obsession started when she was sixteen years old, and when her best friends got murdered by a psychopath posing as her boyfriend. Jasper. A boy she trusted and loved, and who ended up locking her in a shed for days, torturing her and eventually tried to kill her. While Evelyn escaped alive, so did Jasper, and he’s still on the run. Evelyn hasn’t felt safe ever since.

She’s determined to open up a facility in Alaska, where she’ll put a bunch of psychopaths together and research them. The local community, especially Sergeant Amarok, the police trooper in town, aren’t too keen on her building the facility. But when she tries to convince the locals and ends up in a bar with aforementioned Sgt. Amarok, she discovers feelings within herself that she never thought she could feel, not after what Jasper did to her.

Let’s start with the good. The plot isn’t too bad. It’s what convinced me to read the book in the first place, and the idea of a facility solely occupied by psychopaths, and a woman so scarred by her past she’s devorted her life to discover more about psychopaths? That sounds amazing, if you ask me. The author obviously did some research into the mind of psychopaths too, and that shows while reading. The writing is all right.

But the characters. At first, I rather liked Evelyn. She showed tenacity. Drive. Her past had scarred her, but she hadn’t given up. But then, the moment Amarok walked in, everything went wrong. Now Amarok isn’t a bad guy as such (and he’s a real champ when compared to most of the other guys portrayed in the book). On his own, he’s not bad. Typical cop persona. BUT the main problem here is Evelyn’s past. She’s never had a boyfriend. She herself claims she’s been scarred beyond repair. Yet all it takes to undo all that damage is one drunken night at a bar. Sure enough, she’s not really ready to give in, and Amarok and Evelyn never really make it past first base, but still, that’s an awful lot of progress for someone who spent twenty years dodging relationships and men in general.

It wasn’t insta-love, and heck I can usually manage insta-lust, but not with a character claiming to be as damaged as Evelyn says she is. That’s just plain character assassination there, and Evelyn lost a lot of credibility then.

Either way, as I said, it’s definitely not a bad read. It wasn’t as unique as I’d hoped, and I had some issues with the characters, but it’s an enjoyable book all the same. I’ll pick up the rest of the series to see what happens next to Evelyn, although admittingly more to read about her psychopaths than to read about Evelyn herself.

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