REVIEW: Inside by Brenda Novak

Title: Inside (Bulletproof, #1)
Author: Brenda Novak
Format: eARC
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: NetGalley
Published: June 28, 2011 by Mira

Virgil Skinner served fourteen years for a murder he didn't commit. He's finally been exonerated, but he can't escape the gang he joined in order to survive. They'll do anything to keep him from telling what he knows. And if they can't get to Virgil they'll go after his sister and her kids.

The California Department of Corrections needs someone to infiltrate another gang, one that's taking control of the state's most notorious supermax. Virgil agrees to do it under an alias—in exchange for his sister's protection.

Chief Deputy Warden Peyton Adams is opposed to having Virgil in her prison. How will she protect him if things go bad? Besides, she's far too attracted to him; she might even be falling in love with him. That makes her all the more desperate to keep him safe—and it gives him someone else to lose.

Why I Read this Book: The first book I read by this author, White Heat (my review), didn’t work out so well for me. I felt that it focused too much on the cult aspect and lacked in the romance department. But since I’ve heard great things about Brenda Novak’s novels, I decided to give this author another shot. And I’m glad I did!

What I Liked: This was a fascinating romantic suspense novel. The title says it all – Virgil is going back on the inside (of prison) to help the CDC find out who was behind the murder of a local judge. In turn, Virgil will get his sisters and her 2 children into a protective program. Virgil is an incredible and honorable man for putting his life on the line to protect his sister and her family.

Peyton is the Chief Deputy Warden of the Pelican Bay prison and has been placed in charged of overseeing the operation from inside the prison. She’s a good person; she doesn’t write off the inmates just because they’re in prison. Instead, she treats them with respect (when respect is due). But don’t let her lack of prejudice fool you though; she’s no push over and she’s not gullible or na├»ve.

Peyton puts a lot on the line just by having a relationship with Virgil. There are so many reasons why the two shouldn’t be together: she could lose her job and her life could be in danger. The Crew, the prison gang Virgil was associated with during his 14 year prison stint, will do anything to get to him, including hurting those he loves. Which is why his sister and her kids are on the run. So just by having a relationship with Virgil, Peyton herself could be on the run for the rest of her life. If she truly wants to be with him and make a life together, she would have some serious sacrifices to make as well as having her own life on the line.

What I Didn’t Like: It was so emotionally hard for me to get through the part where Virgil’s sister got attacked with her children watching. It was terrifying to read and it broke my heart. It was especially difficult because I’m a mother myself and I can’t bare to imagine myself, nor my children, being in that position. It affected me so much emotionally, I cried. Very powerful scene but one that had me feeling distraught while reading it.

Overall Impression: Brenda Novak won back my readership with Inside. It had a great mix of romance and suspense and it was suspenseful right up to the very end. I was emotionally invested into these characters and I cannot wait to read In Seconds, the next book in the Bulletproof series. I am so glad I gave this author a second chance!


The Book Vixen’s Rating:

4 Frogs

About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.


  1. I always find such interesting romantic suspense books at your blog :=D

  2. Blodeuedd - Romantic suspense is my favorite sub-genre at the moment. I really enjoy reading it :)

  3. I've had White Heat on my TBR forever now... but I hadn't heard of this one!

  4. Bookish Brunette - I hadn't heard of this one either, until I stumbled upon it on NetGalley. I love romantic suspense so I had to give it a try. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on White Heat, when you get around to reading it :)

  5. Sounds like it'd be riveting and a very interesting storyline... I like crime thrillers and I'm addicted to cop/crime TV shows, so you'd think I'd read more of those kind of books (I wish). But I'm not sure I could read the part about the mom getting attacked in front of her kids... that's kind of where I draw the line on my TV shows anyway, so seeing it in print would be extra hard for me. Maybe someday I'll be able to pick this one up. I've heard wonderful things about Brenda Novak, and I do have one of her books on my TBR pile (I can't remember which one, though).

  6. Mama Kitty - I think you'll like this book. I can tell you what happens with the sister. It might make you feel better.

    Do you watch Body of Proof? I LOVE that show!


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