Novak’s latest will keep you up late with its suspenseful, fast-paced plot and well-developed characters. The premise of a romance forming between a by-the-book prison warden and an ex-con convicted of murder seems unlikely, but Novak painstakingly motivates her protagonists and develops the attraction between them. The result is a believable, yet often surprising story.
Warden Peyton Adams reluctantly agrees to allow Virgil Skinner to enter her maximum-security prison as part of an undercover operation to infiltrate a gang that is threatening security. After serving 14 years for a murder he didn’t commit, Virgil wants out of the gang he joined in prison, but they are threatening his sister’s life. Virgil agrees to cooperate with the Department of Corrections in exchange for putting his sister into witness protection. As they work together, Peyton and Virgil fall for one another. (MIRA, Jul., 448 pp., $7.99)