Karen Cleveland's first book, Need to Know, was a New York Times bestseller. She returns with her newly released second book, Keep You Close.
Steph Maddox works with the FBI, heading up an Internal Affairs division. She's had to juggle her job with her personal life - she's a single mother to teenage Zachary. When she finds a gun in Zak's room, she is stunned. And then a friend who works in the domestic terrorism division shows up at her door. Home and work collide......how well does she really know her son?
Need to Know focused on the choices the lead character had to make to protect her family and that directive is again front and center as Steph struggles to protect her son and country.
She is trying to ferret out sleeper Russian agents that have infiltrated high ranking offices. I did wonder if Steph could have actually gotten away with some of the things she does as she pursues this path. But, Cleveland was herself a CIA analyst, so I will defer to her inside knowledge.
Steph has a heartbreaking secret in her past and her personal life should draw the reader to her, but I found I just couldn't connect with her. She makes some really questionable choices regarding her son and her mother, often at the expense of work. The same thoughts and scenes occur more than once in her personal life. Espionage and conspiracies theories abound - and rather than draw me in, the repetitive nature had me growing weary.
Now, Keep You Close can absolutely be read as a stand alone, but this second book does continue a storyline that began with the first book. The lead character of that first book makes an appearance in Keep You Close. And I think that's why I found the ending unsatisfying - this plotline will continue on with the third book. I'll be honest - I'm not sure I'll pick it up.
Read an excerpt of Keep You Close.