It seems that I have been in a bit of a thriller mood because the next ARC that I picked up to read is NORTH OF NOWHERE by Allison Brennan. And we all know how I love me some audiobooks so I also snatched up the ALC of this book the moment I saw it available on NetGalley.

Kristen and Ryan McIntyre have been hiding from their Los Angeles crime family for the past five years and the day they have been dreading is upon them. Their murderous father Boyd McIntyre has found them and is coming to take them home. As the kids flee with Tony Reed (the man who swept them away from their criminal family and has been raising them as his own), their carefully laid plans go up in flames when the fuel tank of their getaway plane is hit and they have to make a crash landing in the woods not far from the small Montana town they have called home for the past five years. With a severe blizzard on the way and Tony incapacitated, sixteen year old Kristen has to take the helm and make sure that she and ten year old Ryan get somewhere safe and stay out of their father's clutches. They know that Boyd isn’t far behind them, but they don’t know that they have allies - their Aunt Ruby (who left the family years before without a backwards glance) and rancher Nick Lorenzo (who Tony has worked for these past five years) - who are out looking for them as well. But the greatest threat is the one no one saw coming.

This is the first novel I have read of Allison Brennan’s and it was a wonderful introduction. I’m grateful I didn’t make the mistake of reading this one just before bed because it would have caused all the anxiety. I don’t know about anyone else, but any stories with a mafia or crime family is elevated in the anxiety department for me, especially when there are kids involved. 

There are pieces of the past that are slowly unraveled as the story goes on. Brennan writes in a way that hints towards one thing, but then it turns out to be something completely different once you get the entire picture and that kept me on my toes throughout. The story is told from a third person omniscient POV which allows the reader to follow along with each of the characters as the race to find the kids continues. It felt very much like watching a film, jumping around to different perspectives and seeing clues that make sense only to reader while the characters are unaware of their importance.

Even with all the anxiety and stress, this book included a nice found family element that really tugged at my heartstrings. What was especially endearing was the relationship between Kristen and Ryan (and their respective relationships with Tony) and how solidly they had built their foundation together, even through tough times. There was a lot of nuance to multiple characters that I didn’t expect and that helped to ground the story a little more in reality.

The audiobook is narrated by Eliza Foss, who did a good job of building tension and suspense. Though Foss did not necessarily create a different voice for each character, I never had a moment where I was unable to tell who was speaking. There were moments throughout where I needed to pause and take a breather to remember the intricate backstories of the characters and their relationships to each other, but this falls into the realm of the author's writing rather than the narrator's reading.

NORTH OF NOWHERE by Allison Brennan hits shelves on August 8, 2023 and you can preorder a copy for yourself here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book and audiobook from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."