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Keep You Close

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An FBI official's sense of right and wrong is blurred when her own son is accused of the unimaginable in this heart-pounding thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know. Stephanie Maddox makes tough decisions every day. She has her hands full heading the FBI's Internal Investigations division, policing wrongdoers within the Bureau. But, as a single m An FBI official's sense of right and wrong is blurred when her own son is accused of the unimaginable in this heart-pounding thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know. Stephanie Maddox makes tough decisions every day. She has her hands full heading the FBI's Internal Investigations division, policing wrongdoers within the Bureau. But, as a single mother, the most important thing in her life is her teenage son Zachary, who's anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters. So when she discovers a gun concealed in Zach's room, her world reels. And then an FBI agent on the domestic terrorism squad shows up at her door and utters three devastating words: "It's about Zachary. . . ." Has she been wrong about her near-perfect son? Is Zach embroiled in something criminal--something deadly? And, if so, what is her greater duty: To protect him? Or to protect her country?

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An FBI official's sense of right and wrong is blurred when her own son is accused of the unimaginable in this heart-pounding thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know. Stephanie Maddox makes tough decisions every day. She has her hands full heading the FBI's Internal Investigations division, policing wrongdoers within the Bureau. But, as a single m An FBI official's sense of right and wrong is blurred when her own son is accused of the unimaginable in this heart-pounding thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Need to Know. Stephanie Maddox makes tough decisions every day. She has her hands full heading the FBI's Internal Investigations division, policing wrongdoers within the Bureau. But, as a single mother, the most important thing in her life is her teenage son Zachary, who's anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters. So when she discovers a gun concealed in Zach's room, her world reels. And then an FBI agent on the domestic terrorism squad shows up at her door and utters three devastating words: "It's about Zachary. . . ." Has she been wrong about her near-perfect son? Is Zach embroiled in something criminal--something deadly? And, if so, what is her greater duty: To protect him? Or to protect her country?

30 review for Keep You Close

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kaceey

    3.5* Stephanie is a special agent with the FBI and the single mother of a seventeen year old son. A son who SHE is having trouble recognizing lately. Less communicative, more sullen. Is it just typical teenage behavior? Or is he hiding something. Well that question is quickly answered when she finds a gun hidden in the back of his closet! Why would her teenage son have a gun? What is he involved in? Stephanie is going to do whatever it takes to protect her son. Even if it costs her her career...or 3.5* Stephanie is a special agent with the FBI and the single mother of a seventeen year old son. A son who SHE is having trouble recognizing lately. Less communicative, more sullen. Is it just typical teenage behavior? Or is he hiding something. Well that question is quickly answered when she finds a gun hidden in the back of his closet! Why would her teenage son have a gun? What is he involved in? Stephanie is going to do whatever it takes to protect her son. Even if it costs her her career...or maybe more. This book started off with a bang I was instantly drawn in, loving Stephanie’s character and that of her son Zachary. But about half way it turned into full on espionage and conspiracy theories. Just a bit too far fetched for me. If you enjoy espionage mixed with a splash of family drama then this might be a good pick for you! A buddy read with Susanne!🌸 Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group Ballantine and Karen Cleveland for an ARC to read and review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    3.5 Stars* (rounded down) A Fast Moving Mystery / Suspense! FBI Agent Steph Maddox hears a knock at the door. Another agent appears. He accuses her son Zachary of being a part a domestic terrorist group. Her first reaction is that he is being framed. Of course, everyone always say that, she would know - after all, she works in Internal Affairs. Forget the fact that moments earlier, Steph found a loaded gun hidden in Zachary’s closet in a nondescript paper bag. Even though they pass like ships in t 3.5 Stars* (rounded down) A Fast Moving Mystery / Suspense! FBI Agent Steph Maddox hears a knock at the door. Another agent appears. He accuses her son Zachary of being a part a domestic terrorist group. Her first reaction is that he is being framed. Of course, everyone always say that, she would know - after all, she works in Internal Affairs. Forget the fact that moments earlier, Steph found a loaded gun hidden in Zachary’s closet in a nondescript paper bag. Even though they pass like ships in the night.. Steph knows her son. Lives are at stake. The problem of course, is determining whose. “Keep you Close” moves at breakneck speed. It is extremely suspenseful and it started out quite strong. While I enjoyed this mystery, I didn’t quite love it as I felt like the author threw in a few too many curveballs for me to catch. This is a follow up to Karen Cleveland’s “Need to Know” and it’s clear based on both books what a fabulously strong writer the author is. I am definitely a fan and can’t wait to see what she comes out with next. This was a buddy read with Ms. Kaceey! So glad we got read this one together. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House - Ballantine and Karen Cleveland for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Published on NetGalley and Goodreads on 4.30.19. Will be published on Amazon on 4.28.19

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland is a thriller that tackles the question of just how far one would go for someone they love.  Stephanie Maddox is an special agent with FBI and has spent years and years working to get where she is in her career but would she throw it all away for the love of her life, her son Zachary? Stephanie is a single mother and has done her best keeping her relationship with her son a priority despite her high pressure job. Even though Zachary has hit his sullen and angsty Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland is a thriller that tackles the question of just how far one would go for someone they love.  Stephanie Maddox is an special agent with FBI and has spent years and years working to get where she is in her career but would she throw it all away for the love of her life, her son Zachary? Stephanie is a single mother and has done her best keeping her relationship with her son a priority despite her high pressure job. Even though Zachary has hit his sullen and angsty teenage years Stephanie still tries to keep communication open between them but one day while cleaning she finds a gun in her son's room. Stephanie believes there has to be an explanation for what she's found but  before a blink of an eye she finds her son being accused of so much more. Trying to stay one step ahead of the investigation Stephanie is determined to find out what is going on and prove her son is innocent Keep You Close is really written to be a page turning action packed thriller that only gains intensity along the way. However, as much as I love a fast pace and plenty of action in this instance I felt it was all a tad off. Perhaps I just needed to know the characters a little better or perhaps it was due to it feeling a bit over the top but this one ended up a little flat for me. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  4. 5 out of 5

    Holly B

    3.5 Stars Karen Cleveland's 2018 debut, Need To Know was one of my top reads last year and I was eager to read her second book. The fast pace/action and suspense are back, but I felt the story lacked the character development and intrigue and overall "cleverness" that was created in her debut. FBI Agent Stephanie Maddox is at the heart of the story as she tries to unravel a domestic anarchist groups involvement in a web of lies that could hurt her son, Zachary. She struggles to search for the trut 3.5 Stars Karen Cleveland's 2018 debut, Need To Know was one of my top reads last year and I was eager to read her second book. The fast pace/action and suspense are back, but I felt the story lacked the character development and intrigue and overall "cleverness" that was created in her debut. FBI Agent Stephanie Maddox is at the heart of the story as she tries to unravel a domestic anarchist groups involvement in a web of lies that could hurt her son, Zachary. She struggles to search for the truth and keep her Zachary safe. These characters weren't developed enough for me to really become invested in the outcome. The "action" is definitely what drives this novel so action fans will enjoy. I just needed to feel more for the characters and the timeline felt too jumpy. The reveal was definitely a surprise. Fans of conspiracy theories and a plot of non-stop action may find this one more of a winner than I did. Out May 28,2019 Thanks Doubleday / NG for my copy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Karen Cleveland likes to tackle ethical dilemmas and how much you really know about the ones you love. Stephanie Maddox is the FBI agent in charge of Internal Investigations, so needless to say she has a strong sense of right and wrong. Which makes it even worse when she discovers a loaded gun in her teenage son’s room. I mean, anyone who’s raised teenagers knows they grow distant and moody, they stop communicating. But a gun? That’s way outside the norm. We’re quickly given glimpses of Stephani Karen Cleveland likes to tackle ethical dilemmas and how much you really know about the ones you love. Stephanie Maddox is the FBI agent in charge of Internal Investigations, so needless to say she has a strong sense of right and wrong. Which makes it even worse when she discovers a loaded gun in her teenage son’s room. I mean, anyone who’s raised teenagers knows they grow distant and moody, they stop communicating. But a gun? That’s way outside the norm. We’re quickly given glimpses of Stephanie’s past interspersed with the current story. This book moves at a fast pace. But I can’t say I ever really connected with Stephanie. For some reason, she and the rest of the characters felt flat. Too many of the story lines have been done before. I didn’t feel like this broke any new ground. This is a good story and an easy read, it just isn’t great. And I thought Need to Know had been great. My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Selena

    I received a free e-copy of Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland from NetGalley for my honest review. FBI agent, Stephanie Maddox, is a single mother of Zachary, her teenage son. One day, while cleaning her son's room, she finds a loaded gun. Another agent show up and Zachary is soon being accused of being associated with a terrorist group. A terrorist group that is planning mass attacks. Does Stephanie really know her son? Is she being blinded by being his mother? She now has to decide whether she I received a free e-copy of Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland from NetGalley for my honest review. FBI agent, Stephanie Maddox, is a single mother of Zachary, her teenage son. One day, while cleaning her son's room, she finds a loaded gun. Another agent show up and Zachary is soon being accused of being associated with a terrorist group. A terrorist group that is planning mass attacks. Does Stephanie really know her son? Is she being blinded by being his mother? She now has to decide whether she is going to believe her son or the agency she has worked at for twenty years. An intense read with lots of twists.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Karen Cleveland likes to tackle ethical dilemmas and how much you really know about the ones you love. Stephanie Maddox is the FBI agent in charge of Internal Investigations, so needless to say she has a strong sense of right and wrong. Which makes it even worse when she discovers a loaded gun in her teenage son’s room. I mean, anyone who’s raised teenagers knows they grow distant and moody, they stop communicating. But a gun? That’s way outside the norm. We’re quickly given glimpses of Stephani Karen Cleveland likes to tackle ethical dilemmas and how much you really know about the ones you love. Stephanie Maddox is the FBI agent in charge of Internal Investigations, so needless to say she has a strong sense of right and wrong. Which makes it even worse when she discovers a loaded gun in her teenage son’s room. I mean, anyone who’s raised teenagers knows they grow distant and moody, they stop communicating. But a gun? That’s way outside the norm. We’re quickly given glimpses of Stephanie’s past interspersed with the current story. This book moves at a fast pace. But I can’t say I ever really connected with Stephanie. For some reason, she and the rest of the characters felt flat. Too many of the story lines have been done before. I didn’t feel like this broke any new ground. This is a good story and an easy read, it just isn’t great. And I thought Need to Know had been great. My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Sullivan

    In this propulsive thriller, FBI agent Steph Maddox must untangle a web of deceit when her 17-year-old son is accused of plotting to murder government officials. Steph's determination to protect her son at all costs takes her deep into a conspiracy much more nefarious than she ever could have imagined, making her ultimately choose between her duty to her country or her duty to her son. It's a fine premise, but it doesn't break any new ground and the writing leaves a lot to be desired. Thrillers ar In this propulsive thriller, FBI agent Steph Maddox must untangle a web of deceit when her 17-year-old son is accused of plotting to murder government officials. Steph's determination to protect her son at all costs takes her deep into a conspiracy much more nefarious than she ever could have imagined, making her ultimately choose between her duty to her country or her duty to her son. It's a fine premise, but it doesn't break any new ground and the writing leaves a lot to be desired. Thrillers are a dime a dozen, so when I sit down to read one, I want it to really stand out above the rest. This one does not. The prose is extremely fast-paced and plot-driven, with lots of dialogue. While this makes for a quick and easy read, there's very little character development aside from some cliche flashbacks to Steph's past that establish her as a Strong Woman. And the plot itself is pretty convoluted. There are twists, mostly for the sake of there being twists. The Russians are somehow involved, lending a topical element. I was initially intrigued by the idea of a mother questioning if she really knows her son and being put into a difficult position of wondering what he might be capable of, but none of this is really explored with any nuance. And frustratingly, Steph's character arc ultimately puts her in the same position of weakness that she worked so hard to overcome. If you love thrillers and don't have very high standards for them as long as they hold you're attention, you'll probably enjoy this just fine. Just don't expect much else.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." (Oscar Wilde) Stephanie Maddox heads the FBI's Internal Investigations division and is uniquely placed because of her inherent beliefs about right and wrong. She's all about love of country and the greater good. How to shake up a strong-willed person like that? Get to her son. Steph's a single mother to teenaged Zachary. Lately the two haven't gotten along so well and she is suddenly faced with some discoveries that make her realize that she doesn't kn "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." (Oscar Wilde) Stephanie Maddox heads the FBI's Internal Investigations division and is uniquely placed because of her inherent beliefs about right and wrong. She's all about love of country and the greater good. How to shake up a strong-willed person like that? Get to her son. Steph's a single mother to teenaged Zachary. Lately the two haven't gotten along so well and she is suddenly faced with some discoveries that make her realize that she doesn't know Zachary at all. When Steph finds out that Zachary is implicated in a domestic terrorist plot, when she finds a gun hidden in his room, and when she's told that he's in real trouble -- what does she do? DENIAL. Stephanie believes that her son is being framed because of some deep secrets that she discovered as part of her own previous cases and investigations. All she is asked to do in order to protect her son from prison is to "let it go." NO SPOILERS. Make no mistake, this is a fast-paced and very complicated thriller involving the FBI, CIA and the upper levels of government. It's quite difficult to guess at what is going on, and even after I finished, I had to go back and read the last couple of chapters several times. Even now I'm not quite sure I completely understand all the nuances and the cross-double cross espionage pieces of the plot and definitely unsure of which are the bad guys. As far as the character of Stephanie Maddox -- that's tough. She's definitely dedicated to her job and never makes the choices I'd make as a mom but I guess all she's ever known is how to keep her cards and information close to her chest and she exists in a state of distrust. And she is full of questions and secrets without anyone to turn to with her dilemma. I was quite surprised to find that this novel is somewhat related to NEED TO KNOW though it's not a series per se. I'll be interested to see what the author does next and if any of these characters reappear in her next book. Although I enjoyed this, I didn't like it nearly as much as I liked the first one. It was a little hard to keep all the players straight as they didn't go into neat little boxes! Probably my fault! Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for this e-book ARC to read and review. 3.5 stars

  10. 4 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    To be reviewed over at Fresh Fiction!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bridgett

    A fast-paced, action packed, suspense story. Keep You Close is my first Karen Cleveland novel. I was impressed by the breakneck speed with which this story unfolded. It grips you from page number 1 and doesn't let go until the end. I read the entire book yesterday, and it definitely kept my interest. The political fodder is scary to contemplate. Having said all that, the novel felt somewhat empty. There was next to no character development, and the writing was so abrupt and unexpressive, I felt A fast-paced, action packed, suspense story. Keep You Close is my first Karen Cleveland novel. I was impressed by the breakneck speed with which this story unfolded. It grips you from page number 1 and doesn't let go until the end. I read the entire book yesterday, and it definitely kept my interest. The political fodder is scary to contemplate. Having said all that, the novel felt somewhat empty. There was next to no character development, and the writing was so abrupt and unexpressive, I felt little personal engagement to the story. It needed something more. And let's be real here, for a woman who had worked her way up the ranks of the FBI, Stephanie was a bit of a dimwit. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why she did/said certain things. That was the biggest turn-off for me, and why I didn't rate this novel higher. Recommended to those who enjoy brisk action novels. I could see this being a good beach read. Thanks to NetGalley, Ballantine Books, and Keven Cleveland for my copy. Publication date: May 28, 2019 Review published on Goodreads: May 26, 2019

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (Stephanie's Novel Fiction)

    I love a good spy adventure/political thriller and after hearing such fabulous things about Karen Cleveland's first novel, Need to Know, I knew I had to read Keep You Close. It definitely delivers the high paced action, suspense, and espionage you expect when reading a book about FBI agents, anarchist groups, and Russian spies who are deeply embroiled in the highest levels of the US government! Agent Stephanie Maddox has always put her career at the FBI first and she's now head of Internal Affair I love a good spy adventure/political thriller and after hearing such fabulous things about Karen Cleveland's first novel, Need to Know, I knew I had to read Keep You Close. It definitely delivers the high paced action, suspense, and espionage you expect when reading a book about FBI agents, anarchist groups, and Russian spies who are deeply embroiled in the highest levels of the US government! Agent Stephanie Maddox has always put her career at the FBI first and she's now head of Internal Affairs in Washington, D.C. Her son Zach is 17, about to graduate high school, and head to college, and their relationships is more that of strangers instead of mother and son. Yet, when Stephanie finds a loaded gun hidden in Zach's closet, she is positive that it's not his. Even when one of her co-workers, an old boyfriend, comes to her house later that night telling her that Zach is involved with a domestic anarchist group and asks to speak to Zach, she not only still believes in her son, but refuses to allow access to her son. Steph's faith in Zach means one thing: she'll do whatever she can to prove his innocence and find the truth, which leads her to begin investigating the anarchist group and the domestic terrorist threat all on her own. If Zach is innocent, she'll prove it at all costs but if not, will her allegiance still be to the country she's dedicated her life to for almost two decades, or will she still protect her son? The action in Keep You Close is almost non-stop and intense, which makes for a great spy thriller, and Cleveland's writing excels in these scenes more than anywhere else in the novel. The Russian spy trope made for a truly believable plot since it's not only something ripped from newspaper headlines but a classic spy thriller theme. I thought the twisty reveal at the end was totally unexpected and fantastic, but I was left wondering if there would be another book to answer some questions that I now have—I certainly hope so since I very much enjoyed my first foray into Cleveland's writing!  Overall, this was a quick, fast-paced, action-packed read that I'd recommend to anyone who likes books about spies, espionage, conspiracy theories, and political thrillers. **Thank you so much, Justine Magowan, at Random House - Ballantine for gifting me a bound manuscript to read in exchange for a fair and honest review.**

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White

    Wow, Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland is a fantastic read. I found you want a fast paced story with plenty of twists then you need to read this book. It has it all.... Russians, hate groups, terrorism, teenage issues... and an ending that you won't see coming . Steph Maddox works for the FBI. She loves her job and her son Zach. But hasn't her job taken her attention away from being a good mother? When cleaning her sons room one day she makes a discovery that makes her doubt everything. A gun hi Wow, Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland is a fantastic read. I found you want a fast paced story with plenty of twists then you need to read this book. It has it all.... Russians, hate groups, terrorism, teenage issues... and an ending that you won't see coming . Steph Maddox works for the FBI. She loves her job and her son Zach. But hasn't her job taken her attention away from being a good mother? When cleaning her sons room one day she makes a discovery that makes her doubt everything. A gun hidden amongst the dirty clothes. How well does she really know her son? And how far will she go to protect him? The more she looks into this the more danger she is in, and anybody in her life. Will she do what's right for her country or her family? Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Transwold Publishers for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    Steph(single mom-33), a Chief of FBI investigations, had found a incomprehensible Glock-26 pistol in her “honor role” son’s closet (Zach-17). When she was 17+, she worked for a political figure who rapes her. Others told her to let it go, who would believe her, no one would believe her claiming “indecent assaults” over this man. She is persistent for revenge, goes to law school & with goals to help victims. She rises to a Chief FBI agent to bring justice to others. Scott Clark(FBI friend) wa Steph(single mom-33), a Chief of FBI investigations, had found a incomprehensible Glock-26 pistol in her “honor role” son’s closet (Zach-17). When she was 17+, she worked for a political figure who rapes her. Others told her to let it go, who would believe her, no one would believe her claiming “indecent assaults” over this man. She is persistent for revenge, goes to law school & with goals to help victims. She rises to a Chief FBI agent to bring justice to others. Scott Clark(FBI friend) warns that a past Politician she knew, who harmed her, is now involved with a Anti.Gov.Group & Russian lead, which will harm her family & career. The end was hard with many “loops”. Her son uncovers his DNA “family tree” to his half-brother & his corrupt political father? They injure grandma, get Steph demoted to a lower FBI position, murder a FBI friend & surprised Zach w/college rejections, from his “honor rows”? Steph is held at gunpoint - “I’ve gone this long w/o killing you” by a group leader & Zach maybe framed w/fingerprints on chemical poisons that lead to murders & a major political resignation?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    I'm a little saddened by my reaction to this book- Need To Know was one of my top thrillers last year - but Keep You Close didn't really hit the mark for me at all. The premise is intriguing. It has a domestic noir hint - how well do you know your children- with a spy thriller twist- main protagonist is not your usual parent... However my honest reaction was one of ennui. The characterful observations of Need to Know are lacking here, giving it a flat feel and it feels a lot more like a paint by n I'm a little saddened by my reaction to this book- Need To Know was one of my top thrillers last year - but Keep You Close didn't really hit the mark for me at all. The premise is intriguing. It has a domestic noir hint - how well do you know your children- with a spy thriller twist- main protagonist is not your usual parent... However my honest reaction was one of ennui. The characterful observations of Need to Know are lacking here, giving it a flat feel and it feels a lot more like a paint by numbers thriller. Which isn't a bad thing necessarily, other readers looking for a fast paced fairly light read will be well rewarded- but I guess I wanted more. The twists are ok but not unexpectedly delightful as in the previous book and all in all it felt like an attempt to do the same thing again in a different domestic situation. I read it happily enough, even enjoyed a fair bit of it in a popcorn way and it's not bad by any means - I just didn't feel it this time. I'll look forward to book 3. My gut feeling is Keep You Close is simply another case of difficult second book syndrome and Karen Cleveland clearly is a talented writer so that'll pass.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Karen Cleveland has done it again! Last year, I was blown away by Need to Know and had been eagerly anticipating what she would write next. When I heard it was not a sequel, I was disappointed as NTK ended on a giant OMG moment - I was thrilled to see plot points from Need to Know addressed in Keep You Close! You do not need to have read Need to Know first but if you have, I think it will really add to the story! How far will you go to protect your son is the question our heroine, FBI agent Step Karen Cleveland has done it again! Last year, I was blown away by Need to Know and had been eagerly anticipating what she would write next. When I heard it was not a sequel, I was disappointed as NTK ended on a giant OMG moment - I was thrilled to see plot points from Need to Know addressed in Keep You Close! You do not need to have read Need to Know first but if you have, I think it will really add to the story! How far will you go to protect your son is the question our heroine, FBI agent Steph Maddox has to ask herself when her son is accused of domestic terrorism. Told in Cleveland’s signature style with twists, turns and gasps along the way, Keep You Close was another winner for me and I can’t wait to see what comes next from this CIA agent turned author! Thank you to Random House Ballantine for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Debi Hawkes

    I confess I haven't read anything by this author before, so nothing to compare it to like other reviewers who feel this one doesn't live up to her previous book. I must say as far as a thriller, it got me didn't see this one coming. So that's a plus. The characters though were a bit one dimensional, and was a bit hard to believe in some of the twists. All in all, a decent read. I received an ARC from NetGalley and publisher Ballantine Books

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I really enjoyed reading Karen Cleveland's "Need to Know" (a 5 star read!) so I was excited to read her next book. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with this one. It was a quick read. Fast-paced and highly suspenseful. However the ending seemed rushed. The story keeps you gripped throughout, waiting for the climax at the end, but there was none. No conflict resolution really, just an explanation in the epilogue. The writing style was not up to par either. She switched from past to present witho I really enjoyed reading Karen Cleveland's "Need to Know" (a 5 star read!) so I was excited to read her next book. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with this one. It was a quick read. Fast-paced and highly suspenseful. However the ending seemed rushed. The story keeps you gripped throughout, waiting for the climax at the end, but there was none. No conflict resolution really, just an explanation in the epilogue. The writing style was not up to par either. She switched from past to present without skipping a beat, which was confusing at times. I also had a hard time connecting with the protagonist. I didn't understand how she thought she had all the "power" and could take him down without any proof. She's in Internal Investigations! That's all about proof and not accusations. I also found the inner dialogue with the "psychiatrist" quite annoying. This is the second book in a row with this writing technique. Ugh. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for a copy of Karen Cleveland's "Keep You Close" in exchange of an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    It is not a good sign if it takes me ten days to read a “thriller”. Needless to say, I am not thrilled with this second effort by Karen Cleveland . In comparison to her debut, NEED TO KNOW, this book is a polar opposite, as reflected in my ratings of the two novels. KEEP YOU CLOSE has an intriguing story arc but it fell flat, in large part because the characters are flat. One dimensional characters and their stilted dialogue become dull. Incessant and redundant internal dialogue of the narrator n It is not a good sign if it takes me ten days to read a “thriller”. Needless to say, I am not thrilled with this second effort by Karen Cleveland . In comparison to her debut, NEED TO KNOW, this book is a polar opposite, as reflected in my ratings of the two novels. KEEP YOU CLOSE has an intriguing story arc but it fell flat, in large part because the characters are flat. One dimensional characters and their stilted dialogue become dull. Incessant and redundant internal dialogue of the narrator not only slows the pace but is quite annoying. There is plenty of action that should be enthralling, but instead, become frustrating and confusing due to poor transitioning between the numerous and disjointed events. Furthermore, events become confusing because of the writing style; there are A LOT of flashbacks that are introduced then dropped, mentioned again briefly,dropped, then mentioned again ( see what I mean by disjointed?).....by which time the reader struggles to remember which character(?), what happened(?), when was this in the story timeline(?). I felt myself getting lost in all the clutter; worse, I lost interest due to this repetitive, back and forth, and convoluted writing style. I kept reading, trying to focus on all ‘the who doing what to whom’ because I knew (hoped) this author would make it worth the read. Regrettably, she did not. The storyline continued to plod along with event after event occurring in protagonist Step’s life in which she has no control over nor power to overcome. In the end, she never overcomes the conflict. Without a conflict resolution, the story arc itself does not resolve satisfactorily. It is disappointing when the protagonist is not victorious; indeed, Steph is utterly defeated by political, conspiratorial machinations. Not a satisfying denouement. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    dnf @ page 100 - i can't connect with anything, everything seems far fetched and the main character doesn't seem like a very good agent idk this is stupid

  21. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    First of all, I really enjoyed Karen Cleveland’s debut novel last year – NEED TO KNOW – a lot. In my review, I wrote about how it was a concept novel that worked well and recommended it highly. Guess my surprise when I stopped by my local Barnes & Noble last week and by accident, spotted Cleveland’s second novel –KEEP YOU CLOSE - in the new hardcover section. Oh, the gleam in my eye knowing that I was looking forward to another unbelievable, tension-filled, psychological, spy filled, masterp First of all, I really enjoyed Karen Cleveland’s debut novel last year – NEED TO KNOW – a lot. In my review, I wrote about how it was a concept novel that worked well and recommended it highly. Guess my surprise when I stopped by my local Barnes & Noble last week and by accident, spotted Cleveland’s second novel –KEEP YOU CLOSE - in the new hardcover section. Oh, the gleam in my eye knowing that I was looking forward to another unbelievable, tension-filled, psychological, spy filled, masterpiece… Well, I just finished the book approximately 30 minutes ago and I am still processing the cumulative effect of the book and ending as I write my review. There were things I liked and there were things that I didn’t like… Let’s go through them, starting with the things I liked. Although this book is not a sequel to her first, Cleveland is growing and developing her talents as a writer. In several ways she demonstrates her natural talent for writing thrillers, full of suspenseful twists and turns, and psychological drama on almost every page. Although you need to suspend some belief, she delivers strong results for the most part. I read the book over two days, staying up late to find out what would happen because I was wholly immersed in the story. I skipped studying for a professional test, put Netflix on hold until I was done with this book, and sacrificed some of my sleep hours to get through it. For those of you who enjoyed the fast pacing and surprises at every corner in her first book, many of those same qualities will be found in this one too. Especially the intrigue and deception. Cleveland has increased the stakes when it comes to those. For those of you who were hoping for more of the same, you may take a moment to quietly rejoice before I move on in my review. Now let’s discuss the things I didn’t like so much and struggled with. Like her first book, which focused on a strong female character – Vivian Miller, CIA analyst – this one is about Stephanie Maddox, FBI department head and single parent of a strong-willed son who’s a senior in high school. The first two chapters kick off in high speed like the previous book with Stephanie discovering a loaded gun in her son’s closet, followed by a personal visit from a colleague working on domestic terrorism and a former love interest who’s there about her son, Zachary, who’s in big trouble... Just like Vivian struggling to believe whether or not her husband was a Russian spy, one of the major themes in this book is how well does Stephanie truly know or not really know her son. Does she know what he is really capable of? Like her predecessor, Stephanie faces challenges with her how well she has performed in her family responsibilities as opposed to focusing on her career. In this situation, Stephanie has sacrificed her son many times over and her investment in their relationship may be beyond repair. Cleveland uses their family drama for motivational purposes in driving the plot forward at break-neck speed, but for me it didn’t always work as effectively as I was hoping for. I know that Cleveland was trying to emphasize how we can be blinded to what are children are capable of, but how she delivered it in her writing didn't always work for me this time around from a reasonableness standpoint. Sometimes I just found Stephanie acting stupid and I struggled with why she would behave so immaturely when she is fully trained and experienced FBI agent. I am sure that was what the writer was trying to get across - we all make stupid emotional mistakes when we are really stressed about our children - but there some key moments when Stephanie made certain illogical choices and decisions that required the suspension of grounded reality. The transitions between scenes were also a bit choppy and lost the flow at times throughout the book. That might be a bit nitpicky, but it was noticeable, and disruptive. That leads up to my biggest problem with the book. I have to dance around this issue gently, making sure not to give away any spoilers, or ruin key plot points. Maybe we were spoiled by Cleveland’s first book and the cool, shocking ending on the last page that sent chills down our spines. Maybe it created too much of an expectation for her future books, which is unfair. But, being careful in how I address it, the ending is a bit of a struggle after devouring 300 plus pages to get this particular ending. Some will accept and love it, wondering what my problems with it really is. But other readers may be more like me and say “What the heck?”. There is a large build-up to an emotional climactic ending (that includes a surprise meeting with a certain female character that shall not be named) that doesn’t even fully occur. There are certain key moments and game-changing plot activity that is in some unbelievable manner left to occur off screen. Yes, off screen. And I am pretty sure most of it was to build up momentum and excitement for a third book. Oh, let's keep this thing going... Well dang it! Truth be told, I loved some of the ending and absolutely hated most of it with a passion that will drive me crazy for several days as I let it process and percolate the outcomes in my head. And let me add, I can't stand it when a writer purposely leaves things hanging or vague, therefore robbing a reader of their well-deserved complete experience. Yes, I know that some writers, especially those in the fantasy, science fiction, etc. genres tend do that sometimes, but this was advertised as a stand-alone book and having closure is a fair expectation from the reader. I understand that for most of you, until you read the book, my rant about the ending will not make sense, so please come back and re-read my comments after you are done with it. You can agree with me or completely disagree and call me crazy, that’s okay. That’s what the Goodreads forum is for – the respectful exchange of ideas that writers explore in their books and the way those thoughts and themes make us feel. Overall, this is a concept novel, much like her first, and it works most of the time. It explores how we can create a tunnel-vision view of our own selfish truths, especially when it comes our children - our commitment to them, our sacrifices for their well-being, and our undying love for them. My overall score is skewed – a strong 4 stars for all of the good stuff and a weak 2 stars for all of the things I struggled with, including, and especially, the ending – which comes out to 3 stars for my rating. P.S. I must add a comment that if the surprise meeting with a certain female character that shall not be named, had occurred, and the payoff delivered for the reader, I might have given the book 4 stars… but also, poor Yorick…

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Hill

    I absolutely loved the author’s first book and could not wait for this to be released. It fell really flat though. The book was written in the same fast paced, dialogue driven style as her first however there was no character development at all and I kept having to look back to see who certain characters were. The narrator’s internal monologue was super repetitive . And the plot was super unbelievable. Steph’s discovery of what was in her son’s room and her actions following (including leaving h I absolutely loved the author’s first book and could not wait for this to be released. It fell really flat though. The book was written in the same fast paced, dialogue driven style as her first however there was no character development at all and I kept having to look back to see who certain characters were. The narrator’s internal monologue was super repetitive . And the plot was super unbelievable. Steph’s discovery of what was in her son’s room and her actions following (including leaving her kid home alone considering everything that was going on - hello?!) seemed like something no mother would ever do. The whole thing was a big convoluted mess. I have to wonder if the book was rushed due to the success of her first book. It really felt so. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book. I really wanted to like it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    3 no 7

    “Keep You Close” by Karen Cleveland sets a dark tone right from the start with a prologue that ends with a chilling question. “What if he’s not who she thinks he is?” Stephanie Maddox is chief of Internal Investigations at headquarters, and the tale unfolds in her first person narrative. The present tense structure creates a sense of immediacy and personal connection. Maddox talks to readers, and she talks to herself. She shares her struggles, “It shouldn’t be this difficult,” and explains her c “Keep You Close” by Karen Cleveland sets a dark tone right from the start with a prologue that ends with a chilling question. “What if he’s not who she thinks he is?” Stephanie Maddox is chief of Internal Investigations at headquarters, and the tale unfolds in her first person narrative. The present tense structure creates a sense of immediacy and personal connection. Maddox talks to readers, and she talks to herself. She shares her struggles, “It shouldn’t be this difficult,” and explains her coping mechanisms, “It’s what I do when life seems out of control, try to make my house perfect.” She interprets the actions of others, “He told me so and I ‘believe him,” and she rationalizes what she does not understand, “Zachary made a mistake, sure. Fell in with the wrong crowd.” Readers get to know her well, and understand that she has a problem, a big problem. Readers follow as she plans, “Okay. I need to think about this rationally.” She shares startling revelations with readers, and she is incredulous at what she finds, “He knew. He knew about Zachary all along.” She second-guesses her thinking and investigative process, “Now I don’t know what to think.” Readers have the same questions as Maddox “Who’s doing this to us?” and feel her tension and concern, on every page. Day to day activities are interspersed with flashbacks that raise questions and reveal secrets, important secrets that have big consequences. There are other voices, third person narratives. There is a woman, watching, waiting, and wondering about another woman. “What are they doing to her? And what are they doing to her son?” There is a young man, and there is an older man. Then, the man has a name, and the man with a name has connections. Cleveland’s descriptions elucidate the beauty of Washington, DC. “The cherry tree outside my brownstone is starting to bud, dozens of pink knobs closed tight like tiny fists. In a few weeks, it’ll be in full bloom, and the city will be bursting with pink blossoms. Hordes of tourists, too; they’ll clog the usually quiet sidewalks around the Tidal Basin.” Cleveland contrasts that with stark atmosphere of Maddox’s workspace “It’s a large office. There’s a desk in the center, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases on one wall, filled with legal tomes. A row of lockable filing cabinets along another, which doubles as a table for my coffeemaker. A television mounted to the opposite wall. A wide window in front of me overlooks the cubicle bullpen where my agents work.” “Keep You Close” is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Readers agree when Maddox admits that things are not always what they seem to be “I thought I had it all figured out. Now I’m completely confused.” I received a review copy of “Keep You Close” from Karen Cleveland, Random House, Balentine Books, and NetGalley. It throws readers right into the fray with the characters. The action never lets up until the startling end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Having adored Karen Cleveland's unique mix of spy and domestic thriller in her gripping debut, Need To Know, I wondered whether her sophomore novel would be able to live up to my expectations. She's done it again — this is a compulsive page-turner with relentless pace and relatable characters. Steph is a single mother to young Zachary but lately, she has been working late and they have grown apart. So when Steph discovers a gun in his bedroom she is startled and immediately jumps to conclusions Having adored Karen Cleveland's unique mix of spy and domestic thriller in her gripping debut, Need To Know, I wondered whether her sophomore novel would be able to live up to my expectations. She's done it again — this is a compulsive page-turner with relentless pace and relatable characters. Steph is a single mother to young Zachary but lately, she has been working late and they have grown apart. So when Steph discovers a gun in his bedroom she is startled and immediately jumps to conclusions about where it could've come from. She vows to find out the truth and being a CIA agent her access allows her to view information and get into places she rather wouldn't go. From then on we enter a world of derring-do, corruption, secrets and conspiracies all waiting to be unravelled and exposed. The unusual aspect of this thriller is its superior authenticity; Karen Cleveland spent eight years as a CIA analyst, focusing on counterterrorism and working briefly on rotation to the FBI, she understands the ins and outs in writing superb espionage fiction. It's action-packed, twisty and powerful and explores family bonds and the morality of standing by a loved one when everyone else has turned their backs. The beautiful bond between mother and son is there for all to see. This is a quick, easy read and recommended to espionage connoisseurs and even readers of the wider thriller genre. Steph questions her decisions in terms of the moral and ethical implications, but ultimately it is a book that brings a whole new meaning to love conquers all. Many thanks to Bantam Press for an ARC.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I really liked this book as it has many elements I enjoy: political intrigue, scandals, FBI involvement, as well as a personal story about a mother and son that threatens to unravel with the deceit that plays out. Steph is an FBI agent who inadvertently discovers a loaded gun hidden in her seventeen-year-old son's bedroom. Moments later, another agent appears at her door accusing him of seeking out a radical group that is anti-government and is apparently planning mass attacks. Stunned, Steph mu I really liked this book as it has many elements I enjoy: political intrigue, scandals, FBI involvement, as well as a personal story about a mother and son that threatens to unravel with the deceit that plays out. Steph is an FBI agent who inadvertently discovers a loaded gun hidden in her seventeen-year-old son's bedroom. Moments later, another agent appears at her door accusing him of seeking out a radical group that is anti-government and is apparently planning mass attacks. Stunned, Steph must get to the bottom of this before the FBI steps in; does she believe her son or the agency that must have compelling evidence? And so begins the mystery of who's at the heart of this conspiracy. Is her son secretly someone she doesn't know or is he being set up? I enjoyed both the storyline and the characters; I'm not one of those readers who must love the characters to appreciate the book. Yes, Steph second-guesses herself a lot and yes, she often seems weak when it comes to her family, but what family bonds are never tested? Overall, I liked the tension and the shocking conclusion! On to read her first novel, Need to Know. Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    I was a huge fan of Need to Know so I was so excited to read this book and maybe my expectations were too high but it fell flat for me. It seemed very repetitive and parts were very predictable. There seemed to be endless half-finished conversations between Stephanie and Zachary. I wanted them to just set aside 5 minutes to have one real, honest conversation that would save them hours if future confusion and they didn’t.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Connie Fischer

    Stephanie (Steph) Maddox, age 37, is Chief of the Internal Investigations Section for the FBI in Washington, D.C. She is a single mother to her son, Zachary, 17, who is waiting to hear back from colleges he has applied to. He had signed up for some extra-curricular school activities before sending out his applications, but Steph learns that he has dropped out of some of them. She is shocked saying that it’s dishonest and if he is found out, he might not be accepted. Later, she heads upstairs to Stephanie (Steph) Maddox, age 37, is Chief of the Internal Investigations Section for the FBI in Washington, D.C. She is a single mother to her son, Zachary, 17, who is waiting to hear back from colleges he has applied to. He had signed up for some extra-curricular school activities before sending out his applications, but Steph learns that he has dropped out of some of them. She is shocked saying that it’s dishonest and if he is found out, he might not be accepted. Later, she heads upstairs to gather some trash around Zachary’s room while he’s showering. She then sees a strange bag in his closet, and inside there’s a loaded gun. She knows she should call the police, but can’t bring herself to do it. A close co-worker named Scott approaches Steph the next day saying that Zachary’s name has been discovered as part of a group called the Freedom Solidarity Movement. It’s a group of people who believe they’re not subject to our laws. Once considered an anarchist group, they are on the edge of being considered to be a terrorist group. After Steph is assured by Zachary that he knows nothing of this or of the gun, she realizes that her son is being set up by someone. Is someone out for revenge for her? If so, who and why? The story continues with people from Steph’s past who want revenge on her. It gets somewhat confusing who these people are and why she is their target. It would have been a better book if there had not been so many covert operations to figure out. Copy provided by NetGalley and Goodreads in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for an advance e-galley for honest review. 3.5 stars, rounded up. Keep You Close is a fast-paced government/espionage thriller. How far will hyper-ethical FBI Internal Affairs agent Stephanie Maddox go when she finds out that her son is suspected of anti-government activity? The quick moving plot kept my attention, and the sense of danger and the impending deadlines drive the story forward. Most of what we learn about Stephanie comes from flashback scenes Thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for an advance e-galley for honest review. 3.5 stars, rounded up. Keep You Close is a fast-paced government/espionage thriller. How far will hyper-ethical FBI Internal Affairs agent Stephanie Maddox go when she finds out that her son is suspected of anti-government activity? The quick moving plot kept my attention, and the sense of danger and the impending deadlines drive the story forward. Most of what we learn about Stephanie comes from flashback scenes that explain how she got where she is today, but I would have enjoyed a little more character development for some of the other characters (such as for her son, Zachary- but, perhaps, this was intentional?). Keep You Close can be read as a standalone, but if you read Need to Know, you'll find that there is some continuation of plot lines from that book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bent Hansen

    I loved Karen Cleveland's Need to Know and was excited to see that she already had a follow-up ready. The two books are unrelated, but a few elements from the first book are mentioned in passing in this book. Once again, Cleveland's protagonist is a cool female employed in the intelligence/law enforcement community and faced by villains in high places and dilemmas with life-changing consequences. The plot is exciting and I was hooked from page 1 and didn't lose interest throughout the story. Cleve I loved Karen Cleveland's Need to Know and was excited to see that she already had a follow-up ready. The two books are unrelated, but a few elements from the first book are mentioned in passing in this book. Once again, Cleveland's protagonist is a cool female employed in the intelligence/law enforcement community and faced by villains in high places and dilemmas with life-changing consequences. The plot is exciting and I was hooked from page 1 and didn't lose interest throughout the story. Cleveland adds several twists and turns along the way to keep the plot hot and moving - most of them credible, but others not so much. I end up giving the book 4 big stars for the page-turning experience rather than character development, which is not Cleveland's strong suit. I expect fans of Joseph Finder, John Gilstrap and other greats of the genre (spy/crime/polical thriller) to appreciate this book as well, although it is not as strong as Cleveland's debut. [An ARC of the book was generously provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laurie • The Baking Bookworm

    Karen Cleveland came on my radar early last year when I read and loved her debut novel, Need To Know. This time, the former CIA analyst-turned-author brings readers into the lives of FBI agent Steph Maddox and her teenage son Zachary as they try to figure out who is trying to frame Zachary for a terrorist act. It's an interesting premise that starts off strong with short chapters and a good pace. There's a lot going on with some good twists but unfortunately, it soon has a muddled feel with chopp Karen Cleveland came on my radar early last year when I read and loved her debut novel, Need To Know. This time, the former CIA analyst-turned-author brings readers into the lives of FBI agent Steph Maddox and her teenage son Zachary as they try to figure out who is trying to frame Zachary for a terrorist act. It's an interesting premise that starts off strong with short chapters and a good pace. There's a lot going on with some good twists but unfortunately, it soon has a muddled feel with choppy transitions between scenes and flashbacks, secondary characters that blend into each other and repetitive dialogue. I think I would have liked the book more if I had a better connection to Steph. I love that she's a strong female main character, but her actions make sympathizing with her difficult. Throughout the book I kept feeling like I was on the verge of becoming invested in her life, but I never quite got there. This is a story about conspiracy theories and political intrigue but it's also about a mother who learns she may not really know her teenage son. It has an intriguing premise and while the execution didn't quite meet my expectations, I look forward to reading her next book. Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Ballantine Books for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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