Novak was born in Utah, the youngest of five children. Her father worked for the government for the Bureau of Reclamation for thirty years. He retired when Brenda was ten and moved the family to Arizona. Her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was eight years old and was often sick during her childhood but remained active in the community serving as a member of the Chandler City Council.
Brenda married Ted Novak in 1984, and they have five children of their own. In 1993, she caught her day-care provider drugging her children to get them to sleep all day while she worked as a loan officer. No longer able to trust others with their care, she quit her job to stay home with them herself—but she still needed to help making a living. She wasn't sure what she was going to do, felt as if she had no options, until her sister sent her Jude Deveraux's KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR. She loved that book so much it inspired her to try writing herself. She started the next day, and the rest is history. Novak sold her first book, a historical romance published by HarperCollins titled Of Noble Birth, in 1998. She sold a contemporary romance to Harlequin Enterprises shortly thereafter and has written more than fifty novels for Harlequin since. Although she is still writing for Harlequin, she has recently launched a new suspense series with St. Martin's Press and Headline in the UK.
For a number of years, Novak has been actively engaged in raising money for diabetes research (her son suffers from this disease). Through her annual online auctions and the annual digital boxed sets she puts together, she's raised $2.5 million, with all proceeds going to JDRF and the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami. She and her husband, now empty-nesters, reside in Sacramento, CA.