Megan Hart is best known for writing erotica and erotic romances so I already know from past experience to expect some high quality sex scenes in her writing. However Dangerous Promise goes in a whole new direction than her previous books. The first in a futuristic sci-fi romance series entitled The Protector, it’s an intense and action packed tale set in a not too distant future with an ‘enhanced’ bodyguard heroine and a billionaire hero. You won’t find a happy ending for the couple here, as there are at least two more stories to come, but luckily they are being released in quick succession (one a month) and this is a good thing, as if you’re like me, you’ll be ready to dive into the next one as soon as you can.
Nina Bronson has worked for two years for ProtectCorps as an elite bodyguard. She fought as a soldier during the Second Cold War where she was wounded in action and was declared brain dead. She was revived through a set of computer enhancements, nanochips connected to her brain and nervous system to control her bodily functions, her emotions, and even with the ability to erase her memories. Fifteen soldiers had undergone the enhancement techniques before the program was ended . Many believe they shouldn’t exist at all. One of those is Ewan Donahue, Nina’s new client.
Unbeknownst to Nina, Ewan is responsible for the invention, programming and funding of the technology that saved her. He’d created his own fantasy version of a human before realizing the full implications of the Pandora’s Box he’d opened, and Nina’s existence is proof of his greatest achievement and his most profound failure. Having to hire her to keep him alive is the ultimate irony, but his last two bodyguards died on the job, the death threats he’s receiving show no sign of letting up, and he has no alternative.
Nina knows how Ewan feels about the enhanced. He’s the leading voice speaking out against the technology, which is what has led to the death threats against him from a variety of factions. Unfortunately, the enhancements are starting to degrade and the ban making it illegal to continue the research means there is no hope of their being repaired; in short, Nina will die a painful ‘second’ death as the nanochips break down. But Ewan is a client, and he’s paying well for her services. She can keep her emotions locked down and do her job. But not so for Ewan. Despite his beliefs, he finds Nina beautiful and bewitching, strong and capable and he’s intensely attracted to her. When Nina indicates that she’d be willing to indulge in a sexual affair with him, he can’t resist. But will it lead to a fatal mistake?
The world building in this story is unique and full of little details. Though a year isn’t specified, there are clues to the date being near the end of the current century. For example, Ewan has a record player, a museum piece, with a collection of vinyl records in which he references having an album of his great grandmother’s called Groove Hits of the Sixties and jokes that it’s from the 1960s, not the 2060s. All the monotheistic world religions have combined into one, with the ‘OneGod’ being revered. At some point in time, a space station had been built on the moon that affected its orbit, and thereby the tides on earth, leading to environmental disasters and wars. A computer hacker destroyed 90% of the world’s linked computer infrastructure, causing chaos. And of course there is the technology that Ewan created. Nina’s enhancements include the ability to go without food and sleep for extended periods of time. She can pixelate her view to give her clients privacy while in the room with them, she has superior hearing and reacts to threats instantly, her computer like brain calculating scenarios and cause and effect actions. And if requested for security reasons she can wipe out her memory.
Ewan and Nina spend a lot of time talking, which isn’t surprising since she never leaves his side. Their discussions cover many topics including the ethical implications of Nina’s existence. To Ewan’s chagrin he comes to really like Nina as a person, which makes it hard for him to continue to advocate for her demise. And while Nina can turn off any feelings she might have for Ewan, he can’t do the same. Nina likes sex and with her enhanced senses she can see when Ewan is aroused, which leads to some intense and steamy scenes between them. Nina is always the one in control, which is even more of a turn on for Ewan, and likes to inflict a hint of pain in her partner, which Ewan also finds he likes.
Of course while all this is going on, there are also people out to kill Ewan in some very inventive and nasty ways. The action scenes come and go without warning, making for an exciting read. Nina never forgets her mission, but she does begin to open herself up to feeling emotions where Ewan is concerned, and to the genuine belief that they could have a future together. While Nina and Ewan develop a physical and then an emotional relationship, the main conflict between them doesn’t go away and leads to a dramatic conclusion, revelations that leave things up in the air on a cliffhanger that definitely has me wanting to read more. Dangerous Promise is a riveting, sexy, intense read set in a frighteningly believable future.