She was one of the McBride Menaces – three sisters known far and wide for their mischief making – could she ever live it down? Mari McBride just wanted to put her troublemaking ways behind her and become respectable. After all, she had plans and people needed to take her seriously. Possessing good business sense and plenty of determination, Mari finally succeeds with those plans and opens Indulgences, her very own confectionery which specializes in chocolate.
TheLuke Garrett is only semi-respectable himself and dwells on the fringes of society. A controversial figure, he owns a number of saloons in Fort Worth’s Hell’s Half Acre but is known to contribute freely to worthy civic causes. Well-mannered, educated, and handsome, most women consider him a highly desirable man but his primary source of income places him beyond the pale for society’s matrons. Stopping at Indulgences one morning, Luke first sees Mari as he samples her chocolate kisses and is impressed by both her beauty and business skills. Mischievous by nature himself, Luke challenges Mari to compare her chocolate kisses to his own. As she seriously considers his challenge, in clear view of her customers, her father steps between the two and orders her home. Frustrated that her father had such nerve and mortified that she had almost fallen under that man’s spell, Mari realizes she had just lost a rung on the hard-earned ladder of respectability. Reputations could be such a bother.
Weeks later, Luke and Mari meet at a party held in the Texas Spring Palace and inadvertently join forces to protect Mari’s youngest sister, Kat, from a most inappropriate man who just happens to be Luke’s long lost half brother, Rory. As Luke and Mari attempt to separate the two lovers, tragedy strikes and the Texas Spring Palace burns to the ground. Officials believe both Kat and Rory perished in the fire. Mari alone believes that Kat is not dead and months later finds reason to hope she and Rory are alive and living in the San Antonio area. Not wanting to give her family false hope, Mari decides to secretly visit San Antonio and locate her sister but realizes she will need assistance – in particular she needs a bodyguard. Although she believes Luke is an outlaw of sorts, he has a personal stake in the search and she trusts him. Allowing Mari to think she has duped him into accompanying her, Luke agrees to travel to San Antonio as her protector although he doesn’t believe they will find Kat and Rory alive.
Her Bodyguard was a pleasing western adventure with a good dose of light humor. Calamity always seemed to be just around the corner as Luke and Mari traveled to and from San Antonio. I laughed as they jumped from the train and sobered at Mari’s encounter with a determined evil outlaw. As expected, Luke is more than an owner of some sleazy saloons and becomes an impressive hero after bumbling a bit in the beginning. Mari was a very likable heroine with lots of spunk and was far from helpless. I enjoyed Luke and Mari’s verbal interaction and found some of it to be downright delicious. Her Bodyguard is the second in The Bad Luck Brides series but I was comfortable reading it as a stand alone book. Although Geralyn Dawson includes characters from previous books written years ago, this series begins with The Bad Luck Wedding Dress, the story of the McBride Menaces’ father and stepmother. Dawson’s website indicates Kat’s story will follow next and is due out in late 2005.
This is my first book to read by Geralyn Dawson and it will not be my last. While it lacked the depth that marks the absolute best of reads, this is a charming story with two intriguing people that is highly recommend, particularly for summer reading.