Special Ops Bodyguard
The Kelley Legacy series may not be sheer romance genius, but I will say that it works as a marketing ploy. Two C-level books in, and for some reason I feel compelled to buy them all and find out how this ends. Go figure.
Special Ops Bodyguard picks up where the first book in the series (Private Justice) left off. The short version is that Senator Hank Kelley has been caught with his pants down. Several women have come forward as his mistresses, and he’s also been accused of financial misconduct. While the senator is guilty of sexual misconduct, he’s not guilty of the financial charges. But his real crime was actually getting mixed up with the wrong people. He discovered the secrets of a powerful organization with a nefarious agenda. They’ve now kidnapped his daughter and are blackmailing him to get what they want. Meanwhile, he is hiding out on his son Cole’s ranch in Montana, and the hero of the book, Gage Prescott, is the bodyguard hired to protect him.
Gage is an ex-special ops soldier who is suffering from guilt and a little PTSD. He comes to Maple Cove, Montana to guard the senator, but finds himself drawn into the life of the pretty little waitress/baker at the local diner. Kate is also in Montana for protective reasons. Her older sister Janet is in an abusive relationship with her husband Larry. Janet is the only family Kate has left, and Kate’s goal is to support her – and hopefully talk her into leaving her jerk husband. They both work in the same diner, and Kate covers for Janet when she needs to and holds her hand when Larry is drunk and mean.
Kate and Gage are attracted to each other right away, but neither is exactly looking for a relationship. Gage doesn’t want to burden anyone with his heavy baggage, and Kate is so focused on her sister that she has no love life. She’s also completely inexperienced. Her best friend growing up was Amish, and she’s adopted some of those religious principles – including abstinence. They eventually find that they just might be able to tackle their problems as a team, but getting there isn’t that easy.
Meanwhile, Gage finds guarding the senator challenging. He’s is clearly keeping secrets, won’t listen to advice, and stubbornly refuses to call the FBI about his kidnapped daughter. Matters come to the head at the end of the book when Hank receives a text ostensibly from the mercenary he’s hired to find. He heads to the bank where drama ensues. The tense situation has everyone – Gage, Kate, and even Hank – questioning values and decisions.
Romance and suspense get nearly equal time here, but the romance aspects of the book are stronger and more believable. Kate and Gage are likable characters, and their problems seem realistic. Sometimes the obstacles keeping the hero and heroine apart can feel very artificial, particularly in series romances. That wasn’t the case here.
The secondary characters are mostly engaging also. If Janet’s problems are somewhat hastily resolved – well, it’s a short book.
The suspense portions of the book are somewhat less successful. The senator is mostly a big jerk here. A big, deluded jerk. Who doesn’t call the FBI when their daughter is kidnapped? And really, this is the second book I’ve read this year where someone takes a text as gospel truth without verifying anything. Is anyone really that stupid? Fortunately, the senator redeems himself somewhat at the end, but I was somewhat disappointed since he’s much more likable in the first book.
I guess that’s why I feel like I have to find out what happens next. In for a penny, in for a pound. But while the romances in these books are stand-alone, the suspense plot really isn’t. If you really need a sense of closure, you’ll have to read them all.