The cover of newcomer Jean Brashear's book indicates that she's a Woman to Watch. Sometimes items like this are merely promotional. In this case, Silhouette is right on the money. The Bodyguard's Bride is polished to a bright sheen. If the level of talent displayed in this book is equaled and continued in future books, get ready for an automatic-buy author.
Jillian Marshall has a plan to avenge her stepsister's death, murdered by a drug and gun running crime lord. She wants to be hired as a bodyguard for the crime lord. Her plan is simple. She'll become invaluable and when she's alone with the corrupt piece of scum, BAM!, she'll blow him away. This plan isn't as ludicrous as it sounds. Jillian is an ex-police officer with the right credentials. She's skilled in self-defense and has the motivation and levelheadedness to pull it all off.
The only thing that's standing in her way is the scum's chief of security, Drake Cullinane. He senses from the outset that there is more to Jillian than she's superficially willing to reveal. He doesn't want her to be hired and sets up a series of challenges, challenges which Jillian passes with high marks. Two bodybuilder types who surprise her by breaking into her bedroom are quickly dispatched with stunning ease. She's able to drive
defensively and save the scum during what turns out to be a mock attack. The scum wants Jillian in his employ, she's passed all of Cullinane's tests, and that means that Cullinane has no choice but to hire her.
But don't think that he likes it. We learn early on that Cullinane also has a hidden agenda, one, unlike Jillian's, which is sanctioned by the government. Drake has been undercover for two years, waiting to destroy the scum's empire. One of the reasons he doesn't want Jillian around is that she upsets the balance. She's the wildcard in his careful planning. Another reason he doesn't want her around is a case of lust. A strong case.
Ignore the title. It's not apropos until the epilogue. What will catch your attention and keep it are the strong leads. Jillian has seen how criminals are able to escape prosecution. Thus, her plan to avenge her sister. Occasionally she wonders if she'll really be able to eliminate the scum, but the memory of her sister's death and the repercussions to her family give her the emotional stamina to continue. Goodness knows she's got the physical stamina. This woman is in fantastic shape. Twenty minutes on a stair-stepper would leave me puffing for hours, but not so our protagonists.
Drake, as head of security, has been on an emotional tightrope for the two years he's been undercover. He has been an intimate witness to the scum's degradation. This personal knowledge and revulsion give him the impetus to withstand the emotional turmoil. When a background check finally turns up Jillian's identity, her motives are readily evident. Now Drake is in a dilemma. Will he trust Jillian with the truth and the knowledge that
they're both on the side of the good guys?
The Bodyguard's Bride is a compelling story. Considering that some of the recently published suspense and intrigue stories end up with people being shot, the element of surprise and worry was always there. The characters possess intelligence and maturity, which in itself make for a satisfying read. Other than the events in the epilogue, which I found personally to be too Pollyanna, there were no discordant notes. Silhouette
truly appears to have a Woman to Watch. That's good news for all of us. Talented authors, whether new or familiar, are always welcome.