Lady With a Past

The Heiress and the Bodyguard
by Ryanne Corey
(Silh. Desire #1362, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-76362-X
Some writers don't write enough. It's just that simple. In a perfect world, Ryanne Corey would be writing a book a day, and I'd be reading constantly, often with a smile on my face and a prescription for super-strength glasses. But it's not a perfect world, and so I'm glad to get anything that this talented author has to offer.

The premise for The Heiress and the Bodyguard is not a new one. It's the Prince and the Show Girl.. the ‘opposites attract' mentality. In this case, a bodyguard falls for his charge. One problem is that she doesn't know he's her bodyguard, so he's digging himself a deep ditch as he falls for her without telling her who he is. Another problem is that he's also on shaky ethical ground considering that her brother is his employer, but love can bend even the most principled of men.

For several weeks Billy Lucas has been covertly guarding Julie Roper. His invisibility is blown when he follows Julie on a midnight ride. When she runs out of gas on a deserted Florida backroad, she's almost immediately accosted by a drunk who tries to get in her car. Billy is close enough to save the day, ala Dudley Doright. He shows his old police ID badge and convinces Julie that theirs is a chance meeting.

Julie has been lovingly stifled and protected by her older brother. As her birthday approaches, he's advocating marriage with a nice, but bland guy. Even after the fiasco on the deserted road, Julie decides to savor her first taste of freedom. To say she's been sheltered is an understatement. Anybody who lives in a twenty-nine bedroom home obviously has grown up surrounded by hired help. Her enjoyment of the mundane and commonplace is a joy to watch. Her delight in being with Billy is wonderfully obvious.

However, like that ticking bomb, we know that Julie is going to discover Billy's perfidy. Here's where Ryanne Corey shines. She's able to take a predictable situation, something that could be a groaner, and gives it a tweak to make the obligatory conflict more palatable. Instead of resenting the outcome, I actually admired the direction Ms. Corey took.

Knowing that Billy feels inferior to Julie and knowing why he feels that way gives us insight into his actions. Knowing that Julie finds this man and these brand new experiences exhilarating allows us to appreciate her newfound freedom and knowing why adds credibility to her actions.

The dialog and the interplay between Julie and Billy is refreshing. There's nothing stilted, and there's no artificial, fictitious feel. Billy's a charmer. Here's how he covers his vulnerability when he discovers the depth of his feelings for Julie.

"Since you put an arrow straight through my heart last night, it's only fair that I beat you at bowling. Don't you agree?"
She beat him. Badly.

To say that this story line is a predictable one is like saying that a banana is ordinary. Add rum, banana liqueur, butter and voila, that ordinary banana is now Bananas Foster. With Ryanne Corey's skilled writing, The Heiress and the Bodyguard is transformed from the ordinary into a story that's a reader's delight.

There are a certain few authors who always seem to write what appeals to me, ones with a good balance of humor and realism. They give me the kinds of love stories I crave, introduce me to characters who are uniquely special and make me glad I'm a romance reader. Ryanne Corey has done it again, and she's given us a story that's worth savoring.

--Linda Mowery

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