Sweet Tempest

His to Protect by Patricia Werner
(Harl. Intrigue #526, $3.99, PG) ISBN 373-22526-1
I think I would have been more captivated by His to Protect if it had opened with a less-simplistic description of events. Tracy Meyer has a meeting with bank president Amanda Fielding in which she’ll plead for funds to be released from her stepdaughter’s trust. Jennifer, the stepdaughter, needs asthma treatment. Her father, Scott Meyer, was a cop killed in the line of duty a year earlier. Tracy and Jennifer’s tutor, Carrie Lamb, are prepared to present Jennifer’s case.

Only before the meeting can get underway, a trio of armed gunmen break in to rob the bank. The women cling to each other. Tracy notices that Carrie seems to know one of the men by name, then inexplicably asks Carrie to care for Jennifer if she doesn’t get out alive. Amanda is injured. Carrie is abducted on the back of a motorcycle by one of the thieves. The SWAT team comes to the rescue, and Matt Forrest is stunned to find his late buddy’s widow is one of the hostages. Matt has always had a thing for Tracy. This crisis will give him a chance to get closer to her.

Tracy, of course, is none too keen to give her heart to another cop. Plus, there’s the mystery of Carrie’s disappearance. Why isn’t there a ransom demand? Matt is suspicious of Carrie, who seems to have no background before landing in Denver. And he will have some work to do to get past Tracy’s barriers.

Patricia Werner obviously knows her stuff when it comes to police procedures and SWAT teams. The story moves along at a brisk clip. Matt is no dummy, and he’s portrayed as sharp but caring, which is a darn-near irresistible combination.

Tracy is less astute. The opening scene in which she wonders how Carrie can know the gunman’s name, then asks her to care for Jennifer, left me shaking my head in disbelief. She sharpens up as the plot deepens, but the reader’s first impression is likely to be less than impressive.

For all that the police procedures are described effectively, the story suffers from rather sophomoric writing in places. Roget’s Thesaurus lists at least a dozen synonyms for “thief,” but the gunmen are described as “robbers”. Make that “mean robbers”. It sounds childish. And they are referred to as such throughout the book.

His to Protect offers a decent story, fleshed out with interesting information on the workings of a SWAT team. If you don’t mind the mean robbers, you’ll likely be entertained for a couple of hours. And if you like it, there are two other books in the trilogy.

--Cathy Sova

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