My favorite of the series..so far!
Protector for Hire (Front and Center #4)
By Tawna Fenske
Releasing June 30, 2015
Haunted by his time in Iraq, former soldier Schwartz Patton goes off the grid, retreating deep into Montana’s untamed wilderness. Now, ten years into his self-imposed solitude, his brother tracks him down and asks for a favor. A woman is in danger, and she needs help…and Schwartz is the only one who can protect her.
Designer-loving city girls like Janelle Keebler don’t belong in the wilderness. Unless, of course, they’re witnesses to a murder by their psycho drug-trafficking ex-husbands. Still, Janelle can’t help the immediate physical response she has to her sexy-as-sin protector that leaves her wanting more than she could have ever imagined. Even if he does make terrible coffee…
Every word, every touch, every kiss ignites a need Schwartz thought he’d lost forever. He can’t stop the desperate attraction simmering between him and Janelle, even if he wanted to. Even if it means it could get them both killed.
“You saw something brutal and bloody and awful,” Schwartz murmured. “That sort of thing can mess with your head.”
He spoke like a man intimately familiar with the experience, and Janelle wanted to ask how he knew. But something told her not to. She might be lying half clad in his bed, but he was still a stranger.
A stranger who felt really, really warm.
She sighed, enjoying the heat seeping from his palm through the thin cotton of her cami top and the elastic waist of her satin sleep shorts. “I thought I was doing okay, you know?” she whispered. “I mean, I’m safe here, right?”
“So why do I feel like a scared little girl?”
His palm curled tighter around her waist. In the darkness, the lines in his face shifted to something resembling a grimace. “You most definitely do not feel like a little girl.”
She laughed, snuggling closer to all that heat and strength. “Thanks. I think.”
Her shifting under the covers made his palm drop from her hip to the small of her back. She might have been imagining things, but she could have sworn she felt his fingertips stroke the top of her sleep shorts, dipping ever so lightly under the waistband. Probably shouldn’t read too much into that.
She wasn’t sure what to do with her hands, and found herself awkwardly folding them against her chest. That felt weird. She unclasped her fingers, hesitating.
To touch or not to touch?
She slid her hands forward a few inches to splay them across his chest. He stiffened at first, then relaxed beneath her fingertips.
Better. Much better.
He wore no shirt, and there was a soft dusting of fur across his chest. His muscles were taut and massive beneath her palms, and he didn’t move to push her hands away. Good
Lord, what did this guy do for exercise? Wrestle bears? Bench-press fallen trees? Do bicep curls with boulders?
She tipped her head back to look at him, and found him studying her with an expression of frank interest. “What?”
“I sleep alone. Always. This—this is new.”
She bit her lip. “I can leave if you want.”
“It’s okay. You can stay for a minute. You’re still shaking.”
She was, but it had nothing to do with fear anymore.
She hesitated, wondering how rude it might be to ask the question that was on her mind. It was probably much too intimate.
You just crawled into bed with him. That’s not intimate?
“You said you sleep alone. And you’re way out here in the middle of nowhere. I was just wondering—”
“If Sherman starts to look sexy to me every now and then?”
“What?” She laughed and swatted his chest. “No, that’s not what I meant. Well, not exactly.”
“You’re wondering if I’ve taken a vow of celibacy out here in the Montana wilderness.”
“Well, yeah. Kinda. If it’s too personal, you don’t have to answer.”
“Honey, you’ve been rubbing your thigh on my hard-on for the last five minutes. I think we’re past the point of personal.”
She gasped and started to pull back, mortified. “I thought that was your hip bone. Oh my God, I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be. This is the most action I’ve seen since the night Sherman and I—”
“Okay, okay, stop. Anyone ever tell you you’re crude?”
He grinned. “Nope. The benefit of living alone.”
This series just keeps getting better!
I love the Patton family–career military (usually the Marines; present hero is the exception going Army–hooah!) all the way, with four children named after famous generals–MacArthur (Mac), Grant, Sheridan (Sheri), and Schwarzkopf Alexander Patton (!), AKA Schwartz–they all love each other and endlessly rib on each other in equal measure–and their mother Stella, who apparently breastfed her children while simultaneously oiling her Glock (which explains a lot). They are so much fun to read about, whether they’re all together or separate.
For much of this book they’re separate, since Schwartz, who’s been mentioned in the series but not yet seen, has been in a self-imposed exile for ten years after losing his entire unit in an incident on the Anbar Province, an incident he blames himself for. Believing he’s ruined the Patton legacy of honor, pride, and valor, he’s hidden himself away in a cabin in the wilds of Montana. He’s sent thoughtful gifts and cards to family members–even those he has yet to meet–but Grant’s been the only one who knew how to contact him–via a phone number he made his brother swear not to reveal to anyone else. He used a blocked number to call home for special occasions and holidays, and has been completely off the grid.
Which is going to work perfectly for the favor Grant has for Schwartz now–to keep his soon-to-be sister-in-law Janelle safe from her psychotic ex-husband, one of the most ruthless heroin importers in the country, a guy who apparently doesn’t get the meaning of the word “ex” at least not when it’s paired up with the word “husband”.
The guy that Janelle saw brutally murder a rival with a claw hammer and guitar pick.
So Janelle needs to disappear, and she needs protection. Enter Schwartz.
Right from the start I loved their relationship. Schwartz gets some good ribbing in almost as soon as they get back to his cabin, convincing Janelle that there’s no indoor plumbing (even though the kitchen sink is within eyesight, she’s too flustered to notice) and lets her get halfway down the driveway with her bucket before calling her back and showing her the bathroom with its claw-footed tub and tiled shower, which nearly reduces her to tears of gratitude.
Janelle gives as good as she gets, though, which made reading this one a whole lot of fun.
“Go on,” he said, nodding toward the bathroom. “I’ll make dinner.”
“Do you have to go out and shoot it first?”
“Maybe. If I’m not back by Wednesday, send Sherman out to drag my carcass home.”
“I’ll have a taxidermist stuff you and mount you on the wall.”
“Make sure he poses me angled a little to the right. Gotta show off my good side.”
Their chemistry is as hot as their banter is funny, and though they’ve both got some pretty heavy issues vying to keep them apart, they’re both 100% believable ones and ones that are finally conquered in a plausible way.
The epic conclusion even has Stella and the Patton siblings–along with their significant others–show up to lend the long-lost Patton a hand and a whole lot of witty repartee.
So. Much. Fun.
Did I mention how much I’ve enjoyed this series? 😉
Somehow I’ve missed book #3, Grant’s story ( Best Man for Hire), though I’ve done my best to correct the oversight by picking up a copy almost as soon as I finished book 4.
For now, though, Schwartz is definitely my favorite of the series, and paired up with “Dollface Lambchop Cupcake Sweet Pea Spunky Ma’am Rebecca Janelle” (the scenes in the diner/dentist’s place–too funny!) Keebler, they’ll be a tough couple to beat. 🙂
4 1/2 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Tawna Fenske is a romantic comedy author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with a quirky twist. Her offbeat brand of romance has been praised by Booklist as “A tame Carl Hiaasen on cupid juice,” and RT Book Reviews nominated her debut novel for contemporary romance of the year. Tawna is a fourth generation Oregonian who can peel a banana with her toes and who loses an average of 20 pairs of eyeglasses per year. She lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband, step kids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets.