Their first chance at love ended in heartbreak
Wade Rycroft fell in love with Geneva Harris when she was the smartest girl in his class. The rodeo star and the shy academic made for an odd pair, but their chemistry was undeniable. They made plans to get married after high school. Those plans changed when Genny broke his heart. Joining the Army gave him a chance to leave that life behind. News that Genny married the town’s golden boy let Wade know that he could never go home again.
A chance encounter rekindles an old flame
Fifteen years later, he’s found his place in the world and tried to forget the woman who left him standing in the rain. After leaving the Army he forged a new life as a bodyguard at McKay-Taggart, but he still feels incomplete. When his brother’s wedding brings him home to Broken Bend, Texas, he walks into a storm of scandal. Genny’s marriage has dissolved, the town has turned against her, and someone is making threats. Seeing her again reawakens feelings he thought were long gone, and he worries that staying close enough to help her could be too much to bear.
Their reunion just might kill them both
After an attempt is made on Genny’s life, Wade can’t refuse to help her. Watching over her day and night, it’s clear that having her back in his life could be the thing to finally make him whole. When the danger follows them back to Dallas, their second chance at love could be over before it even begins.
Coming to other retailers October 29, 2018
“Don’t. Don’t tell me how to feel. I know you’ve worked through this, but I don’t know how to.”
“It helps to admit that we were all children back then.”
“My mother wasn’t.” He needed to talk about this with her.
“No, but she wasn’t the same after your dad died. She was lost and I’ve forgiven her,” she replied quietly. “You can’t spend your life being angry.”
“You’re angry with me.”
For a moment he thought she would ignore him. Then she turned to him, her eyes shining in the moonlight. “Maybe. It’s hard to figure out how I feel about you. For a long time, I dreamed about you at night. You were the only man I ever loved. Brock killed that. I think he might have killed the part of me that can love someone other than my son. I didn’t feel a lot when my father passed. But then he was the one who told me to suck it up. I went to him after Brock hit me the first time. He told me to not make my husband mad.”
“Genny, he should have killed him. I would have. God, I should have.” That sorrow that had been building inside him threatened to spill over. Anger was there, but it was overshadowed by the terrible pain he felt at the thought of her being alone and afraid.
“It’s funny,” she said, studying him in the silvery light. “I went over pretty much every possible scenario I could, and this wasn’t the way I thought you would handle it. It’s why it took forever for me to talk to you. I thought you would either not care at all or that you would be so angry you went after everyone. I hesitated because I thought I might unleash a beast.”
He could give her this. Since the moment he’d learned the truth, he’d genuinely forced himself to think about how he reacted. It would be selfish to act out in anger when she needed him to be calm, to think about what was best for her. The drive from Broken Bend to Dallas with Ash had made that clear to him. They needed someone who would thoughtfully protect them, not a raging animal who fed his own needs. “You’ve had enough anger in your life. It’s there. God, it’s there, but I swear I won’t act on it because I won’t do anything that could hurt you. I’ll try to handle him in every legal way I can and if I have to take him out, I’ll do it in a way that can never come back on any of us. You don’t need my rage. You do need me though.”
“I don’t want to.”
“Because you think I’ll let you down again.” It wasn’t a question.
“Because I don’t want to love anyone again,” she admitted.
First off, I have a feeling that if you’re a fan of this series, you’ll really enjoy reading this book. Other series characters all over here, and who doesn’t love seeing favorite characters pop up outside of their own books? If you’re new to the series, though, no problem–you won’t necessarily know who everyone is and you definitely won’t know their backstories (seeing one character’s “husbands” mentioned momentarily threw me…) but you don’t need to. Protectedcould definitely serve as your intro to the series.
Genny and Wade’s story is a second chance at love story, mixed with a healthy dose of romantic suspense. Trigger warning–Genny’s ex was abusive; he’s not in here a whole lot but he does play his parts. Her ability to heal and move on is dealt with nicely here, though probably because of the shortened novella format we don’t see a lot of it on the page. I really liked the idea of the dual groups for survivors and their partners that they participated in, though–I hope that that is something that really exists and not solely products of the author’s imagination, because it seems like a great idea.
The story itself does have some snags, though–for one, Genny’s son Ash neither talks nor acts like a thirteen-year-old for much of the book, which had a tendency to pull me out of the story momentarily when he was on the page. Even kids who have to grow up too fast are still kids underneath and don’t adopt PBS drama-esque speech patterns. Secondly, Wade went pretty fast from hating Genny for fifteen years to wanting to be with her forever (not to mention how fast she goes from pulling a gun on him to moving in with him and bringing her child)–toward the end he even thinks the following:
How could she think what he felt for her was guilt? He was crazy about her. He always had been. Well, except for all those years when he hated her. When he’d left her alone.
Again, “those years” was fifteen of them. “Always” means the year or so they dated in high school, plus the few weeks that they’ve been back together, I guess? Not too hard to see why it might be a little hard to jump right on board the forever train, there…fortunately he pulls his head out of his butt eventually. But that right there shows how self aware he isn’t for a decent chunk of the story.
Still, this could definitely stand as an intro to the series for those who are new. The group’s club that Wade’s the Dom in residence for–Sanctum–is barely even a blip here. It’s mentioned and he goes there once or twice to do some paperwork, but I think that’s about it. The book’s focus is more on Genny and Wade and the security part of the business he works in, which with the issues she’s having with her ex, definitely takes up enough page time.
Rating: 3 stars / C
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the author:
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.