There’s nothing more he wants than to complete his mission so he can be rid of the smartass tomboy, Lily.
Day after day, Nox watches Lily and her strange ways. She’s unlike any woman he’s ever met.
Getting close to the girl is purely for her own protection…right?
Lily never imagined she’d make her first real friends in captivity.
What lengths would she go through to keep them?
I have to thank the author on this one. If she hadn’t put that warning in her blurb (“this is NOT a dark romance”), I never would’ve read this. I would’ve assumed by the cover and the title that this was either some kind of 50 shades, BDSM thing or something dark and gritty. I don’t do dark anymore, folks. I get enough dark from real life, The Walking Dead and The 100. Frankly, I just don’t need it in my romance novels. But because the author had a psychic moment and decided to warn me not to judge a book by its cover and title, I was able to enjoy this little gem of a romantic comedy/light romantic suspense.
I was fully prepared to dislike Lily. In many books where the plot hinges on the hero protecting the heroine (particularly a young heroine), the heroine often displays symptoms of TSTL (too stupid to live) syndrome. Can’t even count the number of heroines I’ve read about who run from their protectors because “he can’t tell me what to do” (*heroine stomps foot like an over-indulged toddler*), even though there’s a stalker/serial killer/gang member/mafia hitman after her. That didn’t happen with Lily. True, she had one escape attempt, but that was before she knew the whole story of who the hero was and what he was protecting her from. At that point in the story, she really had no idea she in danger from anyone other than the dude who’d just kidnapped her, so I couldn’t fault her for that attempt. I most likely would’ve done the same thing in her place. Hell, she was even spunky enough to learn some self-defense moves from her protector, so I was pleasantly surprised by how supremely likeable Lily was. It helps tremendously that her inner dialogue is often laugh-out-loud funny.
"I swear this guy must've been conceived through backdoor action. There's no way being that much of an asshole is natural.."
Nox was everything a romance hero needs to be (in my humble opinion, at least): strong, self-assured, slightly befuddled by the heroine, and toeing the line between romantic and dirty in the bedroom. His confidence was sexy as hell. I’d let him, um, guard me anytime.
But this book isn't just laughs and hot sex (though there’s plenty of both). There are also tons of beautiful moments. The fact that they aren’t overly flowery or dramatic makes them all the more powerful.
“I never realized how much I hate my life. Not until he showed me beautiful.”
All in all, this book was the perfect storm of romance novels: well-written with likeable, engaging characters, plenty of laughs mixed in with sexy times and enough heartfelt, heart-melting moments to engage even the most cynical reader. In short: it’s a winner, folks. Get thee to thy Kindles immediately.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
Does it come dangerously close to fitting into the “romance novels are unrealistic” part of the myth? Maybe. But it’s so well-written I don’t mind, and neither will you. The romance between the main characters feels genuine, even if the plot is sometimes a little farfetched.
Other reading suggestions
For light-hearted, funny “protector” reads, try Jennifer Crusie’s Getting Rid of Bradley and Rachel Gibson’s Sex, Lies and Online Dating. For a funny “captive” story, try Christie Craig’s Divorced, Desperate and Delicious. If you’re into dark and twisted “captive” stories, try Skye Warren and Annika Martin’s Prisoner. (Note about Prisoner: when I say it’s dark, I mean it’s DARK. Dubious consent and true captivity are involved. It’s beautifully written and sexy, though, with a happy ending.) For a darker “protector” story, try Predator by Michelle Horst. (Note about Predator: this one should include trigger warnings for rape. The hero is not involved in the rape, though. Thank God.)