Tuesday, January 17, 2023

HelenKay Dimon - Leave Me Breathless

According to Judge Bennett Walker, trying to kill him is a dumb idea. They might make him wear a big black nightgown to work, but it covers a lot of muscles, and he's definitely packing beneath it. He's also an ex-prosecutor and an ex-GI Joe. So when his brother brings in Callie Robbins to protect him, Ben has a few issues. First, he doesn't need a bodyguard. Second, she's a 130-pound girl--more smoking hot than smoking gun. And third, what if his body wants her guarding the night shift?
Callie has no problem brushing aside Ben's disbelief. She left the FBI to escape the boys' club, but she can be deeper undercover and twice as lethal as any beefy John Doe. As for whether someone's after Bennett or not, the death threats and car bombs look pretty convincing to Callie. Of course, she might get distracted, sitting inches from the sexiest judge in DC for ten hours a day. Keeping him safe is no picnic. Keeping it professional--that might be impossible.

Comment: I've had this one in the pile since 2018. I was convinced by the opinion of one or two people somewhere about the fact this would be about a couple with a sort of reverse role, the woman is the bodyguard and the man is the one being protected. I was curious to see how the author would present and develop the dynamics between the protagonists...

Judge Ben Walker is considered one of the most interesting ones in the courthouse but not everyone agrees and he is attacked. He believes this was a mistake, after all, isn't he ex military and prosecutor, everyone would know about his skills... but his brother Matt doesn't want to leave any chances to whoever has done it and might do it again, so he hires Callie Robbins, a former FBI agent, now freelancer, to give a hand while Ben is at work. Matt also picks someone to keep an eye on Emma, another judge and friend of the Walkers,, who got caught in the mess.

Callie and Ben are at odds right from the start and Ben can't help but be attracted to Callie and to her personality.. she doesn't avoid saying what's on her mind unlike so many others and they soon realize their animosity can have another name... but will whoever is after Ben stop because of the new bodyguards or will the problems escalate instead?

It's always interesting to see role reversal in a relationship. Sometimes it's not easy to envision but I was quite eager to see it happen here and immediately imagined Ben and Callie would try to be professional and stick to their own beliefs in how to do their jobs while battling attraction until it would be impossible. How a romance reader dreams and creates too high expectations...!

What I dreamed of was, indeed, what happened, but not with the angst or the slow falling in love between them while they tried to maintain professionalism.. no, very quickly after they started working together - sort of, since Ben is reluctant at first - they decide they have to give in to their attraction. I understand the author did things this way because this is meant to be a sexy story and because they are described as being driven and assertive and not shy about what they want, but... for a romance I felt this was way too quick and there was a huge lack of depth on their personalities before they started having sex.

This means that, for me, the story lost appeal and interest and from a certain point on I kept reading just to finish and have one less book as a "chore". Ben and Callie started being together very often but the personal things they shared about one another, as an attempt to show us how they were becoming close emotionally, didn't work very well in my opinion because this happened from time to time and in a very obvious way, not really as if it was a natural part of their conversations or relationship.

The "romance" became predictable and a little annoying when Callie finally shares why she isn't an FBI agent anymore. I thought she could have been much more cautious in her decisions after that... which leads me to think that, apart from their intimacy, the whole bodyguard/client relationship wasn't much of a big deal. I don't think the author presented this in a very professional way, even when something related to the case was happening, such as when they were investigated possible culprits. There's this continuous sense of just getting the steps done without proper expertise or even competence by them.

I don't even need to say the story is wrapped up in a predictable way as well, and the end is simple. The HEA does happen but I wasn't emotionally invested so I felt it was just OK, There's also a secondary love story about Matt and Emma, but it was't that great either, especially when one compares with or thinks of similar plots in other books or work.

All things considered, the writing and plot (and characterization) choices left a lot to be desired. I think this is a small, readable book yes, but I do prefer more in romance and in character development.
Still, one less book in the pile.
Grade: 5/10

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