Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guarding Jess by Shannon Curtis *ARC Review*

Jessica Pennington's work as an etiquette coach requires her to be polite and proper at all times, especially now that she has a book coming out. The only thing that rattles her reserve is the increasingly violent emails and texts from her persistent stalker. With the book launch in jeopardy, she reluctantly hires a bodyguard.

Noah Samuels hates stuck-up, prim people like Jessica. He's more the blunt, straightforward type. But to advance up the ranks at McCormack Security, he has to take the high-profile assignment. After a near miss on his first day on the job, Noah realizes that the stalker isn't just hype cooked up to sell books—the threat is real.

As the stalker escalates from letters to letter bombs, Noah sees a vulnerable side of Jessica that rouses more than just his protective instincts. But can she let down her guard long enough to trust Noah before it's too late?

I didn't love the description of this, sounded too much like the alphole Harlequin novels of my past, but it ended up being a very nice read! From the beginning readers get to be in the heads of both Jessica and Noah and for me it makes the story that much better. Without a character's motivation their actions can be a bit of a mystery - figuring out why the HEA works can turn into too much work for me or even less meaningful.

Luckily it's not a concern here. We're quickly introduced to Jessica and Noah, who's been hired to solve the mystery of Jessica's escalating-in-intensity stalker. There are sparks right from the start, though both are of course determined to keep things on a professional level. It's hard to do that though when you've got a well mannered man moving into your house for god knows how long to make sure no one hurts you. 

As any good suspense novel should, Curtis keeps the reader guessing about who the stalker actually is. There are plenty of options floating around and when it literally could be anyone, what can you do? I've only got a few quibbles with the story and it's ending - first of all I knew how the stalker was getting in by what felt like the second chapter. I don't want to spoil anything, but come on guys, you're the professionals so let's use our brains here. Second when things with the stalker really started escalating it all seemed to be rushed near the end of the novel. Suddenly things got very violent with 'final consequences' and I wasn't prepared for it at all. I think the romance elements that had been taking up the bulk of the story lulled me into a false sense of comfort and then I out of the blue I couldn't count on anything. Still even with all that the HEA was satisfying, and the only thing I left wishing for was more time with Jessica and Noah so I could read further about  their recovery from the stalker's path of destruction.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 1) Viper's Kiss 2) Guarding Jess (5/14/2012)

**Title requested from NetGalley**