My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Romances normally aren’t the type of book that interests me, they seem to be all over the charts for Amazon’s Kindle, and it’s hard not to find one in the list.
I almost went past it, but this one had a really intriguing description, so I decided to break my rule about guy-meets-girl romances and give it a shot.
Before I get into my impressions, here’s the description that the book was shipped with on Amazon’s Kindle section.
“Callie Summer, CEO of the Four Seasons lingerie business, is in shock. She’d expected her new PA to be a middle-aged frump, but Jean turns out to be Gene, and he’s neither middle-aged, nor anything like a frump. When the gorgeous Bond-lookalike insists he’ll be the perfect companion on her business trip around the country, Callie agrees to give him a trial. Having recently found her ex in bed with another woman, she’s not looking for love. But a little bit of private lusting never did anyone any harm.
“Once a military journalist with the New Zealand Army, Gene now runs his own security firm. Hired by Callie’s mother, Phoebe, to secretly protect her daughter after Phoebe receives death threats against her family, Gene finds his work cut out for him. Callie’s as delectable as she is infuriating, and his urge to seduce her fights with his duty to keep her safe.
“It’s not long before they give in to their passion, and the weather isn’t the only thing that turns hot and sultry as they travel further north. But Gene can’t keep his identity a secret from Callie forever. And when an attempt is finally made on her life, the truth threatens to break them apart.”
Though the title character Calinda Summers is based out of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, this book actually crossing the entire nation, as Calinda, known by her shortened name of “Callie” embarks on a tour of New Zealand from Dunedin to Christchurch, all the way up to Auckland.
At the start of the book, Callie (26) is looking for a new personal assistant to help keep her chaotic business life in check while her regular Becky is off for a three month maternity leave. Her friend and business partner Neve recommends Gene (32), who Callie mistakes prior to the meeting to be “Jean”, a woman.
Gene, as we learn quickly from his perspective during the story, is a former member of the New Zealand Army who’s formed his own private security firm. He is contacted by Phoebe Hawke, Callie’s mother, to protect her daughter and pose as her intern because a gangster that lawyer Hawke put away for a decade has gotten out and threatened her and her daughter’s life while going on a killing spree to punish everyone responsible for putting him away for six years (he got out early).
The two are attracted to each other from the beginning, and their interactions drip with sexual tension when Callie and Gene (posing as her PA, not as a protection agent) embark on her tour of the South and North Islands to sell managers of lingerie and clothing stores on carrying her and her 3 friends’ brand of lingerie and women’s wear.
The two travel from Dunedin to Christchurch, and then back to Wellington without a hitch embarking on a successful tour where only one store doesn’t actually take Callie’s products, and the sexual tension is finally broken in Christchurch, where they finally kiss before things proceed to outright sex a few nights later.
Meanwhile, the gangster has killed several people, and embarking on the North Island tour, Gene, as Phoebe’s client, has to balance his and Callie’s attraction to each other with his job to protect her and not disclose that he’s actually a hired bodyguard, as he fears that it will strain his relationship with her and force her to shove him aside, as she is dismissive to the threats against her mother and the risk it poses to her personally.
In Auckland, we finally learn the truth of the relationship between Phoebe and Gene, which had been on my mind for ages by this point. Why did the CEO of a security firm take a personal job instead of delegating it to someone he employs?
As it turns out, when Phoebe left her husband and was assaulted by him, the then-lieutenant Gene who was posted with her husband and Callie’s father, had helped her out afterwards, and she felt she could trust him and they had a preexisting relationship.
Phoebe has always carried the pretense that she was the reason the relationship broke so that Callie wouldn’t look down on her father, and with the threat to Callie increasing from indirect threats to direct threats via messages to Phoebe from the gangster’s associates, she instructs Gene to come clean about his duty as a personal protection agent and how he knows Phoebe.
Callie, ever astute like Sherlock Holmes, had already deduced that he was a bodyguard when she read his teeline shorthand notes and found a threat assessment taken, and she kept Gene around anyway, but didn’t tell him she was aware of what he was doing there.
In an exciting and climatic conclusion to the story, two accomplices of the gangster attempt to attack Gene and Callie in Auckland. By this point, Gene is openly working with and coordinating PPOs he employs with his company and has a few men and a woman with him because he doesn’t have to conceal his identity to Callie. In Auckland, as Gene and Julia disarm and subdue one enemy, a second turns a gun on Gene, and Callie — out of love for Gene — instinctively pushes him aside despite his wearing a bullet-proof vest and takes a bullet to the shoulder, rather than letting her lover and protector take the bullet he was positioning himself to take.
The story ends with her saying to Gene in the hospital afterwards how she loves him, and them a month later at an Easter event for her friends’ kids, where they declare their love and say that they want to be together.
I”m not going to lie, I thought I’d hate this book as a cliche erotica (most of which are horribly written), but while there’s plenty enough graphic sex to warrant notice to those who wouldn’t be interested in such material, it’s actually a very good book, and I’m impressed with it. It had its romantic aspects, but it also had this tense thriller perspective at times when we saw chapters from Gene’s perspective, along with plenty of witty-ish humor.
From what I can gather, there are four books, one apparently for each of the friends who founded “Four Seasons”, the lingerie company Callie was touring on behalf of. Do I like this one enough to buy the other ones? I’m not quite sure. Falling in love with a personal bodyguard was an interesting idea, and I’m not sure how the other three characters (who didn’t strike me as interesting in the story) will work out as far as interesting plots go… And, those are paid whereas I got this one only because it was free.
Still, it was a good romance book, and amazingly enough, despite not caring for romances much, I just might give it another read someday when I’m bored.