When you forget you’ve already read books by an author and didn’t like them.
Plot: Hannah is a bodyguard working for an exclusive company that serves the ultra rich. She’s a tiny powerhouse looking for an opportunity to prove herself in time for a major promotion. Fortunately, the company has just been hired by a production company to provide protection for a movie star who is moving into the area to support his mother through cancer treatments. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want his sick mother to know that the studio is worried about some sad corgi-breeder that has been stalking him for several years. So how do they hide the quasi-militaristic team of people trying to keep him safe? Why, they have Hannah pretend to be his girlfriend. Shenanigans ensue.
It wasn’t until I had finished the book that I went back to my old reviews to check if I’d read anything by this familiar name, and I really should have done that much sooner. I am simply incompatible with Center’s writing and her preference for perfect heroes and inane heroines with no consistent characterization.
Jack is a gorgeous, filthy rich movie star, brilliant actor, devoted son, and aggressive philanthropist. He’s kind and smart and funny and is willing to take all kinds of abuse in the name of honour and whatever. He is a two dimensional modern Hercules. He has no character arc because a perfect character has no room for growth. Hannah on the other hand has plenty of room to grow, and partly that’s because as with Center’s other works, her heroine changes every chapter to fit whatever the story needs. The only real characterization Hannah gets is that of being a workaholic, only she isn’t. Her best friend lives in her building together they have sleep overs and dinners and movie nights, etc. She also makes terrible judgement calls on the job that put people in danger. And her best friend also pointlessly and cruelly betrays her for literally just some guy, repeatedly, in a way that makes absolutely no sense in context. Her boss is also all about the job, except for how he constantly makes business decisions based on a desire to punish his employees for what they do with their off time, even when these decisions (which are messed up as is) actively compromise jobs worth millions of dollars.
It’s lazy writing, which is so strange because there is obviously a ton of research that goes into these books. I guess she gets points for evolving to a point where the heroine isn’t actively shrugging off the massacre of hundreds of Indigenous people so I guess this is progress?
Also, any romance novel that is comfortable with bullet wounds but not on page sex scenes gets serious side eye from me. This is some puritan nonsense.
The narration by Patti Murin is great though. Well done, Patti.
TW: for constant gaslighting that is never resolved.