Monday, July 17, 2006
The Protector by Gennita Low
I keep a running TBR list, not pile, list. My book budget is quite small and my tolerance for clutter smaller. Unfortunately, a book title and author listed on a dull sheet of paper is little motivation. I usually refer to the list long after seeing the blurb or reader review that sparked my initial interest. Then I close my eyes, point my finger, blindly pick a title and head to my library’s website to see about getting it transferred to the nearest pick up location. Not very exciting.
I open the cover, read the first handful of pages and get sucked under. Love. That.
Such was the case with Gennita Low’s The Protector, first in a series with the same name. I can’t recall who recommended it, but thank you. My love for contemporary, suspense romance is limited only by the oh-so-few really good offerings in the genre. I particularly like those with a military theme, reducing the number of authors who do this well even further. Low excels from every angle and I am enjoying that giddiness that accompanies a great author find.
Blurb (which is way off the mark, IMO):
When the best of intentions gets Jazz arrested overseas, he couldn't be more surprised to find Vivi Verreau ready to spring him out of jail. Obviously more than the civilian she claims to be, he's sure Vivi is hiding an agenda ... and he's determined to stick by her side until he uncovers all her secrets.
A covert agent who shrouds herself in disguises, and who fearlessly jumps into dangerous situations without thoughts for her own safety, Vivi has no need for a protector. But if she is to have any hope of completing her most important mission, she'll have no choice but to recruit Jazz and his men.
Low does a few things I like with the hero. First, she does not portray him as stunningly handsome, with ladies falling about in his wake. Instead, she introduces him first by revealing his single most important charm—a bone-deep respect for women, instilled in him by his Momma and sisters. In the South. Louisiana to be specific. That charmed the pants off me right there. Then she added all the nuances of a competent military man. You know, he appears casual but is always alert to every detail around him. And he leads a team of SEALs, is revered by his men, highly decorated, never gets riled, and all that.
Second, Low lets him get away with those sexy, Cajun French endearments for the heroine. That charmed the rest of my clothes off. She also gives him that instinctive possessiveness and protectiveness romance readers crave. Then confuses us with the possibility that his best friend will subvert his efforts to win the girl. Made me nervous even though I’m smart enough to know that this was Jazz’s story and he would get the girl. Low effectively used this obstacle to show readers that Jazz was much more than the stereotypical alpha—“see woman, woman mine, I go get her now”. She actually gave him doubts. And instead of using brute male will, she wielded humor and finesse to get us to the HEA.
Third, Low gives us a competent heroine. Smart and an operative too. Really, Vivi does nothing that seems out of character or patently designed to support the romance portion of the story. Her own fears and doubts are poignant, but Low is careful not to burden Vivi so much that she needs a hero to step in and save her. What Vivi does need is an outlet for emotion. And that she finds in Jazz. Low gives us some beautifully emotional and extremely sexy scenes for this resolution.
Finally, Low weaves a believable, highly suspenseful story that is interesting and well balanced. No single element—romance, action, technical info, etc.—overwhelms another. That balance sets her apart. As does her ability to spark emotion and passion between her characters.
As this book does start a series, there were the expected secondary characters milling about with unfinished business. None were too distracting however—well, perhaps Vivi’s boss—and their actions contributed to this book’s storyline. In other words, Low did not waste readers’ time setting up the rest of the series. Until the end, where she finished with a bonafide cliffhanger. Liked that.
Looking forward to reading the rest of Low’s backlist, including the remainder of this series. And thanks again for the recommendation, whoever you are.