Barbara Dunlop generally writes for the Harlequin Desire line. However, this book is so not a Desire book. It’s an Intrigue, and a damned good one at that.
The cover is utterly, totally misleading. A man in a suit is holding a toddler. I can’t recall one instance of the hero of this book, Troy, wearing a suit, and in any case, it’s not his usual attire. Why on earth didn’t they put this book where it belongs and get Dunlop a bunch of adoring Intrigue fans? I started reading this book, thinking it was about a billionaire and a woman who, while feisty, was definitely a woman. That isn’t what I got.
Now to the story.
Troy co-owns a security company, Pinion, and it’s a tad more realistic than most in the Harlequin line, with one big exception. It doesn’t employ women. After losing a female operative, they decided not to employ any more. To say this is unusual for a big security company is a huge understatement. These days women are essential to any company claiming any kind of expertise. It was done, of course, as a plot point, so that the heroine could make an impact on Troy and prove to him that she is worthy.
Mila is twenty four and very good at what she does, which is security, bodyguarding in particular. She takes charge of Troy’s sister, Kassidy, who has a rising singing career, and is being bothered by a stalker. Kassidy also has a baby, not hers, but a friend’s, who subsequently died.
There are some nice twists in this story, and while I guessed at most, there is one that gives the story a nice boost later on.
Troy is a great hero, except for his uncharacteristic blindness where women employees are concerned. That is a big flaw in his character, and Dunlop had to work hard to make it seem believable. At times my credulity was strained a little too far, but I let it pass because I was enjoying the story. He’s a big, tough man, but like a lot of big, tough men, he isn’t macho about it. He doesn’t see the need. I really like that about him, and it’s one of the reasons I kept reading. He has a professional attitude to his job, too, which is nice.
Mila is a good heroine, and although tough women who know how to handle themselves but have to prove themselves to the boss can be a bit of a pain, she’s fine. She knows what she is capable of and she is confident in her own skin. I enjoyed taking the journey with her.
Mila and Troy’s journey to love is a good one, and it’s skilfully entwined with the external plot about Kassidy and the baby. Kassidy is a secondary character who actually has something to do in the story, although she is a bit of a Miley Cyrus (not all the way!) or a Taylor Swift. That might be a plus to some readers. Enough hints are dropped about future couples in the books to be interesting – I’m less interested in Kassidy and Vegas, but more keen to read about Mila’s sister and her rebellious judge.
I would recommend this book, but don’t expect a typical Harlequin Desire from this. It’s a romantic suspense that would fit perfectly into the Intrigue line, together with an action subplot that’s enjoyable to read.
Troy Keiser won’t hire a woman, no matter how skilled—or beautiful—for the dangerous work of his elite security firm. Plus, there’s no way he could keep his hands off Mila Stern! But when his sister and infant nephew need protection, Troy offers Mila a job…as a caretaker for them both.
Mila doesn’t know much about kids, but she’ll learn if it means Troy hiring her for more than this assignment. But as she falls for the baby—and her sexy boss!—she uncovers a secret about the boy in her care that could change everything…
Read an excerpt.