Title: Risking Trust (Private Protectors #3)
Author: Adrienne Giordano
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 7, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
I’ve really been enjoying Adrienne Giordano’s Private Protectors series. I’m not usually a fan of romantic suspense, but her books are a lot of fun and full-o-the-smexy! Risking Trust is the third novel published in the series, but it’s set before the first novel, Man Law. I absolutely loved the hero of Man Law (see my review), Vic Andrews, and he makes a few appearances to comedic effect in this prequel. I think Man Law remains my favorite of the three, but I love reunion romances, and Risking Trust really hits the mark.
As the novel begins, Roxann Thorgesson’s life is suddenly a lot more stressful than it was a month ago. Her father recently died of a heart attack, leaving her in charge of the family owned newspaper, and her ex-lover has just been accused of murdering his wife, Alicia. Michael Taylor and Alicia had been involved in a nasty divorce for over two years, so when she’s murdered, he’s the first suspect. When it becomes clear that the police aren’t planning on looking any further than Alicia’s soon-to-be ex-husband, Michael offers his former lover Roxann exclusive access to his story if she’ll have the newspaper investigate the murder. Roxann’s reluctant to have anything to do with Michael after he broke her heart 12 years ago, but she realizes that if they can solve the mystery, the paper will have a major scoop. Trouble is, it soon becomes clear that Alicia’s murder isn’t a random act of violence, and the more they investigate, the higher the cover-up of her death goes. Roxann knows Michael’s innocent, but can she prove his innocence before the murderer sets his sights on her?
I love that Ms. Giordano writes such strong heroines. In the prior two books, the heroines had strong personalities, and the heroes loved them because of that strength. Roxann is no exception, and as a former gold medal Olympic runner, she’s also physically fit. But Roxann is particularly vulnerable emotionally because of the recent death of her beloved father. She’s trying to deal with her grief by focusing on work, but Michael’s reappearance in her life creates more emotional distress. Fortunately he quickly proves that he’s there to support Roxann in everything, even if he’s undergoing a difficult time as well.
Michael is a sexy and appealing hero, and he too has his vulnerabilities. I like that while all three of the male leads in Ms. Giordano’s novels are alpha males working in the security business, they still appreciate the strong female protagonists, even if those heroes have their sexist moments. Michael owns his security firm, but he has a lot of respect for Roxann and her career in the newspaper industry. He definitely screwed up when he left Roxann all those years ago, and his marriage was a disaster, mainly because he was still in love with Roxann, but he works hard to redeem himself. He’s very swoon-worthy!
As for Michael’s almost ex-wife, Alicia, she’s a strong presence in the novel. I’m not particularly fond of romances featuring the horrible ex, and frankly Alicia is over the top. Her murder sets up all the action of the novel and reunites the lovers, so she’s a necessary part of the novel, but I’m not sure she had to be such a slut for the book to work. This is a personal preference, though, because I’ve grown tired of this particular trope, so keep that in mind.
My only other criticism is that towards the end it becomes easy for the reader to spot the villain, yet Roxann continually trusts this character. There are obvious reasons why she does so, but a few of her decisions border on too stupid to live, which bothered me. I suspect that the problem is more that the villain is too obvious to us, because given Roxann’s emotional state and all that’s going on with the murder investigation, it’s not hard to see why she would continue to trust that character.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the novel, and I highly recommend it. I hope that the books sell well enough as ebooks that they’ll be published in paperback in the future, as Ms. Giordano writes taut thrillers with sexy romance. I’m all in favor of strong female characters, and I’ve been pleased to find them in her novels.