The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas

The Protector by Jodi Ellen MalpasThe Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Published by Forever on September 6th 2016
Pages: 384
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People think they have Camille Logan nailed: daddy's girl; beautiful, spoiled young woman with her father's bank balance to fund her lifestyle. But Camille is determined to have a life free from his strings. Out on her own, she's made mistakes, including one that found her clawing her way back after a stint in rehab and plenty of bad press. Now, after fighting so hard to be independent and happy, she finds her life threatened as a result of her father's ruthless business dealings. Caught between resentment and fear, Camille prepares herself for the measures her father will take to protect her. But nothing could prepare her for the ex-SAS sniper who crashes into her life.
Jake Sharp resides in his own personal hell. He was distracted from duty once before, and the consequences were devastating--both personally and professionally. He vowed never to let that happen again. Accepting the job of bodyguard to Camille Logan isn't the kind of distraction from his demons he should take. Women and Jake don't mix well, yet protecting the heiress seems the lesser of two evils. But Jake soon discovers that she isn't the woman she's perceived to be. She's warm, compassionate, her presence settling, and his duty to protect her soon goes deeper than a well-paid job, no matter how hard he fights it. He needs absolution. He comes to need Camille. But he knows he can't have both.

Shades of ‘The Bodyguard’ resonate through this book and I’ll be the first to confess that the cover brought it all on. The ex-military, brooding bodyguard with a seemingly shallow socialite – and how both parties finally converge when they start on opposite end of the scale – isn’t a storyline I’ll say no to.

It’s my first book with this author and I’m impressed with J.E. Malpas’s clarity of writing from the start, as it immediately reminds me of Chanel Cleeton’s first person storytelling that’s sharply engrossing and deeply penetrating. With a credible suspense plot and enough action to keep the pages turning, ‘The Protector’ is entertaining insofar as you’re able to take in the soap-opera dramatic bits as well as characters who may or may not lie on your trigger faultlines – which they unfortunately did for me.

Jake Sharp is the tortured (anti)hero with a past that he cannot face and runs away from with work, drink and women, and is perhaps a lead character more reminiscent of the older romance books that I’ve come across when I was more naive and tolerant. In today’s terms though, ‘bastard’ would probably be a decent sum-up of his characteristics. Black-hearted and soulless with an appalling, self-absorbed attitude towards women that bordered on misogynistic, Jake teeters on the edge of control always, with violence so inherent in every move that his deception with Camille proved to be the last straw I could take in his supposed move for redemption towards the end.

Independent, compassionate and a little too trusting, Camille won me over quickly, despite the initial juvenile, self-indulgent impression I had of her. I sympathised loads as she was played like a pawn by both her father and Jake but her easy acceptance of the latter’s demons made me want to shake her for giving him that easy time. Their attraction can’t be disputed though – Malpas excels at their sexual tension and all the smut scenes – though I can’t help but think it’s more built on adrenaline and close proximity than it is on respect and truth, at least on Jake’s side because he simply can’t seem to get his cock under control each time he’s with Camille.

That ‘The Protector’ is a standalone is in itself a draw. With no cliffhangers, a near parody of a fairytale end, it’s a sweetly wrapped-up package that’s strangely not quite the norm these days. Yet the long and short of it is, I’m on the fence with this one, but that really has to do with my own issue with character than plot.