Author: Piper J. Drake

Deadly Testimony by Piper L. Drake

Deadly Testimony by Piper L. DrakeDeadly Testimony by Piper J. Drake
Series: Safeguard #2
Published by Carina Press on May 9th 2016
Pages: 213
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two-stars

The stakes have never been higher as an elite team member must outwit a dangerous killer and save the man she's sworn to protect. The second installment of the exhilarating Safeguard series from Piper J. Drake.
Kyle Yeun didn't start out bad and he doesn't intend to end his life while on the wrong side of the law, either. His testimony to his former employer's environmental misdeeds has earned him a protection detail compliments of the US government. But due to a dark international conspiracy Kyle was unaware of, his former employers have made ending his life a top priority. Realizing he needs more protection than the US Marshals can provide, he turns to Safeguard after seeing the beautiful, deadly Lizzy Scott in action.
One look at Kyle, and sniper Lizzy Scott knows this isn't going to be an easy protection job. He's arrogant, irritating and almost irresistible. Instead of being put off by her hardened attitude, Kyle seems to thrive off the challenge. And she's slowly giving in to his charms.
After narrowly escaping the latest assassination attempt, Lizzy starts taking dangerous risks to keep him safe. But the last thing Kyle wants is another life ruined because of his actions. He found his redemption in Lizzy's arms and he'll risk everything to make sure they both make it out alive. As will she, even if it means walking away from him to keep him safe.
Book two of the Safeguard series
This book is approximately 72,000 words

Piper Drake takes on the protector/target relationship with a twist, pairing a man in need of professional protection with an ex-military, no-nonsense woman when he finally decides to rat on a company with questionable practices – and risks his life in the process.

Even while writing this review, I’m not too sure what to say about a story that I’d expected to be a bit more straightforward in setting, action and adventure. Perhaps the best way to put it is that ‘Deadly Testimony’ is a wordy read, with every action explained, questioned and drawn out with some odd almost-Victorian-English turn of phrases (“Ah, the woman was delightfully uncommon”, “Your thought process is singularly unique”) between both the main characters, which is atypical of a suspense novel.

What strikes me immediately is the sheer amount of…forced diplomacy in the dialogue – sometimes superfluous even – when both characters try for an almost intellectual, near-academic politeness to explain away their own and each other’s behaviour: for Kyle’s womanising ways (‘active lifestyle’, ‘companions’, ‘pleasure of entertaining close friends’), his use of escorts, or even Isabelle’s brusqueness and her difficulty in working with anyone but herself for instance. Character-wise, Drake gives us hints of some depth to Kyle’s smarmy arrogance and vain, hedonistic personality but I couldn’t quite see past the superficial veneer enough to like him as a romantic hero. The insistence on remaining vapid and shallow even as he eggs Isabella on because of their mutual attraction felt more sleazy than anticipatory and the manipulative manner with which he does it is (player)admirable but ultimately off-putting.

Consequently, I couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for Isabelle and Kyle as a pairing; not only are they drawn together by the adrenaline and danger in the few days that they spend in and out of the bedroom, but what hit me time and again was their incompatibility despite the constant, overriding cliché that opposites can attract espoused in too many romantic suspense novels.

two-stars

Hidden Impact by Piper J. Drake

Hidden Impact by Piper J. DrakeHidden Impact by Piper J. Drake
Series: Safeguard #1
Published by Carina Press on November 9th 2015
Pages: 183
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two-stars

As part of the elite Centurion Corporation team, military-veteran-turned-mercenary Gabriel Diaz is a natural defender. He'll do anything to ensure a mission is successful. Anything but get emotionally invested—he learned the hard way that can be deadly. Easy bodyguard jobs in between the more challenging missions are all he's interested in now. Maylin Cheng is desperate and running out of time. Her younger sister has gone missing but no one seems to take her concern seriously. Her last hope lies in asking an aloof bodyguard for help. He dismisses her outright, but all that changes when she is almost killed in a not-so-accidental hit-and-run right before his eyes. As Maylin leans on Gabriel, she begins to rely on him for more than just her safety. But as their attraction grows, so does the danger surrounding them. When the elaborate web they're trapped in unravels, Gabriel will do anything to protect them. Even if that means putting his heart in the crosshairs.

In a nutshell: girl goes missing, girl’s sister desperately approaches a random bodyguard for help. Bodyguard helps grudgingly, discovers a bigger conspiracy in place. Girl’s sister and bodyguard somewhat fall in love. Bodyguard’s vengeful ex-lover returns to make life spicier. And yes, food plays a large part.

But still, this was all…a little odd. I struggled quite a bit with the book, even though the writing itself wasn’t bad. The weird Chinese phrases peppering Maylin’s speech (some had odd spelling and characters – I actually know the language a little, so I’m not speaking out of my arse here) were equally distracting and not entirely necessary. Character-wise, on their own, Maylin and Gabe were alright; together, their relationship felt more like CO and subordinate and frankly, I couldn’t really get into their connection. Motivations weren’t fully teased out by the end as some clichéd ridden behavioural traits made themselves known in the villainous ex.

Cooking and food – Maylin’s passion – played an equally big a part here as the suspense portion did and I’ll freely admit being more curious about the former than the latter, to the point where I actually checked out the recipe for making noodles from scratch. But that probably isn’t the point, is it?

two-stars