Published by St. Martin's Press on 19th July 2022
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She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka "bodyguard"), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.
He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.
They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.
What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.
Katherine Center defies my expectations of a bodyguard-book with this one. Where I’m pretty used to a high-stakes-high-tension plot, numerous men-in-black and action-filled scenes, ‘The Bodyguard’ is strangely one that inserts itself into the rom-com category with its first-person narrative that winds itself around a celebrity-stalker-situation.
The fake-relationship trope between Hannah Brooks and Jack Stapleton is one that’s cemented early on and the trajectory there onwards is a predictable and strangely sweet (and clean) one. Non-stop action, chest-heaving-sexual-tension and mutually electrifying looks are instead exchanged for somewhat idyllic settings in a ranch farm, some ongoing family struggles and some philosophical (rom-com-type) musings on what it means to love (others and self), on identity and keeping it real.
The rom-coms vibes shout loudly, but I wasn’t too sure what to make of it, to be honest, given that it wasn’t quite balanced against the stalker situation that was unfolding behind the scenes.
I thought there was some convincing gravitas lacking in this kind of story, but then again, I’m fairly used to and prefer stories that have the tension finely tuned up to a point until it breaks–which is probably the reason why I had a hard time taking Hannah, her annoying colleagues and the stalker situation all too seriously, more so as their issues revolve around best friend betrayal and moronic ex-es. Hannah’s bodyguard capabilities were something I thought I wanted to read more of, but those moments are rare and when they pop up, seemed out of place when Center tries to remind us of her training and skills.
The lightheartedness works overall, yet Center glosses over anything that has the potential to dive off the angsty end and in choosing to keep the more ‘sparkling’ bits on, made ‘The Bodyguard’ a little too fluffy for my liking.