Protected by Lexi Blake ~ Sarah A’s Review

Their first chance at love ended in heartbreak

Wade Rycroft fell in love with Geneva Harris when she was the smartest girl in his class. The rodeo star and the shy academic made for an odd pair, but their chemistry was undeniable. They made plans to get married after high school. Those plans changed when Genny broke his heart. Joining the Army gave him a chance to leave that life behind. News that Genny married the town’s golden boy let Wade know that he could never go home again.

A chance encounter rekindles an old flame

Fifteen years later, he’s found his place in the world and tried to forget the woman who left him standing in the rain. After leaving the Army he forged a new life as a bodyguard at McKay-Taggart, but he still feels incomplete. When his brother’s wedding brings him home to Broken Bend, Texas, he walks into a storm of scandal. Genny’s marriage has dissolved, the town has turned against her, and someone is making threats. Seeing her again reawakens feelings he thought were long gone, and he worries that staying close enough to help her could be too much to bear.

Their reunion just might kill them both

After an attempt is made on Genny’s life, Wade can’t refuse to help her. Watching over her day and night, it’s clear that having her back in his life could be the thing to finally make him whole. When the danger follows them back to Dallas, their second chance at love could be over before it even begins.

***  Amazon Exclusive ~ Will release on other retailers on October 29, 2018  ***

Protected was a great second-chance romance from Lexi Blake.  She always delivers excellent romantic suspense novels, and it was wonderful to finally get the last story from the bodyguards in her crossover collection, Wade Rycroft.

One of my favorite things about Ms. Blake’s stories is how strong and feisty her female characters are.  Even when they have been through some of the most horrific things a human can experience, there is always a spark of fortitude that peeks through all the broken pieces, and Geneva was no exception to that pattern.  She was fierce, and I loved her so much.  She had sacrificed everything she’d ever known or wanted to protect the people she loved, knowing she may never find any reward for her actions.  Wade, when he finally learned the life Geneva had been living wasn’t of her own choosing, was kindness and atonement.  He was everything I hoped he could be in light of what Geneva had been through, and I was so happy to see him treat her so well.

While I adored how quickly Geneva and Wade first rekindled their relationship, I was so glad to see them all take the steps they needed to in order to find healing and forgiveness for all the stuff they’d gone through in the fifteen years they’d been apart.  That part of their journey was so important and gave them such an important foundation to build their future on.  Becoming independently strong and unencumbered by the lies and manipulations they’d suffered in the past allowed them to construct an impenetrable and healthy partnership.

I only wish this book had been a full-length novel.  The story was complete, but I would have LOVED to have seen more of their relationship when they were kids, and I definitely would have loved to see more of them between the resolution of the issues at hand and the epilogue.  I just wanted more of them together.  Period.

Protected in a novella, billed as book 16.5 in Lexi Blake’s Masters & Mercenaries series.  These books are all interconnected standalone, each focusing on a different couple.  There are references to other stories in the series in this book, but they are used to garner interest in the series and do not detract from the understanding or enjoyment of this story.  Protected is written in third-person limited perspective, alternatively following Geneva and Wade’s thoughts.

Lexi Blake is my guilty pleasure author.  I read everything she releases as soon as I can get my hands on it.  Her stories are always deep and satisfying, with wonderful emotional connections between her characters and lots of action and suspense.  Her books always leave me wanting to go back to the beginning and lose myself in her world for weeks on end.

“Don’t. Don’t tell me how to feel. I know you’ve worked through this, but I don’t know how to.”

“It helps to admit that we were all children back then.”

“My mother wasn’t.” He needed to talk about this with her.

“No, but she wasn’t the same after your dad died. She was lost and I’ve forgiven her,” she replied quietly. “You can’t spend your life being angry.”

“You’re angry with me.”

For a moment he thought she would ignore him. Then she turned to him, her eyes shining in the moonlight. “Maybe. It’s hard to figure out how I feel about you. For a long time, I dreamed about you at night. You were the only man I ever loved. Brock killed that. I think he might have killed the part of me that can love someone other than my son. I didn’t feel a lot when my father passed. But then he was the one who told me to suck it up. I went to him after Brock hit me the first time. He told me to not make my husband mad.”

“Genny, he should have killed him. I would have. God, I should have.” That sorrow that had been building inside him threatened to spill over. Anger was there, but it was overshadowed by the terrible pain he felt at the thought of her being alone and afraid.

“It’s funny,” she said, studying him in the silvery light. “I went over pretty much every possible scenario I could, and this wasn’t the way I thought you would handle it. It’s why it took forever for me to talk to you. I thought you would either not care at all or that you would be so angry you went after everyone. I hesitated because I thought I might unleash a beast.”

He could give her this. Since the moment he’d learned the truth, he’d genuinely forced himself to think about how he reacted. It would be selfish to act out in anger when she needed him to be calm, to think about what was best for her. The drive from Broken Bend to Dallas with Ash had made that clear to him. They needed someone who would thoughtfully protect them, not a raging animal who fed his own needs. “You’ve had enough anger in your life. It’s there. God, it’s there, but I swear I won’t act on it because I won’t do anything that could hurt you. I’ll try to handle him in every legal way I can and if I have to take him out, I’ll do it in a way that can never come back on any of us. You don’t need my rage. You do need me though.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Because you think I’ll let you down again.” It wasn’t a question.

“Because I don’t want to love anyone again,” she admitted.

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog int eh world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.

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