To high-end defense attorney Henry Garrison, Win Hughes is a woman he met during one of the most trying times of his life. She’s soft and warm, and he finds solace in their brief relationship. But Win has a secret. She’s actually Taylor Winston-Hughes—born to one of the wealthiest families in the country, orphaned as a child by a tragic accident. Win moves in the wealthiest circles, but her lavish lifestyle hides her pain.
When her best friend is murdered in the midst of a glittering New York gala, Win’s charged with the crime, and the only person in the world she wants to see is Henry.
Henry is shocked at the true identity of his lover, but he can’t reject the case. This case could take his new firm into the stratosphere. Still, he’s not getting burned by Win again. And yet every turn brings them closer together.
As the case takes a wild turn and Win’s entire life is upended, she must look to the people she’s closest to in order to find a killer. And Henry must decide between making his case and saving the woman he loves…
Just when I was sure I knew exactly what to expect from a Lexi Blake book, she released Order of Protection and completely blew all my assumptions to pieces. The one thing that didn’t change at all was how addictive this story was, I was completely pulled in and couldn’t stop thinking about what was coming next for Win and Henry any time I had to put Order of Protection down.
Win was a force, she battled so much, been through so much, had so few people in her corner, but she never let any of that dim her light. I admired her strength to fight to get her life back, to make Henry see they were more than he wanted to admit, to be more than what the world had labeled her as. Henry was harder to love, he made it a battle for me to find his silver lining, but when I did, when I understood why he was so callous, my heart ached for him, and I wanted nothing more than for him to allow himself to find happiness.
My favorite part of this book was how Win and Henry understood each other. It came from such a painful place and could have easily destroyed them alone, but they allowed their struggles to strengthen them and their bond. I loved how, even when they were angry with one another, they did everything they could to ensure the demons that haunted them didn’t pull them under.
Order of Protection was quite a ride. From Win and Henry’s meet-cute to the final nitty-gritty reveals in the end, I couldn’t get enough of this book. There were so many different kinds of conflict in this novel, so many pitfalls the characters were trying to navigate; there seemed never to be a second where thing settled enough for me to find a comfortable place to rest. Lexi Blake kept her characters – and her readers – on their toes throughout this novel. It was a high-octane crime thriller with a beautiful love story mixed in.
My only wish for this book, and it’s a selfish one at that, would have been to have seen those first two weeks Win and Henry spent together. The story wasn’t lacking for not having it, but I loved these two together so much I would have loved to have seen more of the initial stages of their relationship.
Order of Protection is the first book in Lexi Blake’s Courting Justice series. This was a complete story and can be read as a standalone. There are connections to a few of Ms. Blake’s other series, though reading them is completely unnecessary to enjoy and understand this book. Order of Protection is written in third-person limited perspective, alternating between Win and Henry’s perspective.
Lexi Blake continues to impress me with her storytelling. As much as I love her usual fair of the world of BDSM, it was nice to have this departure from that and lean more toward vanilla. She did an excellent job of showing her versatility as an author by taking this foray into something her readers aren’t used to seeing from her, while still leaving her distinct voice in the pages and on the characters.
Henry glanced up at the clock. Two thirty p.m. Somehow he’d expected Win to show up bright and early this morning. He’d woken up and made a pot of coffee, and he’d gone over all the ways he would explain to her that this was a bad idea.
Because it was still a bad idea.
Alicia might have given in to Noah and Drew Lawless’s blackmail, but she would be back at some point. Then there was the fact that he dealt with unsavory clients on a daily basis. He took on high-profile cases and often got dragged through the mud along with the client.
There were plenty of people out there who hated him. Loathed him and despised the very fact that he existed and cheered if he failed. He was used to it. Sweet little Win was not and would be horrified.
So he was going to tell her how amazing their night together was and then turn her down gently.
Except she hadn’t shown up and that bugged the hell out of him.
She’d been the one to claim she would be here despite the fact that he’d told her not to come. She’d told him she didn’t care what he thought.
It was perverse, but if he’d had her number, he might have called and said a few things about setting expectations and then not meeting them.
He started another pot of coffee. This was completely foolish. She’d put some distance between the two of them and realized how little they had in common. At least one of them had some sense.
The scent of French roast hit the air and he realized he was pro-crastinating. He was putting off the moment when he had to step back into the city and face the music. He would have to work his ass off to find anyone who wanted to hire a lawyer with his tarnished reputation. It didn’t matter that his addiction issues had never cost a client a dime. The perception would be there, and perception was over half the battle in life.
He should pack up tonight and leave it all to the agent. It’s what he should have done yesterday, but he’d enjoyed spending time with David, showing him places on the island and telling him stories.
It was time to go home now. Time to forget about pretending to be someone he couldn’t afford to be anymore. Time to put away thoughts of quiet and peace and get back to being the Monster of Manhattan. That was the only way he was going to survive.
The Monster of Manhattan didn’t give in to urges. He plowed through all problems with a single-minded, ruthless intent. The Monster didn’t need attention, though he tended to get it. Attention didn’t matter to the Monster. Money mattered. Power mattered.
He would get them both back.
The Monster certainly didn’t need some do-gooder in his bed. He would select a woman, rationally discuss his needs with her, and pay her for her services, whether they be as a plus-one to gatherings or as a body in bed. That was how he would view it. Transactional.
Transactional was safe.
So he was going to stop being such a whiny asshole and be grateful that Win had some sense.
A knock broke through the quiet of the house.
He practically ran for the door.
He opened it and there was Win, standing in the soft light of the afternoon, her hair up in a ponytail. She was wearing denim shorts and a blousy, feminine shirt. She had a bag of groceries in one hand and what looked like a duffel in the other.
“I know you said I shouldn’t come back, but you’re wrong and I’m going to give you all my reasons why.”
He didn’t care. She was here. He walked straight up to her and cupped that pretty face in his hands and kissed her for all he was worth.
Fuck transactional. He wanted something real for once in his damn life.
When he came back up, he was rewarded with a soft look in her eyes, her lips curving into a small smile.
“No arguing with me?”
He did have some problems they should discuss. “You’re late.”
Her smile went brilliant. “I had some things to clear up. I thought if you didn’t mind, I might stay with you for a few nights.”
He took the bag of groceries out of her hand and led her inside. “I think that sounds like a great idea.”
“This is way easier than I thought it would be,” she admitted. “Have you had lunch? I could whip up some sandwiches and we could have a picnic.”
He stashed the grocery bag in the fridge. She set down her duffel, and that made it much easier to scoop her up and into his arms. “I know exactly what I want for lunch.”
Her eyes went wide, but she didn’t struggle at all. Her arms went around his shoulders as he carried her to the big bedroom.
It had been cozy in his old room, but he needed more space if she was going to live here with him for a few weeks.
He stopped at the edge of the big bed he’d had brought in after he’d inherited the place. It was the only room he’d redone, with the thought of spending long weekends with his friends up here. He never had managed the time, but now he was happy he’d spent the cash to do it because he could share it with her.
The last few weeks of being Henry before going back to the real world.
He set her down on the bed and pulled his shirt over his head. He wasn’t playing around this time. That was for later. It had been entirely too long since he’d had her.
He needed her.
He knew it was something he should question, even be slightly afraid of, but he didn’t care in the moment. All that mattered was she was here and he could put off any thoughts of letting her go for a few days. He could sink into her.
She was his reward for every crappy thing he’d been through in the last couple of years.
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.