Reviewed by Helyce
From Goodreads: Leese Phelps’s road hasn’t been an easy one, but it’s brought him to the perfect job — working for the elite Body Armor security agency. And what his newest assignment lacks in size, she makes up for in fire and backbone. But being drawn to Catalina Nicholson is a dangerous complication, especially since it could be the very man who hired Leese who’s threatening her.
What Catalina knows could get her killed. But who’d believe the sordid truth about her powerful stepfather? Beyond Leese’s ripped body and brooding gaze is a man of impeccable honour. He’s the last person she expects to trust — and the first who’s ever made her feel safe. And he’s the only one who can help her expose a deadly secret, if they can just stay alive long enough.
Fans of Foster’s recent MMA series will be familiar with the character of Leese, who had previously aspired to be a fighter. But Leese knew that though he was good, he wasn’t quite good enough and after an inferred incident with his fighter friends, he moved on to a job that he is very, very good at. When he’s assigned to keep Cat Nicholson safe, he gets way more than he bargained for.
Cat is a spitfire of a girl. Pretty, smart, and hiding a very big secret which is why she is on the run. When Leese finds her, she’s attempting to get away from a man who she’d been staying with under the ruse of joining his commune (read: cult). When she realized he’d taken more of a liking to her and that he had certain expectations she tried to get away. Leese shows up just in time and easily removes her from that situation.
Leese’s job is simply to keep Cat safe. She’s not a prisoner, he won’t take her back to her step-father, she’s free to go, but if she leaves, he makes it clear that he will follow. Cat keeps up all her walls. She refuses to say anything and will not explain why she’s in hiding. But from the get go, Leese’s instincts tell him that her story is important.
After a close call with a man from Cat’s past, she realizes that she is completely alone and is going to have to trust Leese and Leese’s boss Sahara. She slowly begins to relate the incident that caused her to go into hiding. What is revealed is a seriously disgusting display of depravity by a group of wealthy men who believe themselves above the law. Cat is a witness and these men want her dead.
Lori Foster is an author who I have read for years. Her recent series have pulled me in and I have loved how they’ve rolled from one to the next with crossover characters and situations that seem to effortlessly give us what feels like one, long, continuing cohesive story. This new series begins with Leese Phelps who we actually met in her previous Ultimate series.
While I remember his name, I really don’t remember much about him from the previous series other than he hung out with the MMA fighters. I think this worked really well for me because I didn’t have to adjust to his new role of bodyguard. Other than the fact that he has mad fighting skills, his abilities and demeanor scream confidence. Leese is the top bodyguard in the Body Armor company, and his boss Sahara relies on him and his abilities. It’s no coincidence that he’s been assigned to Cat.
There is definite chemistry between Cat and Leese from the get go. Leese, though, puts on the brakes in a big way. Even after it’s clear that Cat would be very willing, Leese backs off, telling Cat that he doesn’t get involved with his clients. Cat doesn’t give up and Leese finds himself wanting to break his own rule. This bit of sexual tension played well into the story and keeps the reader waiting for them to just go for it. Initially, Cat being the instigator in wanting to take the relationship to a physical level seemed a bit out of character for a woman who initially seemed a bit skittish and distrusting. But as her experiences are revealed, I felt like her taking what she wanted was her way of trying to find some control in her life. And it didn’t hurt that Leese was sexy hot.
Foster gives us a good mix of romance and suspense as she brings together all the elements that led to Cat’s discovery. In a brave, well thought out ruse, Sahara and her team risk themselves in order to catch the man at the top of the game and bring all the players to justice.
There are a host of secondary characters that bring so much to the story. First, there is Justice, another MMA fighter from the previous series who only recently joined Body Armor and had been assigned to work with Leese. Next is Sahara who is the current owner of Body Armor. There is definitely a story there and I do hope she gets her own story. Then there is Enoch, Sahara’s personal assistant. He easily worked his way into my heart and I can’t wait see where his story leads.