Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “How much less injured and screwed up would we be if we didn’t have that past clinging to us?”
Trina Wilson thought she had married the man of her dreams until her dreams became a never ending nightmare. When her trips to the ER become the norm for her marriage, she grabs her car, dog, and what little cash she could hide and goes on the run. In her attempt to make it across the Canadian border, she runs into some problems and finds herself stranded with no money or a place to stay.
Declan James owns and operates the Fireside Grill. He put his heart and soul into it and when his wife walked away from it and him without a backward glance, he loses what little trust he had left. Intent on discovering who or what is rifling through his trash at night, he is shocked to find it’s a beautiful but beaten woman digging through his dumpster to find food for her dog. Declan invites her into his restaurant for a decent meal.
Declan’s long buried protective instincts roar to the forefront and before he knows it, he is offering Trina a place to stay and a job. As they grow closer, Trina learns there are men out there who will do anything to protect women they care for and Declan learns there are women who will treasure that protection. But Trina’s husband isn’t going to let her go without a fight. And unless Trina learns to trust Declan with everything she has, her husband may win.
His To Protect is the 2nd in Stacey Lynn’s Fireside series. I didn’t read the first one but this one is easily read as a stand alone. An abused woman finds sanctuary, hope, healing, and strength with a gruff and broody man-a favorite trip trope of mine. Though this is characterized as a romance suspense, the suspense is extremely lightweight. A major of the story focuses on Trina and Declan. Fluid and engaging, the storyline ebbs and flows seamlessly as we meet and watch two untrusting people learn to trust and love again.
Heavily character driven, we are instantly submerged into our heroine’s and hero’s stories from their first meeting. Trina is a strong, intelligent, and loyal woman who has been repeatedly lied to and forced to endure an abusive marriage for her family. She suffered and bided her time until she could escape and using her wits and ingenuity, has managed to evade her husband. Declan’s offer is a god send though she fears his motives.
“You need a place to stay?”
“I thought the burger was free?”
Declan is the alpha that romance loves to write about though Lynn strives to make him unique in his characterization. Strong, stoic, intelligent, protective, and nursing a broken heart. Struggling to keep his dream afloat he has shut himself off from his feelings, choosing to put everything he has mentally, physically, and emotionally back into his business. Meeting Trina compels Declan to move past his anger and pain. His focus narrows down to her and her only.
“No, she wasn’t homeless…
She was hiding.
And for some damn reason, I had an overwhelming instinct to take care of her.”
The romance reveals very slowly but with a firm hand with just the right amount of sexual and emotional tension. I appreciated that Lynn doesn’t make this an ‘insta love’ connection. Though the chemistry is established from their first meet, she uses Trina’s situation and Declan’s white knight complex to help push past the awkwardness, giving them a base on which to deepen their acquaintance and move onto something more meaningful. Bittersweet and emotionally lush dialogue gives credence to this blooming romance.
“No one, not one single person, ever cared enough to have me seen and looked over when I’d been hurt.”
A cast of familiar and new faces dot the landscape; facilitating subplots, building future storylines, and helping to see justice served. Characters from the first book all step in to help Trina; giving her the stability she so desperately craves.
The suspense portion was almost non-existent. Only through Trina’s thoughts and memories to we see the villain and learn of his crimes. A few threatening phone calls are all that is used to keep him in the picture. So much is focused on the romance between the protagonists, the conflict was extremely low key and remained somewhat buried in the background, brought to the forefront only when needed.
His to Protect is some sexy escapism with a little bit of everything to appeal to the romantic in all of us but if you’re looking for an action packed romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense, this isn’t for you.