Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harlequin Intrigue Adventures: Bayou Bodyguard and Deal Breaker

While on vacation recently I ran out of books to read - a true emergency situation!  I'd left my Nook at home (why? why? why? but it seemed smart at the time....sigh).  Anyway I was in WalMart and feeling desperate (not a good combo) and saw these nifty little books for under $4 each.  Both are part of the Harlequin Intrigue line of romantic suspense and are July 2011 releases.  At just over 200 pages each these are quick reads, and feel a bit like they were rushed to print.  There were several typos in each, and both books would benefit from another round of editing.  I have these same complaints for a lot of books, so maybe I'm just too nitpicky.  But for the price, and for light reading entertainment, I was pretty happy.  So on to the actual reviews!
                                                 Bayou Bodyguard [Book]

Bayou Bodyguard by Jana DeLeon
Back of the Book Blurb:  Bodyguard Brian Marcentel knew Justine Chatry had a job to do, but so did he. He'd been hired to keep her safe—from whatever lurked behind the walls of a long-neglected mansion. And yet, the beautiful researcher insisted on helping him investigate every suspicious noise and following him through the murky bayou as he tracked down trespassers. All of that paled in comparison, though, to his greatest challenge: trying to resist her when the fear took over and she looked to him for protection. Still, no matter how fiery their attraction, there was something about this frustrating, sexy woman that seemed so familiar. But trying to penetrate her secrets was like trying to keep her out of his arms. Or out of his bed.

Review:  This book grabbed me right from the first page, with a strong sense of atmosphere and an immediate sense of spooky anticipation.  The characters are really well-developed.  Justine is a historian with a secret past who is reclusive and private by nature.  When she learns that she will have a bodyguard named Brian with her at all times, she's not happy about it, especially when she recognizes him from her past.  But Justine was a little girl then, and is a strong, capable woman now.  Her strength and cool, calm behavior impress Brian just as much as her Creole beauty.  And Justine, who has no intention of letting her guard down, finds herself relaxing and enjoying Brian's company.  The attraction and sexual tension is gradually and realistically built between them, as they get to know one another and adjust to being together in close quarters.  When they do give in to their attraction, it is very sexy and realistic, and a condom is used (which was well-done and nice to read as part of a contemporary romance).

Eventually Justine's ulterior motive for taking this job come to light, and Brian finally remembers her from his past.  As the danger increases, from both human and possibly ghostly enemies, it becomes obvious that Justine is the target.  Brian's protective instincts are triggered, but Justine is one strong woman who carries her own weapon and knows how to use it.  I loved that she was able to stand side by side with the strong hunky man, and still retain all her feminine appeal.  Because there's only so many innocent, trembling virgins I can stand to read about.

The suspense is intense and created a real page-turner of a book.  The setting of a giant, haunted mansion built in the middle of a steamy bayou as the backdrop for murder, madness and voodoo created a deliciously spooky atmosphere.  The mystery was an intriguing blend of human threat and ghostly happenings, and the ending really caught me by surprise, which I love!  The only complaint I have is the final scene, when the bad guy is caught and Justine suddenly decides to commit to a relationship with Brian.  It felt forced and fast.

This was a great romantic suspense novel, and is a followup to another Harlequin Intrigue called The Secret of  Cypriere Bayou.  I have not read the first one, but had no problem following the storyline in Bayou Bodyguard.  It's definitely an enjoyable stand-alone book.  But I liked it so much I plan to read the first one as well!
Check out the author's website at

Deal Breaker by Patricia Rosemoor

Deal Breaker [Book]

Back of the Book Blurb:   
The McKenna legacy strikes again, and the consequences could be devastating
Bryce McKenna was a cursed man who needed a wife fast—and childhood friend Hailey Wright fit the bill perfectly. With her brother a hundred thousand dollars in debt to a loan shark, Hailey was willing to vow marriage for the money to save him. But when Hailey's own life came under attack, Bryce feared the McKenna family's dark legacy was the cause.…
While Hailey's unorthodox gift for sensing ghosts suggested there was more to Bryce's demons than an unsolved mystery, she feared falling in love with her tortured husband. But Bryce's kisses burned too hot…and made the vulnerable beauty forget her life was in jeopardy. Although they'd taken their vows, would the McKenna curse tear their new love apart?

This book had an interesting plot with a really good murder mystery from the past affecting the lives of the main characters.  Bryce's mother disappeared on a stormy night several years ago, and his family believes it's because of the McKenna curse, causing anyone loved by a McKenna to be in mortal danger.  Bryce has avoided an emotional relationship because of this curse.  But now his business is in danger of bankruptcy, and the only potential investor wants to do business with a married man.  So Bryce asks his childhood friend Hailey, a real estate agent, to marry him as a business arrangement.  Hailey is desperate as well - her gambling brother is deep in debt to a loan shark.  If she marries Bryce, he promises to pay her brother's loan and divorce Hailey as soon as the investor bails out his company.  He believes Hailey will be safe from the McKenna curse because he does not love her.  Can you see where this is going?

Hailey has had a secret crush on Bryce since they were teens, and is already attracted to him.  Right after they're married someone tries to kill Hailey, and Bryce saves her, resulting in near-death sex.  The sex scene was fairly mechanical.  As a reader, I never felt love or affection grow between Hailey and Bryce.

Hailey is a tough heroine to like.  She's loyal to her gambling addict brother to the point of stupidity, she takes cell phone photos of her brother's loan shark and then waves her phone in the criminal's face, and she likes to tell her clients about the ghosts she "senses" in the houses she's trying to sell. 
As the story progresses, Hailey gets more ghostly clues concerning Bryce's mother's death, multiple suspects are established, and Bryce and Hailey's relationship grows more awkward, as they alternately rebuff and reach out to one another.

Overall this was a pretty good mystery, but was dragged down by an awkward, forced romance element.


  1. For $4, it's hard to go wrong!

  2. Exactly - I feel like they were little literary treats!