• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

Katherine Center's newest light fiction offers an irresistible premise--a female bodyguard poses as the girlfriend of a heartthrob actor--and delightful, if sometimes predictable, developments that lead to a satisfying ending.

I listened to The Bodyguard, the newest book by Katherine Center.

Hannah Brooks looks like the young woman next door--but she's actually a highly skilled Executive Protection Agent--a bodyguard. And her newest client is the Jack Stapleton, action star, household name--and, in recent years, recluse.

Someone is stalking Jack, and Hannah is bound to protect him. But Jack's mother is sick, he wants to return home to Texas, and he doesn't want his family to know he's got a stalker and be worried while they're focused on his mother's health. So against her better judgment, Hannah agrees to pose as Jack's girlfriend. Only...the longer she pretends, the more their fake relationship seems like it might have promise.

Some of the details here didn't add up for me--for example, Hannah poses as a photographer but is never asked about her career (or her long-term leave of absence from any clients or work) and she doesn't even have a camera with her, but this is not suspicious or of interest to people who are treating her like and caring for her like family. And the main "bad guys" here (Robbie, Kennedy) are so hopeless, so unkind, so clueless, and so insufferable, it's hard to imagine that either Hannah or Jack could have spent time with them in any context.

Much of Hannah's character growth in the story centers around her journey from low to medium self-esteem. This occurs while (and because?) she spends time with Jack, despite the fact that during this period she constantly questions her self-worth and attractiveness, and despite his teasing barbs that may be intended to be charmingly down-to-earth or candid but seemed jerky to me (calling Hannah "stumpy"--she is short--and "plain"--she is not a movie star).

Moments of casual comfortableness bring the characters together and are at the root of their connection--but I wished Hannah's vulnerability didn't center around her bursting into tears so frequently (despite the fact that she says she really never cries).

Yet The Bodyguard is fun, often charming--and the premise is absolutely irresistible. Jack's family is lovely, and there's a subplot in which Jack and his brother Hank are furious with each other after the loss of their brother, for which Jack has been blamed. This--along with a late-stage, dangerous, dramatic situation requiring Hannah's smarts and strength--adds tension and conflict to the story.

Even if some of the resolutions here are predictable, it's satisfying to know that in Center's hands, her characters are relatively safe, and that she'll deliver an ending that makes a reader happy. The journey to the conclusion is joy-filled and entertaining.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

I received a prepublication audiobook version of this book courtesy of MacMillan Audio and NetGalley.

Katherine Center is also the author of What You Wish For, Things You Save in a Fire, How to Walk Away, Happiness for Beginners, and other books.