“There is safety in the very heart of danger.” ― Vincent van Gogh
Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Torquere Press
Pages/Word Count: 158 Pages
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Blurb: Cade “Hercules” Thornton is an ex-Marine and soldier of fortune; now he’s the owner of Hercules Security, which provides the best bodyguards in the business. After his leg was crushed and reconstructed, Cade doesn’t do field work anymore – until a challenge is issued to him by wealthy Kate Morgan, who wants her “bookish” grandson protected from a stalker. She insists on having the very best bodyguard available, and that is Cade himself.
But there is nothing laid back or bookish about Dr. Jude Morgan. Having lived under the thumb of his grandmother his entire life, Jude is insistent that he doesn’t need a babysitter. Sparks fly when Cade tries to insinuate himself into Jude’s life, and Cade knocks Jude on his ass – literally.
Yet the danger to Jude is real, and Cade is the only thing standing between him and an increasingly more terrifying stalker. Cade’s protective feelings for his client become something more, while Jude begins to realize that his brawny, neo-Viking protector is a man unlike anyone he’s ever known. Yet as Cade and Jude grow closer, so does the danger.
Cade will stop at nothing to protect Jude, but Jude’s stalker is determined to get his man – even if he has to kill Cade Thornton to do it.
Review: What is a man to do when he is no longer a Marine and an injury takes him out of the mercenary field? He opens his own bodyguard company, that’s what. Cade Thornton, A.K.A. Hercules, can no longer perform field work, but he brought some friends with him, and he is doing well managing his teams from his desk, even if it is boring as hell.
When Herc is approached by Kate Morgan, a wealthy older woman, who asks him to personally protect her grandson from his ex-boyfriend-turned-stalker, some tough negotiations follow, but Kate’s terms are set, and Herc sets out to meet the mysterious Dr. Jude Morgan.
Arriving at Jude’s office to find that Kate had arranged Herc’s services without Jude’s knowledge, it doesn’t make for a great first meeting. Jude wants nothing to do with a bodyguard, and he makes his point more than clear. Jude also manages to say the one thing that can crack Herc’s professional façade, and he ends up having to pick himself up off the floor.
After thinking over his bratty behavior, Jude goes to apologize to Herc and the two men strike a deal they can both live with to keep Jude safe and keep his grandmother off their backs. This agreement has Herc moving into Jude’s house, and there are immediate sparks between them. The living arrangement also has the side effect of pushing Jude’s stalker to act out. When Herc realizes that the stalker believes he and Jude are in a relationship, they decide to act like a couple, and this leads to them growing closer.
As the stalker gets closer, Jude and Herc somehow manage to find themselves falling for one another, and the stakes are then raised for Herc to keep Jude safe. By the end of the story the stalker has run out of patience, and the final standoff is inevitable. None of these men will make it out unscathed, and there is no guarantee of Herc and Jude’s relationship surviving the fallout.
I loved the route Ari McKay took with this story. Herc was definitely a protector, and that came through clearly in the story. He is the type of bodyguard that will take an assault by gun, knife or even a car to protect the client. He is basically a modern day hero, and that shines through in the writing. Jude is the geeky scientist type that happens to be über-rich, and that has led to him being used for his money. He has never known if he was being courted for who he is or what he has.
Watching these two men let down their guards and trust one another was lovely. Even though this was a quick story, it was long enough to be a complete story. I would highly recommend this if you love a big strong Marine pairing off with the brainy scientist while they are both fighting for their lives.