Requested-Review: GUARDING HOPE by Ann Mayburn

Guarding Hope
Guarding Hope by Ann Mayburn
Contego Agency series, book 1

Format: ebook, 255 pages
Genre: Romantic Suspense, IR romance
Publisher: Self Published
Year of release: 2013, August 6
Source: Received an e-ARC from the author for review
My rating: 4 of 5 stars – Great Read

Blurb from Goodreads:
War hero Daniel Escobar has left behind his career as a Marine and now works for the Contego Agency, Detroit’s premier personal protection firm. Unfortunately his heroic actions on the battlefield cost him not only part of his sight, but also his peace of mind. Haunted by regrets of the past, Daniel finds a new purpose in life when he is given the job of protecting Hope, the only woman he’s ever truly loved, from the mob.

Hope Walker can’t believe it when she finds Daniel, her first love, working at the Contego Agency. She’s searched for him for years, wanting to know why he left her after that terrible night their senior year in high school when a fight with his mother’s drug dealer boyfriend left Hope in the hospital and Daniel shipped off to parts unknown by Child Protective Services. For both Daniel and Hope the old memories and emotions come rushing back, and together they will have to fight to stay alive long enough to give their love a second chance.

My Review:
Daniel ‘Danny’ Escobar is a former Marine, now bodyguard with Contego Agency, all ex Marines. He was almost blown up by a suicide bomber which turned him into a war hero and his injury led him to permanently resigning from active duty. His shitty chilhood with an addict for a mother and his past mistakes made him into the hotheaded and guilt-ridden man.

Daniel and Hope were high school sweethearts until Daniel put her life in danger and wanted nothing to do with her anymore after she got engaged to someone else while he was in military bootcamp. At least that’s what they both have been led to believe.

Hope Walker is a psychologist at a women’s shelter. Danny was her first love and now when she’s in need of protection because of a mob hit put out on her he returns into her life. Hope is stubborn and compassionate and believes in the good she does with her shelter. I found Danny’s reaction to Hope’s place of work a bit excessive. I understood his aversion to shelters but to me it was too easily used as the trigger for the conflict between Danny and Hope. To be honest I thought he was being unreasonable about it and didn’t get why he was so upset and ready to put all the blame on himself and make it all about him without getting all the facts first. Hope is actually trying to make sure kids under her care don’t have to suffer what he went through.

I love it when I try a new-to-me author, start reading and before I know it I’m halfway through the book. This is what happened to me with Ann Mayburn’s GUARDING HOPE. I answered to a call for reviewers for this book because when I read the premise, blurb and an excerpt I felt this would be a book I’d like. And I really did. Not in the least because of Mayburn’s agreeable and crisp writing. Her voice and style are perfectly suited for this I/R romantic suspense with a reunion romance trope. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop and whenever I had to (pesky EDJ) I couldn’t wait to get back to it.

In romantic suspense it’s hard to find the balance between the romance and the suspense plot but Ann Mayburn nailed it. And on top of that she writes amazingly sexy love scenes. Explicit and laced with primal need they are exactly the sex scenes I love to read. I loved the dynamics and dialogues between Danny and his friends, Boden and Omar. Despite the trash-talking that they use as a coping mechanism you feel they would go through hell and back for each other. I look forward to the stories of these friends and hope they have their own books in the future.

In short: this first encounter with Ann Mayburn’s writing was a big success and I have another author to add to my ever-growing favorites list.

Fave Scenes:
– the guys doing tequila shots with hot sauce in it > priceless! What a way to introduce your hero and his friends
– the escape from Hope’s house > I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I finished the scene!
– the shower scene at the safe house > holy smokes that was hot!
– the scene with Rebecca and Danny > so sweet! Kids in romance novels are my weakness

Fave Quotes:

Well, that settled it. She was an idiot, a masochistic fool who couldn’t wait to throw her heart back into the emotional food processor that was Danny.

She stopped so abruptly he ran into her, then stumbled back just as quickly. After glancing up and down the hall to make sure no one was around, she poked a finger into his chest. “Look, you don’t want to be here and I don’t want you here, but if you say or do one damned thing to upset anyone here, I swear to god, I will rip your balls off and shove them up your nose.”

Hope crawled over to Boden and a bright wave of relief washed through him as he reaffirmed that she was alive and in once piece. She placed her hand on his cheek. “Open your eyes, pretty boy. I want to see those baby blues.”
Boden smiled and said in a weak voice, “Only if you show me your tits.”
Hope gave a startled laugh and leaned back. “I thought you were dying. You survive this and I’ll find someone to show you their tits. I’m afraid if I did it Danny would shoot you.”

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