by Jessica Bird
Paperback: 336 pages
Available: July 6, 2010
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Book received from: Penguin
Grace Hall is a society beauty-but her fortune has made her the target of a madman killing off Manhattan’s most influential women. Her new live-in bodyguard is uncompromising, hard-hearted John Smith. Moving into Grace’s penthouse is the last thing he wants, but saying no isn’t an option. As he lays down the rules for his new client, angry sparks ignite between them-as does an incendiary desire. As the warm nights grow hot, and the killer closes in, Grace and Smith face a crucial choice: follow the rules or follow their hearts.
You know when you want to love something so bad, but no matter how hard your try, you just can’t? You like it, but it doesn’t blow you away? Yes, the synopsis of the book brought back early 90′s memories and had me involuntarily singing Whitney Houston’s “And I Will Always Love You, ” reminiscing about her days on screen with Kevin Costner in “The Bodyguard. “ While the movie, to my recollection lacked suspense, I unfortunately felt a lot of the same with An Unforgettable Lady.
John Smith is all hard, arrogant, brash alpha male. He has no family, and his few friends are his brother’s in the Black Watch Security Firm which he heads up. A former Army Ranger and covert ops man, John has witnessed a lot and survived a lot both growing up and in past assignments. John’s mind and body work “in the now.” He is a task driven man that focuses on completing the job, no strings attached, no emotions involved so that he can pick up when the job is done and move on to the next.
Grace Woodward Hall is a New York City socialite who married into royalty. While she holds a title Countess von Sharone, Grace is a very down to earth woman with a lot of pressure on her after the recent death of her father. She has taken over his foundation and is trying to prove to the long term employees that she is capable of handling the job. She is also in the middle of getting out of a loveless marriage by divorcing her husband. Two people from different worlds, John and Grace meet at a party where he is stationed as security for the Ambassador. Once their paths collide there is immediate heat and sparks between the two which led me to believe this was going to be a steamy, suspenseful read. What brings the two opposites together again is a serial killer who is targeting and killing prominent socialites. Grace hires John as a personal bodyguard to protect her until the killer is caught.
What was frustrating to me was the murder plot never really took off. The author didn’t really present many suspects and there was no buildup to each victim. The suspense was very flat and I was never on the edge of my seat wondering when and where the killer would strike next. The relationship between John and Grace was strained throughout the story and in the end had me questioning if they really had anything more than lust. Ms. Bird can write strong sexual tension, but after a couple of hundred pages of buildup, once the lovemaking commenced, it lacked luster and was a less than stellar payoff for all of the frustrating tension between the two.
Now I had to keep in mind this was early work of Jessica Bird, who is now a New York Times Best Selling Author otherwise known as J.R. Ward. Ward is THE author that reignited my love for fiction several years ago with the Black Dagger Brotherhood and I have not looked back since. More than anything I was anxious to see if her early work conveyed any nuances or glimpses of the future brotherhood in the making.
In Ms. Bird’s letter to her readers, at the beginning of the book, she states that “it was an incredibly inefficient process” of how she went through the layout and process of writing An Unforgettable Lady, early on in her career. She further stated that it took her four contemporary romances to finally find “her craft.”
“In this book, it turns out I was starting to head into vampire land – I just didn’t know it.”‘
To be truthful, I did not feel Ward’s style in this story. However, I will say that John had several subtle characteristics of Wrath (Dark Lover) but not to the extent that I saw the brotherhood in it’s development. In retrospect, I have to say that this book is far from bad, but it’s just not to the level I have come to know and expect J.R. Ward to deliver. It goes to show us how a writer can come full circle once finding “her craft”. And any Ward fan that has read the Black Dagger Brotherhood knows she has found it!
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