Thursday, May 29, 2008

PROTECT AND SERVE by Gwyneth Bolton

Good afternoon, Blog Buds. At least, it is here in Alaska.


I didn't get half-way through the first chapter of PROTECT AND SERVE before I wanted to see Penny all dolled up in a massive white wedding gown walking down the aisle in a humongous church wedding. Penny won my empathy the first time she stepped onto the page. The story opens at the funeral of the grandmother who raised Penny, Big Mama. I've never had anyone close to me die before, but I know my turn is coming and I've observed others going through it. People are especially selfish when they're hurting. Guess its a primal survival instinct. Unfortunately, it causes them to be inconsiderate to those who are suffering even more than they are. No one is hurting more than Penny at this funeral, but she feels seriously ganged up on and with good reason. For starters, she flew to Jersey for the funeral all the way from California and hasn't seen most of these people in years.


Aunt Sophie still belittles her and tells everyone she's a slut.


Ex-boyfriend, police officer Jason, wants to know why she cheated on him with his best friend and dumped him like a hot rock so long ago.


And her mother, oh, what a peice of work! I found out pretty fast why Penny was raised by her grandmother instead. Penny calls her mother, 'Carla,' because, well, she's pretty clueless about being a mom, or being a grown-up really. Carla had Penny when she was only fourteen and the father was nineteen. Guess you could say Carla never had the chance to finish growing up.


Hands down the most gut-wrenching of this lot is Jason, handsome, good, honorable, and still carrying a terrible load of resentment. Sure, he tries to back off and let Penny mourn before pushing her for answers. We found out Penny miscarried their baby as a teenager and that Penny's father was sent to prison for a double-murder. Only, no one ever believed Penny was in love with Jason's best friend and Penny's father was just let out, having finally been proven innocent by a DNA test.


We're let inside Penny's head but only so far. She only lets us know a little bit more than poor Jason. The two are still in love. Nobody does enduring romance better than Gwyneth Bolton! So, the circumstances of Jason and Penny's break-up don't make a whole lot of sense to the reader, but at least we get fed some clues as we read along. Penny's dad shows up with a new lease on life, a desire to know his daughter after so many wasted years, and a deep-seeded concern for Carla and Penny's safety.


Then, Penny comes home to find Carla beaten bloody...


At that point, you'll be screaming and thinking you know what's going on, but, trust me, be patient. You ain't half there, Honey.


You know I'm terrible picky about love scenes in Romance novels. I know everyone has their tastes and comfort levels. I could never read Erotica, for example, because all that graphic description of naked body parts reminds me too much of childbirth and makes me want to spew. However, I have learned something after reading every Gwyneth Bolton novel there is, except her Erotic one, and that is this - the author must do an excellent job developing her characters and their relationship before the Hero and Heroine make love. Otherwise, it's just sex. And sex without romance is boooooring, in my opinion, and even ridiculous. Sometimes the rest of the story is pretty good and you only need to skip the sex scene and use your own imagination.


You'll never have to skip a love scene in PROTECT AND SERVE, providing the Sensual Heat Level is in y0ur comfort zone as a Romance reader. And maybe even if it isn't. I typically gag at any book hotter than a Sensual, but if the author does an excellent job I hardly notice the graphics because I'm so absorbed in the story.


No author writes a better Sensual love scene than Gwyneth Bolton, in my opinion.


Gwyneth is accumulating a pretty hefty backlist now and PROTECT AND SERVE is the first in a series of three. Better pop over to her website and check it out. If you asked me last week which one was my favorite, I would have said SWEET SENSATION. Today, I just don't know. PROTECT AND SERVE is right up there with it.

We're hoping to throw Gwyneth a Cyber-Launch Party when PROTECT AND SERVE hits the shelves in July. Click on Gwyneth's name in the directory to learn more about SWEET SENSATION.


Gwyneth Bolton said...

Thanks for taking the time to read and review Protect and Serve , Kimber An! I'm glad you like Penny and Jason's story. They had a lot to overcome in order to end up where they belonged. But I hope the ride was interesting. ;-)

much love!


Beverly said...

I am so looking forward to reading "Protect and Service". Just a couple of more weeks.


Kimber An said...

You're welcome, Gwyneth. It was a joy.
Beverly, it'll be worth the wait! One of the nice things about being a book reviewer is get to read books before they come out, sometimes a long time before they come it. I feel like the first kid to open presents on Christmas morning!

Anonymous said...

That was a great review!! I absolutely loved Protect and Serve. You definitely will not want to put it down.

Kimber An said...

So true, Tiffany. There's not a word out of place. It's totally absorbing.

Angelia... said...

Wonderful review, I preordered my copy!


Kimber An said...

Thanks, Angelia. I think Gwyneth is a wonderful role model for aspiring authors too. She inspires me to always keep learning and improving, and to never give up.

bettye griffin said...

Great title . . . great cover . . . great writing . . . it can only add up to a great book!

I wish you great success with your new series, Gwyneth!

shelia said...

I can't wait to get my hands on Protect and Serve.

Kimber An said...

Hi, Bettye and Shelia! I hate to say I love any Gwyneth Bolton novel better than SWEET SENSATION, but Jason was *so mighty fine*.