Series: Christmas at the Carlisles
Author: Cassie Miles
Read copy: eBook
Published: November 1, 2009
Bodyguard Jesse Longbridge had been shot while trying to stop a kidnapping at the Carlisle Ranch. He swore he'd track the enemy to the ends of the earth. And his path led him to Fiona Grant's door.
The young widow only had one thing on her Christmas list: keeping her daughter safe from the chaos of the investigation next door. So when a body was discovered on her property, Fiona jumped at Jesse's offer to stay for the holidays. He had a stoic face, but honest, caring eyes. And no matter how she ached to feel his toned and chiseled arms around her, she needed the protection that only a man like Jesse could provide....
Trying to prevent Nicole Carlisle from being kidnapped, Jesse Longbridge had been shot and spent the last three days in a coma. Upon awakening, he learns that Nicole’s kidnappers have been identified, but are still at large, the ransom of one mill has been paid and the money disappeared, Nicole is alive and well and left her husband after demanding a divorce, and the FBI, since there was no crime, called off the search parties.
Nicole’s sister-in-law isn’t satisfied with those answers and Jesse has to agree. Nicole is still his employer, and until he hears the words directly from her he won’t rest until he finds her. And the ransom money.
But the Carlisles aren’t the only ones looking for the money. A rift between the kidnappers forced one of them to hide the money, and the most likely place was the Widow Grant’s house.
Living alone with her daughter, Fiona Grant never thought about protecting them until the night she heard two men argue in front of her door. The next day she sees a shadow lurking around her house and seeks help. The first one to come to her rescue is Jesse, the man who had once saved her husband’s life. And when the two find a dead body on her property, both are convinced Fiona and her daughter are not safe by themselves.
Taking on the pro-bono job of her bodyguard, Jesse moves in. But will he be able to protect them so soon after almost losing his life, when the man that shot him is gunning for Fiona next? Will they find the money? And what exactly happened the night Nicole was freed, met her husband alone, and demanded a divorce?
This is the second book in what appears a trilogy about the goings on at the Carlisle ranch, and while it doesn’t reach the appeal of the first book, it is still an awesome sequel. It takes on where Colorado Abduction ended, with Jesse Longbridge waking up from his coma and wanting to continue where he left off—saving Nicole Carlisle.
The story flowed naturally, smoothly transitioning from one story to the next. Though the romance took a rather back seat to all the action, the suspense and the mystery of the investigation to uncover the truth of what happened compensated very well.
Jesse and Fiona were wonderful characters, fully formed, with some emotional baggage (on Fiona’s side because she was a widow and on Jesse’s side because she had loved another man before him), but it didn’t slow the pace down, it didn’t dilute the intensity of the narration, but only added to the appeal of their budding love story.
I love it how Ms. Miles is able to develop a story, convey all the necessary emotions and feelings, without falling into the abyss of emotional scarring almost too deep to overcome. I’ve noticed (and applauded) it in Colorado Abduction and this "style" became even more apparent in Bodyguard Under the Mistletoe.
Carolyn and J.D. were recurring characters in this book as well, giving us a few precious glimpses of how they progressed from their (a little unconventional) HEA in the previous book.
But what really caught my attention (actually held it from the first book) was the main plot – the arc coursing through the trilogy. The kidnapping had seemed to be resolved, but this book tore everything at the seams. The suspense was gripping, the mystery intriguing, and the final twist a huge surprise. I sure didn’t see that one coming to the very end. Kudos to the author for succeeding in carrying a simple kidnapping plot through two books without losing the reader’s attention. I can’t wait to read the conclusion of this wonderful trilogy.