I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Bodyguard by Katherine Center. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In The Bodyguard by Katherine Center, Hannah Brooks is a no-nonsense, skilled executive protection agent. She’s dealing with the recent loss of her mother and the ending of her romantic relationship when she’s assigned to protect Jack Stapleton, a famous actor and heartthrob. Unfortunately, the assignment is in her home state of Texas, rather than anywhere interesting and far away, anywhere she can get her mind off her personal problems. To make matters worse, in order to protect Jack, she will have to go with him to his parents’ home to help his mother. And to avoid upsetting his mother, who is sick, Jack requests that Hannah pretend to be his girlfriend. Hannah is dreading it, especially when, as she gets to know Jack, she finds he is genuinely wonderful. Too bad their relationship is a lie…
Summer seems like the best time to read romcoms, though I’m not sure why.
Anyway, I liked this one well enough. Hannah is amusingly uptight and stern, tough and dangerous but also quite emotional deep down. She deals with lots of insecurities about her worth and ability to be loved, and it’s nice to see how this affects her life, and how realizing that giving love can be affirming and healing.
I also liked Jack, though he’s basically like Chris Evans or whatever charismatic and sweet A list actor you prefer. Still, he’s kind and respectful to a fault, correctly impressed by Hannah’s professional skills and charmed by her disposition. His bond with his parents is endearing, and I especially liked his relationships with his brothers, one who died a few years ago and the other who blames Jack for that. Dealing with guilt and grief gives him some complexity and depth that his character would otherwise be lacking.
Still, while this does deal with grief and more serious topics, it doesn’t get too heavy. This is a romantic comedy, after all. And in terms of the romance, I didn’t really love one aspect of it. There are several mentions of women Jack has dated in the past, who were all Hollywood stars themselves, and there were lots of mentions of how ordinary Hannah is in comparison. Obviously, we end it by seeing that Hannah is worth affection, and is the best person for Jack, but I wish that didn’t also involve insulting the other women. It seems to me that it was implied that because they care about fashion or followers on social media, they are less worthy as people. Perhaps that wasn’t Center’s intention, but it still came across like that to me a bit. And this isn’t a major part of the story, but it still irked me.
In the end, though, The Bodyguard is a fun story. It doesn’t really break any new ground on the romcom front, hitting lots of familiar beats and incorporating many familiar tropes, but it’s still enjoyable. And the themes about family and coping with complex relationships and grief is well done. The main couple have good chemistry, the side characters are nice, the romance is believable, and there is even some good action at the end where Hannah gets to showcase her skills! All in all, an entertaining story great for fans of the genre.
The Bodyguard will be published on July 19th, 2022!