Published by Penguin on July 19, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / Suspense, Fiction / Women
Format: ARC, eBook, Paperback
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Michael Buchanan will need every bit of his extensive skill set when he appoints himself as bodyguard to a woman determined not to need one in this thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.
Grace Isabel MacKenna has a hundred things to do today. Killing someone isn't one of them. It is supposed to be a quick visit to Boston for the Buchanan anniversary party, then on to Scotland to collect an inheritance. She checks into her hotel and then decides to go for a brisk walk. But after getting lost, she ends up with a wounded man stumbling into her arms—and his shooter coming after them both. When she fires back in self-defense, she doesn’t expect him to drop dead. After Isabel endures an interrogation by police, she is free to go, thanks to the Buchanans dispatching former Navy SEAL and now lawyer Michael Buchanan to assist her.
Isabel knows she should be grateful for Michael’s help, but since she’s harbored an extreme dislike for him for years, gratitude is difficult to muster. Michael has appointed himself her de facto guardian, and she’s stuck with him despite their constant bickering and sizzling attraction. Even when Isabel goes to Scotland to claim her inheritance, Michael follows her—but he isn’t the only thing she can’t shake. Mysterious threats against Isabel surface, and before they can deal with their growing feelings for each other, Michael and Isabel must first survive.
Julie Garwood has a wildly successful career that has spanned decades and has created stories and characters that readers, including myself, love and cherish. But for me, the older I get, I’m finding that the characters who have not evolved are getting harder to read. ~ Leigh – Simply Love Books
Julie Garwood has been one of my favorite authors ever since I was about sixteen years old and picked up Rebellious Desire. The Lions Lady and Ransom rank as two of my all time favorite stories that I love to read over and over again. My copies are tattered and worn with the covers falling off they are so well loved. Which is why it hurts me so much that I simply could not finish Grace Under Fire. I never imagined that a book written by an author that I’ve adored for so long could be one that wouldn’t hold my attention, but that was the case with this book. And it didn’t take me much contemplation to figure out why.
Back when I was a fresh-faced, innocent young reader quickly devouring historical romance novels, I loved to read about the fresh-faced, innocent young heroines who captured the attention of a strong, dominant man who would could protect them and keep them safe. The heroine’s attempts at self sufficiency always were well meaning, but they would fall short and the hero needed to swoop in and rescue them from ridiculous situations of their own making.
As I got older, I still loved the strong hero but I guess that a part of me wanted to read about women that were strong too. I wanted to see women that weren’t cluelessly bumbling along in their own attempts at independence and were just endearingly cute things to protect. I wanted romance that seemed grounded in reality, not a campy farce. My expectations changed. The author’s writing did not. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Julie Garwood has a wildly successful career that has spanned decades and has created stories and characters that readers, including myself, love and cherish. But for me, the older I get, I’m finding that the characters who have not evolved are getting harder to read.
In Grace Under Fire, Michael is an overachiever. As an attorney and Navy SEAL and not yet in his 30s, he’s a strong, intelligent man, and I have to wonder what would attract and keep his interest in a woman who is portrayed like Isabel. She is an innocent college graduate returning to her brother-in-law’s family estate, and she’s an odd duck. She composes songs in her head and becomes so distracted that she is able to walk for miles to a strange part of town without realizing where she is. She’s a menace on the road, oblivious to her surroundings, and yet somehow a crack shot with a gun. Her internal monologue is stilted and naïve and it made me truly wonder how she survived as long as she did.
At one point in my journey as a reader, I think I would have devoured this story, happy to see friends and characters I haven’t seen in a while. But as I’ve matured and grown my tastes as a reader have changed as well. When I read historical romances, I loved the formal conversations and details of every dress and waistcoat worn. Now, I found the dialogue didn’t reflect how people truly spoke, and I cared less about the intricacies of the torn jacket Isabel was wearing and more about the intellectual challenge she presented to Michael. I so wish I would have been more gripped by this book enough to want to complete it. But just like Isabel, my mind wandered too much while I was reading to force myself to complete the story.