by Brenda Williamson, contemporary (2007)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-365-3
In His Protective Custody opens with the heroine Lorelei Blackwell making good use of a vibrator in her ADA office. Her boss knocks on the door just in time, right after she's put it away. His timing is impeccable, I must say. I'm impressed. I'm even more impressed when he opens the door and looks in, which means that Lorelei didn't lock the door when she was having a happy hour for one in her office earlier. I'm all for the empowered woman taking pleasure in her own hands, but I do not approve of how she didn't clean up afterwards. Hygiene is not something we should overlook in our haste towards progress, no?
Lorelei is handed a case that will get complicated pretty quickly. What seems like a simple murder case ends up pitting her against ATF agent Rafe "With A Name Like That, It's Either That Or The WWE Ring" Salazar because the suspect is under investigation by the ATF and the chief witness happens to be an undercover ATF agent in a case. Hoping to prevent his case from being compromised by this development, Rafe wants to "persuade" the ADA to back off the case by being as unpleasant and uncooperative as possible, but he doesn't expect the ADA to be a woman, much less a hot one.
I am beginning to worry that this will turn out to be a tedious "Bastard! I hate you! Let's boink!" love/hate story but fortunately author Brenda Williamson manages to have the two main characters behaving with more common sense than two hormonal antagonists normally would. The pacing of the relationship is too fast for the romance to be as convincing as it could have been, but Rafe and Lorelei actually take the time to date and talk to each other, so their relationship isn't about angry hate sex. I am not so sure if I buy that these two know each other well enough to be in love by the last page, but I can see that in the long run they could fall in love. Besides, she keeps a vibrator in her office and he abuses himself in the toilet cubicle. How can they not be a match made in heaven?
I'm not sure though about the depiction of Phillip Reynolds, the witness in question. Would a man tell another man about detecting chemistry between that man and a woman? I can imagine a man suggesting to his friend that this friend want to shag a woman but I can't imagine someone - an agent, to boot - getting so touchy-feely about chemistry. Phillip often comes off too much like a contrivance for the author to insert herself into the story in order to beat the reader in the head about this hot chemistry between the main characters.
With other respects, Rafe and Lorelei do have a pretty good chemistry taking place between them. They are both hot-headed people but they manage to behave quite sensibly towards each other in this story without becoming too bratty or silly in the process. In His Protective Custody is all in all a pretty entertaining read.
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