Review: Explosive Engagement by Lisa Childs

explosive engagementTitle: Explosive Engagement

Author: Lisa Childs

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2014

The heroine: Jewellery designer Stacy Kozminski

The hero: Former detective/bodyguard Logan Payne

The blurb: Nothing has fazed Logan Payne in his entire career as a bodyguard. That is, until he’s tasked with protecting his biggest enemy. Stacy Kozminski isn’t too thrilled about having to work with Logan either, but when attempts are made on her life, she knows he is her only hope if she wants to survive.

Soon, a target is placed on both their backs, and they have no choice but to fake an engagement to protect one another. Logan won’t let Stacy out of his sight. But is it because he doesn’t want to fail his mission… or because he’s come to care for her?

Standalone or series: Book two of the Shotgun Weddings series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I love the Payne family. I’ve already read Cooper and Parker’s books, and when I found Logan’s I knew I had to buy it. Logan is the eldest Payne (his twin is Parker) and CEO of the Payne Protection Agency. He was seventeen when his father, a cop, was gunned down during a robbery by Patek Kozminski. Every time Kozminski came up for parole, Logan would speak at the hearing to ensure his father’s killer never got out.

When Kozminski is murdered in prison, he leaves behind his three children: Garek, Milek and Stacy. Stacy and Logan’s paths have crossed many times before, and they hate each other. Or do they? Logan has never blamed Stacy for what her father did, but he’s always resented her loyalty to her father and her blind faith in his innocence. Stacy begged Logan once not to attend a parole hearing for her father, but he refused, determined to keep the man in prison.

When Patek dies, someone comes after Stacy and Logan. The who and why isn’t known at first, but between bullets and bombs, Penny Payne, matriarch and matchmaker extraordinaire, declares that they only way for them to stay safe is to marry. Getting married is Penny’s solution to pretty much everything, as you’ll see when you read the other books. Logan is sure that Stacy’s brothers are behind the attempts on his life, and Stacy herself has doubts because they have killed for her before (yes, you do find out who and why, and no, I won’t spoil it), so she follows Penny’s logic and announces her engagement to Logan, thinking her brothers will back off if they believe Stacy’s in love with him. Penny Payne has always looked out for the Kozminski children, who were teenagers when their father was incarcerated, so they respect her.

Penny has it in her head that Logan and Stacy really are in love, united by their shared grief over their fathers, and when Logan starts to believe Stacy when she says her father never killed his, he investigates and finds out she was right. I won’t tell you who the real killer is, but it’s the same person responsible for everything. They’re caught in the end, and Logan and Stacy decide to make their engagement real. Another enjoyable instalment in the Payne family series.

Red Hot by Lisa Childs

red hotTitle: Red Hot

Author: Lisa Childs

Mills & Boon imprint:  Blaze

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Insurance agent Fiona O’Brien

The hero: Firefighter Wyatt Andrews

The blurb: Fiona O’Brien knows how to minimize risk…by never, ever falling for a guy in a hazardous job. And when her brother applies to become an elite Forest Service firefighter, Fiona hits the roof. She’ll do anything to keep him safe—even if it means using every sexy tool in her arsenal to seduce the one firefighter who can change her brother’s mind.

Hotshot Wyatt Andrews swore to avoid controlling women like Fiona. And he has no intention of intervening in her family business. Still, he can’t resist the fiery redhead with the deadly curves. Soon they’re engulfed in a blaze of lust that incinerates their self-control. They’re playing each other, but if they’re not careful they may both get burned.

Standalone or series: Part of the Hotshot Heroes series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: Lisa Childs writing Blaze books? Yes, please! I wanted to love this book, but there was something about the plot that just didn’t gel with me.

Fiona O’Brien has a younger half-brother (they share the same mother), Matthew, whom she finds out has applied not only to be a firefighter, but part of an elite team called the Huron Hotshots. Matthew’s mentor on the team is Wyatt Andrews, so Fiona decides to talk with Wyatt and see if she can get him to talk Matthew out of dropping out of college to pursue being a firefighter.

Wyatt is attracted to Fiona, and knows that there’s nothing to talk Matthew out of – his application will be unsuccessful because he has a juvenile record – but can’t tell Fiona that because a) he’s not part of the selection panel and b) they can be sued if Matthew finds out through Fiona before he gets the official letter.

When talking to Wyatt doesn’t work, Fiona decides to seduce him in the hope that will help her cause. Wyatt knows exactly why Fiona wants to sleep with him, but since he’s attracted to her, he doesn’t really care that she’s using him for sex. Only once they start sleeping together, they both realise it’s more than just sex.

Here’s what didn’t gel for me: Matthew is a douchecanoe. He claims Fiona is manipulative and he’s pissed at her for leaving him with their airhead mother when he was five and she was eleven, but that’s because her paternal grandparents got her mother deemed unfit to care for her and they moved her to another state. Fiona was a child who had no say in it, and as soon as she was old enough she looked out for Matthew. So his childish behaviour was just odd. I didn’t find Fiona manipulative at all – she was a big sister, trying to look out for her younger brother. Her mother has buried two husbands (their fathers) due to their reckless behaviour (her father died in a crash because he was racing, Matthew’s father died of a drug overdose), so Fiona doesn’t want to lose her brother the same way.

Here’s what also didn’t gel for me: Fiona gets mad at Wyatt when she finds out he knew all along Matthew’s application was unsuccessful. He couldn’t tell her. HE COULDN’T TELL HER. Not because he didn’t want to, but he risked losing his job and leaving the fire department open to a lawsuit. And then Wyatt decides she’s right to be angry and he should have told her. Uh, no. But when Wyatt is trapped in a fire trying to save a troop of boy scouts, Fiona realises she’s in love with him and they get their happily ever after.

What did work, though: the sex. There was lots and lots of hot sex. If reading lots of hot sex scenes works for you, read this book. Oh, and the cover? Yes, please! I’ll take two 🙂

Legal Seduction by Lisa Childs

legal seductionTitle: Legal Seduction

Author: Lisa Childs

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Executive Assistant/Lingerie designer Bette Monroe

The hero: Lawyer Simon Kramer

The blurb: Quitting her job puts executive assistant Bette Monroe in a very compromising position. With ten days left, powerhouse lawyer Simon Kramer is working her late into the night…and seducing her into oblivion! While he’s convinced she’s selling business secrets, the bombshell she’s keeping secret would shock him more. Does she bare all…or keep him guessing?

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: I left this one until last to read because Lisa Childs is one of my three favourite M&B authors (the other two being Janie Crouch and Julie Miller), and I’m glad I did because this one is my favourite 🙂

Bette Monroe has been working for Simon Kramer for two years, and over those years she’s watched him go through endless women. He’s not interested in commitment, and she’s sent enough flowers on his behalf to prove it. When the lingerie line she’s been designing is picked up by a major store chain, she quits her job.

Simon is gobsmacked by her resignation. While he’s eyed her from afar for two years, he’s never really contemplated making a pass at her for fear of being sued for sexual harassment. The law firm he started with three friends who came from the same bleak childhood he did – living on the streets, conning people for a living – is too important to him to risk jeopardising it with a sexual harassment suit. So he keeps his distance… until he suspects Bette might be the office mole he’s been trying to ferret out. Someone is selling confidential papers from the law firm to a rival firm, and Simon is desperate to stop it.

Since she will no longer be his employee, and since he finds his attraction to her bubbling to the surface, he decides to finally seduce her and see if he can find evidence she is the mole… only to have the tables turned on him by Bette, who seduces him instead. She wants to get out of the two week notice Simon’s forcing her to serve on her contract, and she knows the only way to make that happen is to let Simon think she’s in love with him – because she knows the commitment shy lawyer will let her go.

Except that doesn’t happen. Simon finds himself intrigued by the layers that are Bette… both underneath her clothing and as a person. Bette’s signature on her lingerie are bows that hold the fabric together, and Simon delights in undoing each and every bow he finds. They find themselves unable to resist each other and have lots of hot sex, until they both realise that the game they’re playing with each other is no longer a game.

Bette finds out at her going away party from one of the partners that Simon only seduced her to see if she was the mole, and she gets angry, quite rightly so. She confronts Simon, slaps him, and walks away. Only she’s miserable without him, and when Simon’s three friends rock up to her new apartment and tell her he’s miserable without her, she decides to go see for herself. They kiss and make up on his couch and, since they’re no longer working together, admit they really have fallen in love with each other.

Loved this book, love this new imprint! Can’t wait to read next month’s books.

Bridegroom Bodyguard by Lisa Childs

bridegroom bodyguardTitle: Bridegroom Bodyguard

Author: Lisa Childs

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2014

The heroine: Law clerk/Nanny Sharon Wells

The hero: Former undercover cop & bodyguard Parker Payne

The blurb: Someone is trying to kill bodyguard Parker Payne. But what’s more shocking is the woman who shows up claiming he’s the father of her child. The baby boy is Parker’s spitting image, but how could he have forgotten a passionate encounter with this woman with caramel eyes?

Sharon Wells has raised Parker’s son since his birth. Now with a homicidal maniac coming after her and her son, it’s Parker’s unexpected proposal that may be the real danger. Sharon knows Parker just wants to protect them. But with passion flaring and a murderer intent on completing his personal mission, any distraction could mean the difference between life and death.

Standalone or series: This is part of the Shotgun Weddings series, and is also set in the same universe as the Bachelor Bodyguard series. You don’t have to have read the books before, but it helps.

The review: I’m a fan of Lisa Childs and the Payne universe she’s created. The Paynes are an awesome family and great fun to read about. We have Mama Penny Payne, who organises weddings and is determined to marry all of her children off as quickly as possible. Penny’s resolution to the situations her children get into is to marry. Then we have twins Logan and Parker, both former cops who run the Payne Protection Agency; Cooper, who works with them; and Nikki, the youngest, who is constantly trying to prove to her older brothers that she can be as good a bodyguard as them.

In this book, they also find out they have another half-brother in Special Agent Nicholas Rus; if I remember correctly, he’s eventually embraced by the Paynes and changes his surname to theirs (they all share the same father, a cop who was killed in the line of duty. He worked undercover and had a job protecting Nicholas’s mother, whom he unknowingly got pregnant. Penny knew about the affair but not the child).

Parker has just avoided being blown up by an unknown assassin when Sharon Wells turns up at his hospital bed with his nine-month-old son, Ethan. The blurb is a bit misleading because Sharon never actually says she is Ethan’s mother; it turns out the judge she was working for is the mother, but wasn’t particularly interested in raising her child, so she had Sharon raise him as his nanny. When the judge disappears, Sharon goes to Parker as instructed. They soon learn that the judge is dead, murdered, and that she has left Sharon guardianship of Ethan in her will.

Sharon is horrified at the thought of having to hand Ethan over to his father, and they soon learn they both have hits out on them for an obscene amount of money, so in order for them to ensure Ethan is not placed into care and that if something happen to one of them the other will retain guardianship, Penny suggests they legally marry right now. Since Parker finds himself attracted to Sharon and wants to protect both her and his child, he agrees. They’re married within 24 hours of meeting but aren’t out of danger yet.

It turns out that the judge is the reason they have hits on them, and they eventually work out the who and the why. They also realise they’re in love with each other and decide to stay married and raise Ethan together as their child.

I always enjoy reading books about the Paynes and this was no exception, but I did have a tough time swallowing how quickly Parker and Sharon fell for each other. I loved the character of Sharon and I could understand, given her history, why she felt safe around Parker and his family. But they really didn’t know anything about each other, and went through situations that would make even the toughest of people crazy. I also found the sex scene really sudden – it seemed to come out of nowhere.

The one thing that did drive me crazy was the constant reference of Parker being a ‘playboy’. Yep, I got it the first ten times. He even referred to himself as that when talking to his mother towards the end! I could have lived without that, but overall I enjoyed the book and must make a note to get a copy of Logan’s book (which comes before this one).