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.

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).