Task Force Bride by Julie Miller

task force brideTitle: Task Force Bride

Author: Julie Miller

Mills & Boon imprint: Intrigue

Year of publication: 2013

The heroine: Wedding planner and shop owner Hope Lockhart

The hero: Cop Edison Pike Taylor

The blurb: Something about Hope Lockhart fascinated Officer Pike Taylor. The cop and his canine companion had been patrolling the neighbourhood around Hope’s bridal shop for months, trying to capture the criminal who targeted her. Was it the way she hid her voluptuous beauty beneath a plain Jane exterior?

Hope bore the scars of a troubling past. And despite a profession steeped in romance, she’d never known the love of a man. But when Pike is assigned to protect her by posing as her live-in fiance, his tenderness may give Hope the courage to open her heart for the very first time.

Standalone or series: Part of The Precinct: Task Force series, but can be read as a standalone. However, you should read this miniseries in order, because there are spoilers.

The review: Julie Miller is one of my favourite M&B authors. I know that when I pick up one of her books, I’m going to enjoy it… and this book was no exception. Hope Lockhart owns a bridal boutique and works as a wedding planner, which is an ironic choice of career for her because she doesn’t plan on ever getting married. She doesn’t plan on getting close to a man, ever. Her douchebag father, Hank, raised her in such a horrific environment after the death of her mother at age two that Hope trusts nobody. Her scars are not only physical, but also emotional.

Pike Taylor has known Hope for a year from patrolling the area where she lives and works. There is a serial rapist loose, dubbed the Rose Red Rapist. When Hope happens to see him one day, she’s thrust into the investigation and used as bait to draw this asshat out. He’s raped and murdered too many women already, and although she’s terrified of being around Pike and his K9 partner, Hans, she refuses to allow any more women to get hurt.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Hope, having gone through what she did. Hank the douchebag turns up suddenly, demanding she pay him to do odd jobs around the shop, and when she refuses… he agrees to distract the police for the rapist so that he can snatch Hope. Yep, Hank’s going for father of the year. Ugh.

While it’s easy to pity Hope, you can’t help but applaud her tenacity and strength to overcome the terror she feels and help the police. Pike helps her slowly come out of her shell – Hope has never been in a relationship before and has never had sex because of her enormous trust issues, which you can’t blame her for once you find out about her childhood – and agrees to pose as her fiancé to keep her safe. Turns out that’s a role he wants for real, and luckily Hope falls in love with him, too.

The identity of the rapist was spoilt for me because as I started reading, I realised I’ve already read the book that comes directly after this one, Yuletide Protector, which had already identified the rapist. It didn’t detract from the book at all, though. Go, read this miniseries. Read any Julie Miller book. You won’t be sorry.