Passion flares when Payne Protection's newest recruit puts everything on the line to protect the mother of his child
Threats are nothing new for FBI special agent Nicholas Rus. But when a night of passion with girl-next-door Annalise Huxton puts her in the crosshairs, Nick knows he has to do something drastic. He'd do anything to protect her and her surprise baby bump
Annalise has always had feelings for Nick, but that doesn't mean she trusts him. Sure, he quit his job to become her personal bodyguard, but he went MIA after their heated night together. As their pursuers circle ever closer, Annalise lowers her guard, allowing their mutual desire to resurface. Nick has proven his intent to keep her and the baby safe, but can a reckless indiscretion lead to a lifetime of happiness?
Terrific action and suspense, with an excellent romance added in. Nick and Annalise had grown up as neighbors, with Nick being her brother's best friend. She felt as though she'd loved him forever, but Nick doesn't get close to anyone. He left home at eighteen and didn't come back until he found out Gage was missing. He came back to check on her and one thing led to another. Then he left again.
Six months later she comes to River City looking for her brother, who has gone to work for the Paynes. She's worried about him and she needs his help. Her house has been broken into multiple times. Instead, he is gone and she runs into Nick instead. Who immediately notices her baby bump, and rightly guesses who is responsible. He's also worried when he hears about the attacks and break-ins. He's certain that she is in danger because of him and is determined to protect her and the baby.
Annalise isn't all that happy about being close to Nick again. It's bringing back all her feelings for him and she doesn't want to get her heart broken again. It's obvious to her that he doesn't feel the same way or he wouldn't have been able to walk away so easily. But spending this much time with him, she's starting to get the feeling he's not as indifferent as she thought he was. All she has to do is show him what they could have together.
Nick grew up with an addict for a mother and no father. The closest thing to family that he had was Gage and Annalise. Gage was his friend, one who looked up to him and followed him into the Marines. Nick feels responsible for whatever had happened to him on his last deployment. Nick also feels guilty about sleeping with Annalise, because that's against the friend code. He can't deny the desire he feels for her, but he knows that she's looking for love, Not only has he never experienced it, he's not even sure what it feels like.
I ached for both of them because they were so sure that what they wanted was impossible. Annalise had a little more hope, because she knew that Nick was a good man and capable of more than he thinks. She just has no idea how to make him see it. Nick couldn't see that his protectiveness toward her was a big indicator of what his feelings were, but everyone around him could. It wasn't until he nearly lost her that he could admit it even to himself. I loved his big moment in the hospital.
The suspense of the story was really good, From the beginning the attacks seemed to be almost nonstop. Nick was certain that it was one of his enemies that was after him, and who had decided to use Annelise to get to him. But the more they looked at it, the more things didn't seem to add up. I loved the way that it was Nikki Payne, the sibling everyone tried to protect, that played the biggest part in figuring it out. I also loved seeing how all the members of the family were involved, always making sure that no one did anything unsupported. The final confrontation was intense and scary, especially with Annelise in such danger. I loved her part in ending it.
One of the biggest themes of the book was family. Nick discovered upon his mother's death that he was half-brother to the other Paynes. Though they were shocked and angry at first, since then all but Nikki have come to accept him. In this book, the relationship that develops between them actually began to be much more sibling-like. I loved their back and forth, especially when Nikki realized that she gets more respect from him than from her other brothers. I also loved the way that Penny Payne considered Nick to be one of her kids, even though he wasn't. Their connection was amazing. It took a long time for Nick to realize that he really does have a family now. I loved the wedding scene at the end.