Well-paced and wonderful romance with a suspense/mystery edge. “Guarding Jess” was my first read from Shannon Curtis, pertaining to a no-nonsense bodyguard – Noah – falling for his client, an etiquette author named Jessica (Jess). Jess isn’t sure why she would ever have a stalker in her line of work, and she’s not happy about needing a bodyguard to hinge in her daily activities. Between threatening letters, a package that detonates, and mysterious strangers following her, Jess is in the line of fire and Noah – in so many words – just wants to keep his client alive.
I enjoyed getting to know both Noah and Jess, and found their back and forth exchanges interesting to watch. The story toggles between harrowing moments where Jess’s life is at stake and it threatens the well-being of herself, her family and friends. Notably there are losses in this that don’t come across without weight. Yet, the story also had very cute moments (like when Jess coughs milk onto Noah when he startles her one night) and nicely accented intimate moments between the characters. It’s a quick read, realistic and well drawn for both the main characters as well as the secondary ones. Despite it being a short read, I connected with them as the narrative went on. I did think the reveal of the stalker was surprising, though odd considering the reason given over why they stalked and threatened Jess in the first place, but the surrounding developments and lead-ins up to the point of the reveal were done well.
I would certainly recommend this for a quick, thrilling and romantic read, and I’m not hesitating to try more of Curtis’s work in the future.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Carina Press.