Series: Tidewater #2
Published by Berkley on August 5, 2014
Genres: Paranormal mystery, Paranormal romantic suspense
Source: the author
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Also in this series: Spirited, Harmonized, Energized
Also by this author: Spirited, Harmonized, Energized
She’s given up on finding love…Veterinarian Shelley Morgan has always preferred animals to humans, and not simply because she can communicate with them psychically. Unlike most people she’s known, animals have never broken her heart. But after six months in her new town, some of her favorite four-legged companions begin disappearing from the local zoo. Determined to track down the animals and their thief, the telepathic vet decides to investigate, unknowingly delving into a deadly mystery…
He’s ready to make her heart go wild…Although his bear-like physique has been an advantage in the Tidewater Police Department, Dev Jones’s size often intimidates people. Only Shelley has seen past his massive build to the intelligent man inside, but that was years ago. So when she contacts him requesting his help to solve a series of animal kidnappings, he’s eager to reconnect with her. But the thefts escalate to murder and all the evidence points to Shelley as the killer, and Dev faces a devastating choice: forsake his career or risk losing the woman he’s grown to love…
I received a review copy of this book from the author.
Guarded picks up shortly after Spirited left off. Seth’s partner, Dev Jones, has located Jules’s missing sister Shelley – and she needs his help. Animals are going missing from a local private zoo, and she wants to find out who is behind it. For Dev, this is double good fortune; he’ll help Shelley with her mystery, bring her back to Tidewater to reunite with her sister, and maybe get a chance to tell her how he’s felt about her since college. But nothing’s ever that easy where the Scott sisters are involved.
I’m not sure, but I think I liked this book even more than Spirited. Both main characters are very likable, even if Shelley does have a tendency to pull away anytime she feels someone getting close emotionally. There’s a lot of pain in her past, leaving her really unwilling to risk being hurt again. I understood, but I was really rooting for her to get over it. On the other hand, I love her protectiveness toward the animals and her rapport with them. I’ve often wished I could know what the animals around me are thinking! Mary Behre put some interesting limits on Shelley’s abilities: she doesn’t get words when she communicates with an animal, just pictures, and only if she’s looking the animal in the eye. And then there is the weirdness with dogs; they don’t like to be around her at all. Behre doesn’t anthropomorphize the animals, although sometimes they seem smarter or more purposeful than real animals would be (especially in the climactic scenes.)
I fell in love with Dev from the start — from the last book, actually. He’s always had feelings for Shelley years ago, but because she was dating a friend of his, he kept his distance. Now she’s single, but he’s still slow to make a move or let her know how he feels — except that the attraction between them simmers constantly, heating up as they spend more time together. Their relationship isn’t easy, due to Shelley’s deep-seated fear of trusting anyone with her heart, but it’s so clear that they’re right for each other. Dev is the sort of quiet, upstanding, honorable guy that always steals my heart: protective, loving, tender, and steadfast, not a domineering alpha male but every bit as strong and masculine. (Not that different from the man I married, come to think of it!)
There are several other things I really enjoyed about the book. Behre puts us inside the killer’s head without giving away who it is (other than male.) Since there were several possible candidates, I never did figure it whodunnit. It’s an effective tactic in both books, and particularly in this one. The mystery and the romance seem well-balanced, too, with the tensions of one playing off the tensions of the other. The subplot involving Shelley’s and Jules’s reunion weaves almost seamlessly with the main mystery, as Seth and Dev are assigned to an investigation that seems connected with Shelley’s small town. We get to see quite a bit more of Dev’s cousins, Ian and Ryan, both ex-military types who run a private security-and-investigation firm; I’m pretty sure they’ll be heroes in their own stories down the road (although one of them needs to learn a little more respect! No doubt he will.)
One character really stole my heart: a little boy named Beau. An orphan, Beau is a foster child, which gives him something in common with Shelley and her sister Jules. Beau’s foster mother doesn’t treat him well at all. He’s a sweet little boy despite the emotional and occasionally physical abuse he has suffered, and I really wanted a happy ending for him. But by the middle of the book, I really wasn’t sure where things were headed for him. Behre has killed off sympathetic characters before, and she does it again in this book (and no, I’m not telling you whom, but it made me sad.) Let’s just say that Jules’s ability to speak with ghosts comes in very handy once again, and there is plenty of suspense, mystery, danger, and romance to keep you turning the pages.
About my only problem with Guarded is that, as in the last book, the heroine seems to bounce back from the trauma of murder and imminent personal danger a bit too easily. (I know I would be an emotional wreck for weeks, probably months.) And in this case, so does another character. (Again, I can’t say who because spoilers.) I’m not saying there are no after-effects, but they don’t seem as strong or lasting as I would expect in the circumstances. And everything gets tied up very neatly at the end — but then, I’m a sucker for a happy ending, so I really wouldn’t want it any other way.
On the whole, though, I’m loving this series and can’t wait for book three!
I’ve got a signed paperback copy of Spirited, the first book in the Tidewater series, for one lucky reader! (Sorry; US and Canadian readers only.) Please make sure Rafflecopter has a current, valid email address for you, or I can’t let you know if you win!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Summer Vacation 2014