Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 352
Date of Publication: July 19, 2022
My Rating: 5 Stars
A Navy SEAL will need every bit of his extensive skill set when he appoints himself as bodyguard to a woman determined not to need one in this thrilling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.
Grace Isabel MacKenna had a hundred things to do today. Killing someone wasn’t one of them. It was supposed to be a quick visit to Boston for the Buchanan anniversary party, then on to Scotland to collect an inheritance. She checks into the hotel and then decides to go for a brisk walk. But after getting lost she ends up with a wounded man stumbling into her arms, and then his shooter coming after them both. When she fires back in self-defense, she doesn’t expect him to drop dead. Thanks to the Buchanans dispatching Navy SEAL and now a lawyer Michael Buchanan to help her deal with the police, Isabel endures hours of interrogation and is finally free to go.
Isabel knows she should be grateful for Michael’s help, but since she’s harbored an extreme dislike for him for years, gratitude is difficult to muster. Michael has appointed himself her de facto guardian, and she’s stuck with him despite their constant bickering and sizzling attraction. Even when Isabel goes to Scotland to claim her inheritance, Michael follows her, but he isn’t the only thing she can’t shake. Mysterious threats against Isabel surface, and before they can deal with their growing feelings for each other, Michael and Isabel must first survive.
Killing a man is something that Grace Isabel MacKenna will never forget. She knows the unavoidable act will keep her up for many nights to come. Her trip to Boston was supposed to be short-lived, and her next travels will be to take her to Scotland. She has received an inheritance but must go to Scotland in person in order to claim it.
Her plans change considerably when a man falls into her arms while being chased by a shooter. Whether in survival mode or acting on instinct she is able to grab a flailing gun and manages to shoot the attacker between the eyes. She killed a man. Not how she expected her day to go. Not at all.
Quite naturally she must be questioned by the police, but she doesn't have to face this alone. Michael Buchanan, Navy SEAL and lawyer, not only accompanies her but soon acts as her protector. There is a catch. Isabel has been harboring a great dislike for him. Isabel's connection to Michael is that her sister Kate recently married his brother. In fact, Michael and Isabel met at that wedding and clashed almost from the moment they met. This dislike proves contrary to the strong physical attraction that she has for Michael, especially considering the fact that he is equally drawn to her.
Danger follows Isabel's every move, and as far as Michael is concerned, he will keep her safe. Meanwhile, even before Isabel can board a plane to Scotland, she gets the opportunity to exhibit her song-writing talent and singing by performing with a huge star. What is not clear to Isabel is that shooting from earlier has placed her in the line of fire, and her sudden stardom easily keeps her in the killer's crosshairs.
What a delightful read! Although this book is very deep into a long series, I was able to read and enjoy it as a standalone novel. However, I immediately fell in love the Buchanan family and can easily see myself devouring this series from the beginning, and following the series as future books are released.
Julie Garwood writes with flair. Not only does this book keep the reader's attention with the drama, action, danger, romantic elements and mystery, Ms. Garwood has a sense of humor that shines through the pages of this story. There were more than a few times that I found myself chuckling at the way things were worded.
Excellent pacing, two excellent protagonists, a strong supporting set of characters, really worked remarkably well to create a fabulous story from beginning to end. This might have been the first book that I have read by Julie Garwood, but it certainly won't be my last.
Many thanks to Berkley and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
Please enjoy the following excerpt:
GRACE UNDER FIRE by Julie Garwood
Berkley Hardcover | On sale July 19, 2022
Isabel MacKenna had a hundred things to do today. Killing someone wasn't one of them.
She had such high hopes this morning when she dragged herself out of bed at the ungodly hour of five a.m. She had made detailed plans for the day that lay ahead, and she would have sailed through them if two unfortunate incidents hadn't waylaid her. The first was an irritating inconvenience; the second, a terrifying nightmare.
Scheduled to take an early flight on a no-frills, but supercheap airline to Boston, she arrived at the airport in plenty of time to go through security. She was dressed for comfort in a pair of snug jeans and a light pink T-shirt. Her long blond hair was up in a ponytail, and she wore a Red Sox baseball cap her brother-in-law, Dylan, had given her. She checked her luggage, which was packed for a trip to Scotland the following week, and carried her backpack that held everything she would need for the next few days. It was so stuffed she was pretty sure it weighed more than she did. The first time she attempted to swing it over her shoulder she nearly did a backflip. Fortunately, once she was on the plane, another passenger helped her lift it into the overhead compartment.
She had been assigned a window seat, and she planned to go to sleep as soon as the plane took off. In hindsight, perhaps her expectations were naive. From past experience she had learned that there was never anything smooth or easy about flying, and today was no exception. Once she boarded, she was trapped, and a flight that should have taken a little under three hours ended up taking seven and a half, thanks to the fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants airline and the mechanical problems they were sure maintenance could fix in no time at all. The captain made the passengers sit on the plane for two full hours before they were allowed to go back into the terminal to continue their wait while repairs were completed. After another grueling hour passed, they were told a relief plane was being flown in to take them to Boston. Apparently, the fix-it-in-no-time-at-all plane couldn't be fixed.
It was a miserable flight. It began with Isabel plastered up against the window while two overly friendly college students in the seats next to her took turns hitting on her. They seemed to be in some sort of competition to hold her attention and get her phone number. One was in his seventh year at a college in Arizona. In the course of his monologue he sheepishly admitted he still didn't have enough credits to graduate. The other one was in his third year at Colorado State and had changed his major so many times he couldn't remember what it now was. Isabel thought maybe there was a little something extra baked into the cookies he was munching on. She was pretty sure he was stoned.
Being polite to the nonstop talkers took effort, for exhaustion was pressing down on her . . . and no wonder. She had gotten only three hours of sleep the night before, and the last several weeks had been brutal, with papers due and finals to study for, not to mention packing up almost everything she owned and shipping it back home to Silver Springs, South Carolina, leaving only some of her clothes and personal items. Finally, graduation. She had hoped both of her sisters would be there for the ceremony, but Kiera, the older of the two, was in the middle of a demanding medical residency and couldn't take time off from work to attend. Her other sister, Kate, and her husband, Dylan, were there to see her walk across the stage and get her diploma. She was on her way now to meet them at Nathan's Bay, Dylan's family home just outside Boston. Judge and Mrs. Buchanan, Dylan's parents, were celebrating their anniversary, and their big family was gathering for the occasion. Isabel was happy to be invited to the festivities. The Buchanans were so warm and welcoming, and she looked forward to a week of fun and relaxation.
Then she and Kate were off to Scotland to see Glen MacKenna, the property she would soon inherit from her crusty and-she had it on good authority-horribly mean great-uncle. The land was located in the Highlands, and Isabel was anxious to see it. Kate and Dylan had given her the trip as a graduation present.
After she returned from Scotland, her plans were uncertain. Maybe the trip would give her some insight into what her future would be.
Once the plane was in flight to Boston and the incessant chattering of her seatmates had died down, Isabel rested her head against the porthole window. She was feeling horrible. She had thrown up-a couple of times, as a matter of fact-as soon as she'd rolled out of bed, and now her head was pounding. She closed her eyes and tried to sleep, but the drummer banging away on the inside of her eyelids wouldn't let up.
Please also enjoy my YouTube video review -
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Creating stories was always a passion for Julie, but she didn’t focus on making it a career until the youngest of her three children entered school. After the publications of two young adult books, she turned her interests to historical fiction. Her first novel, GENTLE WARRIOR, was published in 1985, and there has been a steady parade of bestsellers ever since. Today more than 40-million copies of her books are in print, and they are translated in dozens of languages around the world. One of her most popular novels, FOR THE ROSES, was adapted for a HALLMARK HALL OF FAME production on CBS.
Whether the setting be medieval Scotland, Regency England, frontier Montana, or modern-day Louisiana, her themes are consistent: family, loyalty, and honor. Readers claim that it’s the humor as well as poignancy of her novels that keep them coming back for more. Julie described her goals this way: “I want my readers to laugh and cry and fall in love. Basically, I want them to escape into another world for a little while and afterwards to feel as though they’ve been on a great adventure.”
Julie lives in Leawood, Kansas, and is currently working on her next novel.