Gennita Low’s newest release is too ambitious and the story demands too much attention to details. Civilians, operatives, agents, drug lords, exotic locations, disguises, secrets, betrayals, undercover work. The Protector is not easy, and for most readers looking primarily for a romance it will seem tedious having to first learn everything about the operation, before there is anything to learn about the main protagonists’ relationship. In my opinion, here the wait for the first touch, the first embrace, the first kiss is too long for a romance novel. Intimate touches to heat up the pages holding together a story of adventure, danger and intrigue are too few.
Still, it’s an interesting story. Set in Southeast Asia you’ve got the exotic location with its foreign scents, tastes, sounds and textures. And Gennita Low does evoke all the reader’s senses. In Vivi Verreau she’s created a woman driven to find the one she left behind, to right a wrong. She is part of GEM, but working independently. She’s working her agency’s mission, trying to apprehend the ones dealing in weapons, drugs and women and her own mission, rescuing young girls from a life of prostitution. It’s dealing with her own guilt and prejudice towards women in general.
Then there is Jazz. A SEAL. A man to protect and to rescue damsels in distress. Sent to work alongside GEM he’s in for a surprise with Vivi. Here is a woman holding her own, leading an operation, commanding men. But there is more to her and Jazz makes it his mission to find out how to become part of her life, how to rescue her, protect her and most importantly help her.
Through all you here Gennita Low’s voice. It’s intense and maybe sometimes just a little bit too overwhelming. Her heroine is strong (and I do like them that way!), the sex is fierce and the relationship volatile. The hero is a little too macho, too protective for my liking. I sure understand his reasoning, as Gennita Low makes sure to spell out her characters’ backgrounds and so reveal their motivations. But understanding doesn’t necessarily mean liking it.
To sum it up. Too much action, too many characters. Not enough time for the main protagonists to interact with each other. An extra 100 pages would have been necessary and could have then slowed down the relationship, giving Jazz and Vivi the chance to reveal their growing admiration and love for each other to the reader. And a few peaceful moments thrown in would have helped me breath after some of the non-stop action and the immense amount of (well researched) information forced at me.
A note to readers unfamiliar with Gennita Low’s previous books. Do yourself a favor and read them all in order, or small references to past encounters and their implications will be lost on you. Having read Facing Fear and Into Danger also allows you to skip over the paragraphs filled with strategic and military lingo that otherwise do slow down the pace.
I expected differently from The Protector and maybe it’s my unfilled desires that color this review. It’s not a bad book, but I am a little disappointed. Not in the author, but in her story. I had hoped for more of a romance and less of an action adventure. However, it won’t keep me from yearning for another dose of her GEM and COS operatives. For more kick-ass heroines and equally strong heroes. Especially as it is Hawk’s story coming up, a man deserving of his own book. I’m also hoping for more of T. and Diamond.