Release Date: August 5, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Romance
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.
"Ever notice, disasters always seem to strike on the prettiest days? Like Mother Nature is laughing at you?"-Shelly
I always get nervous over sequels especially when I loved the first book. I've had my share of sophomore slump and I was a bit skeptical over GUARDED because the heroine, Shelly Morgan, can talk to animals. *head scratch*
I mean a pet whisperer? I don't know how animal telepathy fits in the scheme of things. From a medium to an animal telepath?! *head scratch*
Obviously all my worries were for naught because I enjoyed GUARDED a lot. It's like The Animal Planet and ID-TV decided to co-produce a movie together, like a dark and deadly version of Dr. Doolittle. The gist is exotic and wild animals are slowly disappearing from the local zoo and Shelly Morgan, the town's veterinarian, thinks there's something sinister going on in the background. She sought the help of an old college buddy and current Tidewater detective, Dev Jones, to help her investigate. Soon enough bodies started dropping and Shelly is being framed for murder.
I'll start with the romance. Shelly and Dev's is one of rekindling as they've known each other for a while and always had a crush on each other. This time around the stars aligned which made it possible for them to reconnect in more ways than one. *wink wink* I like Shelly enough, she's a little awkward, clumsy, and her ability gives her a quirky air. I like Dev too, he didn't go hardcore Alpha but demonstrated an appropriate degree of possessiveness and protectiveness towards Shelly to reinforce his attraction to her. The heat level in GUARDED is a few notches lower than Spirited, it's still there but not as pressing as with the first book.
The whodunit was greatly written and made up for the minimal steam. I love it when the authors lets us in the villain's mind, giving them their own chapters so we get a clear sense of how dangerous they are and what motivates them. Until the identity of the killer/robber/animal-napper was revealed, I never had a clue of who was behind the theft and murders. The secondary characters were wonderful additions too, they added a lot of flavor to an otherwise small-town mystery and I got invested in them, especially the kid Beau, as much as I did for Shelly and Dev.
For me the hook of GUARDED lies on Shelly's reunion with her sister Jules. They've been separated when they were teens after their parents died and they went to foster care. Since then, Jules have been searching for her sisters, Shelly and Hannah, so their reunion was much anticipated on my part. I love how understated it was, how it wasn't this big drama-fest filled with tears and snot. It was heartfelt but very grown up and I can't wait til all three sisters are united and see what comes after that.