Type: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
My Copy: Sent
Love is the most dangerous territory of all . . .
Every day, bodyguard Owen Jackson puts his life on the line — and keeps his feelings for Penny Sandoval locked away. Assigned to protect Penny’s father, a presidential candidate, Owen can’t get emotionally involved. That is, until Penny and her young son, Cruz, are abducted and taken deep into the California badlands.
Owen knows the bleak territory from his childhood. Worse, he knows the gang leader making ransom demands — his own brother, Shane. When a terrified Penny escapes into the desert with Cruz, Owen has to save her: from the elements and from the gang in close pursuit. Owen has hidden the darkness in his past from Penny. Now his only chance of keeping her alive is to let her see the man he really is — even if it means losing the only woman he’ll ever want.
As a presidential candidates daughter, Penny is used to being in the spotlight. Even though she wishes she could stay out of it and shield her young son Cruz, her father has always had a hold over her and he usually gets what he wants. What Penny wants can be boiled down to one answer, a who. She craves her fathers bodyguard Owen like nothing else. Yet he is aloof and uneffected by her even after all these years.
When Penny and Cruz are kidnapped Owen knows he has to get them back. He may appear unaffected by the Mexican beauty but in truth he would give anything to have her. His past is filled with vicious events and even worse people and it looks like they have finally come to collect. Knowing his own brother may be behind the abduction leaves Owen no choice but to put his life on the line for the two people that mean the most to him. He’ll get them back, or die trying.
Badlands was a book I was eager to get to for good reason. When looking at the back cover it hinted at everything I want in a romantic suspense. Two individuals from completely different walks for life, kids, action, adventure, love and sacrifice. Yet as I cracked this one open and delved deeper into the world Sorenson had created I found myself feeling conflicted.
I enjoyed Penny and Cruz immensely. Here was a woman who had managed to achieve a lot and under circumstances less than perfect. Even though she had plenty of money from her family she didn’t do what a lot of women in her position would have. She chose not to live off that money. She instead finished school, got her degree and managed to take care of her son without his father in the picture. Cruz, being a small child, was adorable and his interactions with Owen were priceless. She was a strong heroine. Even during the worst of situation she holds herself together and doesn’t panic.
It should come as no surprise if you’ve been with me a while that I love alpha males. I want alpha males. I want their protection. Their strength. I don’t mind flaws because it usually makes the draw more magnetic for me. Scarred heroes…either physically or emotionally are my Kryptonite. Owen…sigh…Owen didn’t work for me. It pains me to say that because I WANTED him to knock my socks off. But he was too closed off because of his horrendous past and encounters. He had unspeakable things happen to him while in jail (do I need to go into detail…I hope not) and because of that he was really really scarred emotionally. To the point where it was near impossible for him to be intimate. So that area was very slow going and I needed more heat. I understood why the sexual progression of these two was stunted…but I still wanted more. And he cried. A lot. Again, I understood why he cried but it just didn’t work for me. I don’t want criers. I want saviors. And while he did manage to save the day, it is a romance after all, he just wasn’t enough to entice this reader.
Past the lack of sexual attraction, I enjoyed the other aspects of the book. There was plenty of action as Penny, Owen and Cruz try to get away from their captors and then later on as Penny and Owen try to put an end to those intent on harming them. Owen tries his best to reason with his brother but their bleak upbringing seems to have leant compassion to only one brother. While Owen maintained his humanity and still felt guilt over his past actions, his brother didn’t seem to be nearly as affected by his.
It might have helped if I read this first two books in this series before starting this one. We’ll never know. While I liked the core of the book and the story line, Sorenson lost me in the romance department. I will definitely pick up something else in the future though as I have a feeling this might be an isolated occurrence with this author.
I give Badlands by Jill Sorenson 3 stars!