Unguarded, by Tracy Wolff

>> Monday, February 07, 2011

TITLE: Unguarded
AUTHOR: Tracy Wolff

PAGES: 288
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Superromance

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Category romance
SERIES: I'm pretty sure it's linked to another of Wolff's books, but I'm looking at her backlist and can't tell which one now (mainly because I wrote this review a while ago, and now I can't remember the names of the secondary characters!).

REASON FOR READING: KristieJ's review

Rhiannon Jenkins is an events planner on the rise. And her latest client, Shawn Emerson, could make her career. Too bad the gorgeous man insists on mixing a lot of pleasure with his business. In Rhiannon's books getting involved with a client is the fastest way to exit a job. So, no. She'll resist all his come-get-me looks and tempting offers.

While his charm is easy to overlook, Shawn in the role of confidant and friend breaks down all her best defenses. Suddenly the tables turn and she wants to be close to him. That means opening up about the ugly events of her past—a risk she hasn't taken before now. Oh, but he could be so worth it!
Party planner Rhiannon Jenkins is not inclined to mix business with pleasure, but her new client, Sean Emerson, is too smitten with her to accept her brush-offs. But Sean has his work cut out for him. Not only is Rhiannon quite a few years older than him, she is also a rape survivor, and is still recovering from the devastating trauma.

Unguarded was wonderful. I'm very, very glad Kristie posted about it, because otherwise I probably wouldn't have heard about it. It's got characters I really liked and who felt really modern and contemporary, as well as a romance where the issues are not necessarily the ones you would expect.

I admired Rhiannon to bits. Too often in romance novels when the heroine is a rape survivor (and this was a particularly horrific one), she ends up having no personality BUT rape survivor. That's all she is, instead of a full blown character. This was not the case for Rhiannon at all. There's so much more than that to her, and though she's got fears and issues she has to work through during the book, she's also much more than a bunch of neuroses and fears. She's got a wicked sense of humour and a really cool personality that fits Shawn's perfectly. This makes him the right man for her, regardless of the fact that he's the one with whom she takes back her sexuality. It's not just about that, and I loved the book for it.

I loved Shawn almost as much as Rhiannon. I loved that he's a cool, contemporary guy. He's not your garden variety ageless CEO, he's in his 20s and feels in his 20s. But Wolff manages to make him playful and young without making him in the least immature. He's not unbelievably perfect, either. Yes, he's dreamy, but he´s also very human. He hasn't had it easy on the relationship front, with an ex who had so many issues that he's still exhausted from the fallout. When it becomes clear to him that Rhiannon has a boatload of issues as well (if not 100% exactly what happened), Shawn has his doubts. Is he ready to do this? Can he do this again? But wolff strikes the perfect balance between doubt and the realisation that Rhiannon and her problems are nothing like his ex's. I also liked that Shawn is very much a hero in pursuit, but in a completely non-creepy way. His persistence is gentle and non-threatening.

The age difference was also very well dealt with. Wolff made just the right amount of fuss about it. It was quite a significant age difference, but Rhiannon worried about just the things I would worry about and not about the pointless ones. And once it was established to her satisfaction that it was ok, then it was ok.

KristieJ says in her review that the only reason she gave Unguarded just shy of a 5 star review was that it was a scene too short, and she was left wanting to see the party Rhiannon and Shawn spend the book planning. I definitely agree! Reading about it wouldn't have been enough for me, though, I wanted to actually go to the party, it sounded so fantastic!

Unguarded places Tracy Wolff square on my to-watch list.

MY GRADE: I was thinking B+ when I started this review, but through writing it I've kind of convinced myself this was actually an A-.


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