I rarely read romantic suspense or thrillers anymore, because they’re all about the sex and lust when what I enjoy the most is the connection. Way to make me eat my words. It’s not that there isn’t sensual and explicit sex in Under Pressure, because there is, at least to the level of a modern contemporary romance, but there’s more to the romance than just that. Heavy thriller readers might find this a little lighter on that aspect, but the danger isn’t lacking either.
Though there’s definitely a crisis of life and death, and one with more than one true villain, there’s also a lot of downtime where the two of them get to know each other and turn that instant soulmate connection into something deeper and more complicated. These are times when they are safe, or at least believe themselves to be, so they can just be people and you can see their relationship develop. They spend a good portion of the book sequestered, which doesn’t mean nothing happens or that they don’t keep trying to piece together the scope of the danger. Cat makes this task more difficult because she’s determined to keep her bodyguards safe by keeping them ignorant. Part of the sequestered time is spent with Leese trying to get her to reveal all she knows.
Leese kicks ass as a bodyguard¸ and former MMA (mixed martial arts) professional fighter, but Cat is pretty darn effective herself if not in the physical violence way. She’s smart, has excellent survival skills and instincts, and is determined not to be a victim or put anyone else at risk no matter what. She even shows calm under pressure and quick thinking when quite rightly terrified. Some of the villains are more villainous than others, while just who is leading the charge against her is complicated in all sorts of good ways.
Cat’s been told her whole life that she’s the awkward one who is passable and mediocre. It takes a special guy to let her start to see the person she really is. Leese might struggle with her need to protect him as much as she does his need to slay her dragons and risk himself in the process, but he doesn’t cut her down or undermine her growing confidence to do so.
The book is an indictment of corruption and evil men hiding behind wealth and smiles, but even there it’s not exactly as it seems, with good plot seeding and not as broad sweeps as it might appear. It definitely serves as an intriguing introduction to a series crossing bodyguards with MMA fighters as well. With Sahara (another fascinating person) at the helm of Body Armor, I suspect there are many interesting stories ahead. She believes there’s no reason why bodyguards can’t look fantastic at the same time as being competent at their jobs.
I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Leese and Cat either. They are both good people of the type that makes a difference in the world, a trend among many of the “good guys” introduced here. If this is where the thriller romance genre is maturing, it just might be time to head over to that section of the shelf again.
P.S. I received this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.