BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review of Justice by Karen Robards

Publisher: Gallery Books


Release Date: July 19, 2011


More Info: Amazon    The Book Depository

Book Blurb (from Amazon):

New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards is back with an exhilarating romantic thriller that will leave readers breathless. 
Feisty criminal attorney Jessica Ford has done her best to comply with the orders of the Secret Service’s unofficial witness protection program ever since she became the lone witness to the First Lady’s murder. She changed her name, dyed her dark hair blonde, and traded her sturdy black-rimmed glasses for contact lenses. Unfortunately, winning her first high-profile case for prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm Ellis Hayes, and subsequently landing her face all over the news, is not exactly “keeping a low profile.” Or so says hunky Secret Service agent Mark Ryan, whose newest assignment—despite Jess’s stubborn protests—is keeping her safe at all costs. It just so happens he’s also her ex-boyfriend. 

The trial earns Jess a permanent spot on the firm’s elite legal defense team, replacing an associate who eloped suddenly and never came back. It’s the chance of a lifetime. But Jess’s mind has raced with questions from the moment the prosecution’s star witness shocked the courtroom with an electrifying revelation involving the handsome son of a powerful U.S. senator. Was the pretty, young mother intimidated into changing her story on the stand? Why will she not return Jess’s calls? Did Jess’s ambitious predecessor on the case really just abandon her successful career? Or did both women mysteriously disappear? 

After Mark rescues Jess from an attacker outside her apartment, she begins to consider the possibility that she is a target. Maybe it’s not so bad to have her irresistibly charming and hard-bodied former lover around for protection. Maybe. The question is, which of the many inadvertent enemies Jess has made recently is he protecting her from? The investigation leads her to some startling coincidences—and to a teenage runaway who may just hold the missing link . . . if Jess can find her. 

As Jess hurtles closer to the truth—and the sexual tension between her and Mark grows hotter than ever—she finds herself in a race against the clock to find the answers before what she doesn’t know gets them both killed. 

My Thoughts:

"Justice" is a follow up of sorts to 2009's "Pursuit". We first met Jess and Mark in that book when Jess was the sole survivor of a car accident involving the First Lady of the US. You can read this book as a stand alone but I would suggest reading "Pursuit" first to get a handle on why exactly Jess and Mark believe that she is in danger in this book. I enjoyed this one more than I did "Pursuit".

Because of the events in "Pursuit" Jess is supposed to be keeping a low profile. She is in the Secret Service's version of Witness Protection. I don't know if such a thing really exists or if Robards made it up but I have to say, they don't seem very competent. Jess stays in her same apartment, works in the same career field and makes only minor changes to her name and appearance. How exactly is that supposed to keep her safe? I didn't quite get it. Naturally, she blows her low profile and her low cover. So Mark, a Secret Service agent who's responsible for her safety shows back up to provide guard duty, or babysitting duty as Jess snidely calls it. She and Mark got involved in the last book, broke up in the interim between books, and she's still bitter. Actually, they both are bitter but Mark handles it more maturely.

Because of the events in the prior book, Mark believes that a hit man may be after Jess. Jess though, as she digs into the cases she inherited when she took on her new job, comes to believe that it's current events that have her in danger. They disagree, with Mark belittling Jess' reasoning and Jess reluctant to admit that he might possibly be right.

There are actually three story threads running through this book - that of another lawyer, Allison Howard, whom Jess replaces in the middle of a case; two teenage runaways, Lucy and Jaden; and then Jess and Mark. The focus in on Jess and Mark but the others are all important to the overall story line, and Robards alternates viewpoints among Jess, Mark, and Lucy, with a brief bit of time spent inside Allison's head. They are all interconnected though Robards takes her time revealing exactly how and throwing us a few surprises along the way.

Parts of the story are predictable - the outcome of the case, the accused's responsibilty, the clashes between Jess and Mark, but there are also twists and turns. Jess's computer skills were convenient to the storyline, a little too convenient since we aren't given reason for them or an explanation for how she acquired them. Robards wrote interesting characters and Jess's family could easily be a series unto themselves. I got annoyed with Jess at times with the way she treated Mark, both personally and professionally and I didn't buy Mark's  objections to Jess having a full-time career. His objections didn't come across as valid but more as the required obstacle to two lovers being together.

Despite the flaws, the book held my attention and I read it in just a couple of sittings. It flowed well and I enjoyed the characters and the interactions. It's pretty standard Robards material and pretty standard romantic suspense but if you like either of those, you should pick this one up. You'll enjoy it.

I received this hardcover from the publisher for review.

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