Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he’s indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him?
But Dru’s a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She’s also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray’s stalker. And she’s just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts–and their lives–to one another?
“When I first saw Dru,” Gray said, “she had five kids hanging off her and she was wearing a Thanksgiving sweatshirt and one of those little”-he made a motion above his head-“headbands that has, you know, holiday stuff sticking up out of it?”
“Sure!” Ashley said.
Dru pursed her lips.
Gray slid her look that said, Beware of laying a challenge in front of me, sweetheart. Because if you do, I’ll nail it.
[…] She didn’t blame him for answering Ashley’s questions in a way that maintained the cover story. But she did blame him for taking so much enjoyment in it at her expense, and for overdoing what could otherwise have been straightforward answers.
“Her headband had a turkey and leaves and a pumpkin on it,” Gray said.
“I just love holiday headbands!” Ashley replied. “That’s something we have in common, Dru.”
Um . . . “Yep.”
“I knew right then and there that I wanted to ask her out,” Gray continued.
“I wasn’t interested,” Dru said flatly. “I’d never heard of him before in my life.”
Ashley set both palms on the island and leaned forward. “What?! You’d never heard of Gray Fowler?”
“No. I’m guessing there are a lot of people who’ve never heard of him. Thousands.” She tugged the final mozzarella ball off the skewer and into her mouth. “Millions.”
“But, see, I liked that about you, babycakes – the fact that you weren’t swayed by my celebrity.” Gray leaned his hip against the counter.
Dru narrowed her eyes. Babycakes was going too far.
“It usually takes me half a minute to win a woman over,” Gray continued. “With you, it took me five whole minutes.”
“To the contrary. I’m still not won over. We preschool teachers attract men like flies, so we have the freedom to be very choosy.”
Ashley giggled, then cut the sound off. She looked between Dru and Gray, uncertain.
“I’ve made pot roast, potatoes, bread, and fresh green beans for dinner,” Ashley announced. “Sound okay?”
“Sounds great,” Gray answered. “Thanks, Ash.”
She dimpled. “Everything’s ready when you are.”
“We’ll be ready in about thirty minutes.” Gray picked up the platter of appetizers and made a head motion for Dru to follow him.
A head motion. As if she were his collie.
“Dru and I will probably be doing some pretty serious kissing.” Gray strode from the kitchen. “So hold my calls.”
Ashley tittered and blushed.
Dru followed him into a room off the front foyer that turned out to be his office. The luxurious space showcased leather furniture, walls of books, and a Persian rug in shades of cinnamon and beige.
“I’m going to need a tour of the entire floor plan,” Dru said.
“Later. Would you mind shutting the door? So we can get to the serious kissing?”
“You can shut your own door,” Dru shot back, standing in the middle of the room. “The only thing I’d like to do with you in a serious manner is bash in your head. […] Next time, just stick to the basics of my cover story. Don’t embellish.”
He set the platter on his desk, shut the door, and faced her. “I’d like to see you try to bash in my head. C’mon.” He made a beckoning motion with his hands. His lips tilted up at the edges. “Let’s see what you got.”
The Short Take
A spirited contemporary romance with feisty characters, snappy dialogue, and an emotional connection you will feel all the way to your toes. With a dash of suspense for the cherry on top!
Lusty (adj): healthy and strong; full of vigour; energetic, lively.
Okay. Now that we’ve got that definition straight, you won’t misunderstand me when I say that Her One and Only is a wonderfully lusty romance – in the best sense of the word! Dru and Gray are definitely in the running to be my favourite couple in the whole Porter Family series, with their feisty repartee and their forthright, driven personalities. They have Chemistry with a capital C! – And not just physical Chemistry. These characters have emotional Chemistry – that soul-deep connection that defies explanation. And if there’s one thing Becky Wade does well, it’s making her readers feel that Chemistry for themselves.
This story opens with a bang – literally – and then leaves you hanging, because from there we jump back three months to the day Dru arrives for her first shift as Gray’s bodyguard – Er… sorry. 😉 ‘Executive protection agent’. Gray’s not as concerned about the threats as his team managers and he finds the idea of Dru protecting him laughable, but she’s easy on the eyes and entertaining to rile, so he’ll go with it for now; especially since he’s talked her into pretending to be his girlfriend as a cover story.
For Dru, this is her first assignment back in the field after a protection job went bad eighteen months ago, leaving her with a fractured tibia and a question mark over her career. She’s determined to prove herself – expertly, doggedly, and exactly by-the-book; which means not getting emotionally attached to her client. No problems there. For starters, he plays for the Mustangs… Except that the more time they spend in each other’s company, the more they enjoy spending time in each other’s company – look forward to being in each other’s company, even – and that brings its own set of problems and disconcerting feelings. Instead of denying or ignoring them, these characters confront them head on, as only they could!
Aside from fantastic characters, one of the best things about this novel was the way the plot developed. There were several potential clichés that played out differently than I expected, which was really refreshing and so true to these characters. For example, the ‘can’t get emotionally involved with my client’ line is all-too-often an easy fallback when no other conflict exists, however, even though it was Dru’s primary concern, it took the story in a completely different direction. The ‘girlfriend cover story’ is another fairly clichéd plot device to force ‘romantic’ interactions on the couple, but with Dru and Gray it got turned on its head.
The one thing I thought could have been improved was the secondary storyline involving Meg and Bo, which is told via Meg’s point of view (POV). It was great to share this part of their story, but these sections were heavy on expository narrative (largely backstory, most of which will already be known to readers of the previous novels), rather than action and dialogue. Becky Wade’s writing is at its strongest when she cuts out the narrator voice and lets the character’s voice come through in free indirect speech (or deep POV). She did this well for the majority of the novel – another reason I enjoyed this book so much – but there were times when the writing lost that immediacy; the sections in Meg’s POV being a prime example.
If you’ve enjoyed getting to know the Porters, or you’re just looking for an endorphin-boosting contemporary romance, then you’re going to looooove this finale. I have no doubt I’ll be reading it again.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 3 May 2016
Publisher: Bethany House
Author’s website: http://www.beckywade.com
Previous books in the series