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Sunday, June 1, 2014

ARC Review: The Defender by Adrienne Giordano

Categories are my new book crack. I’d thoroughly enjoyed Adrienne Giordano’s first entry in the Harlequin Intrigue line, THE PROSECUTOR, and wanted to be BFFs with that hero’s sister, so I was really looking forward to reading THE DEFENDER and meeting the man tough (or crazy) enough to take on fearless defence attorney Penny Hennings. Though THE DEFENDER follows THE PROSECUTOR, it can be read as a standalone and delivers a story that is classic Adrienne Giordano: fast-paced, full of witty repartee, sexy and sweet, and with two strong protagonists that are perfect for each other in the most real way.

THE DEFENDER starts off with a bang, with someone taking shots at sassy Chicago defence attorney Penny Hennings and her legendary father during an impromptu press conference on the courthouse steps and hunky FBI Special Agent Russell “Russ” Voight stepping in to save the day. The threat is related to a stock fraud case Russ has worked for over a year and that needs the testimony from one of Penny’s clients to put the perpetrator in jail for life. In true suspense fashion, we know the villain’s identity from the beginning; the tension ratchets up with every chapter as the threat to Penny’s and her client’s lives escalates and Penny and Russ must work closely together despite essentially seeing each other as “the enemy”. The fact that the hero and heroine stand on opposite sides of the great divide—the way Russ sees it, Penny’s job is to dismantle months/years of work law enforcement officers busted their asses on—but are hopelessly drawn to each other makes for a fascinating and endlessly entertaining relationship dynamic, and I found myself flipping pages equally driven by the desire to see the villain get his comeuppance and by the Russ-and-Penny show. Since essentially eviscerating Russ on the stand during cross-examination a few months ago (and earning herself the moniker ‘Killer Cupcake’), he has featured prominently in Penny’s fantasies even though he has the worst possible job for a defence attorney. Russ is, in his own words, a “sick, demented man” because he can’t help wanting Penny after that verbal lashing—even though he has an innate dislike for defence lawyers and falling for her could derail the fraud case he’s so invested in. Watching them waver between they should do (keep their hands off each other) and what they want to do (jump into bed, stat) is equal parts hilarious and sweet. I really enjoyed Russ and Penny as a couple because they perfectly complement each other despite their differences, and I absolutely loved how Russ just gets and knows how to go with Penny’s pushier whirlwind personality.

Ms. Giordano excels at writing characters that are layered and real, and Penny and Russ are no exception. In THE PROSECUTOR, Penny comes across as an unflappable, tough-as-nails attorney who will go to any length to protect her clients, kicking ass and taking names along the way. That same strength is apparent in THE DEFENDER, but we also get a look behind the Killer Cupcake fa├žade and see the insecurities of a woman who’s spent her adult life trying to prove her professional worth and that her job at her father’s prestigious law firm was earnt and not simply given to her because of her surname. I wanted Penny to be my BFF when she was nothing but fearless and kickass, but seeing her vulnerable makes her incredibly real and makes her motivations for her (misguided) deal with the devil believable and relatable—even if I don’t agree with her. Russ is an all-around good guy with the right touch of alpha and a wicked sense of humour, and I absolutely wanted to take him home. He understands Penny perfectly and is there for her every step of the way, even when she’s being an idiot and he has the inevitable man moment. Those painstakingly organised jars of white gummy bears, Penny’s favourite treat? Be still, my heart!

With THE DEFENDER, Adrienne Giordano delivers another great, action-packed story heavier on the thrills and lighter on the romance with loveable and well-matched characters and a fun, witty writing style that makes it approachable and enjoyable for readers of all genres. A thoroughly enjoyable way to while away a couple of hours!

**ARC provided by Author**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N |


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