Hannah Brooks is great at her job.
Like, really great.
Part of what makes her excel is her ability to blend in coupled with her incredible skillset of being able read people and decades of jujitsu experience.
That’s why she’s one of the two top personal protection agents, AKA bodyguards, at her company. But life circumstances and the new client throw Hannah for a very unexpected rollercoaster of a loop: the new client is none other than Hollywood’s most reclusive actor, the man who won Sexiest Man Alive two consecutive years, Jack Stapleton. And Hannah has to pretend to be his girlfriend in order to protect him.
Katherine Center’s latest novel has all the deep, heart-heavy moments of her other novels, but balanced with light, fun, and banter. Though there are serious moments, from childhood trauma to the loss of family members, whether they were close or not, there are also wild shenanigans and adventures on a Texas ranch that more than balance out the heavier moments.
I’m a total sucker for delightful banter. If it makes me laugh out loud, I’m here for it. There were numerous instances of laughing out loud, including on a plane (#sorrynotsorry, seatmates), that shows the humorous moments match the heartfelt ones beat for beat.
The characters were well-developed, particularly the main characters and the found family. After learning about Hannah’s difficult childhood, seeing her be embraced (even by a family that falsely believes she’s a girlfriend that could turn into a daughter-in-law) was such a treat.
Hannah’s battle with her baggage and self-worth, coming off of a bad breakup and while grieving, really humanized her as a character. Questioning one’s ability to be loved is a heavy topic, but Center made it both relatable and part of Hannah’s internal character growth.
The setting of urban and rural Houston, Texas, made for a well-rounded read. The city scenes allowed for certain plot points to be more believable, while the ranch scenes made room for some of our favorite rom-com tropes to fit perfectly (stuck in one place! One bed! Fake dating! The mix of Hollywood royalty and real people!)
If you love rom-coms, many of your favorite tropes will be here. There was only one trope I struggled with, and it’s more of a me-thing than a book-thing. Hannah is a petite woman who is often underestimated based on her size; it’s part of what allows her to do her job well. As someone thinking about inclusivity, I saw Hannah’s size as a missed opportunity for an average or plus-sized character to break the same stereotypes that Hannah faced. Let’s see a woman whose strength isn’t dictated by her size. We can absolutely have tiny and mighty– and we can also have medium and mighty, large and mighty, and plus-sized and mighty. But like I said, this is a me-thing, and I still loved the book. It’s definitely re-readable, which is one of the highest honors I can bestow on a book.
Thank you to author Katherine Center, NetGalley, and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced copy such that I could share my honest opinions.
The Bodyguard by Katherine Center is available now! You can purchase it from Bookshop.org here. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org. I will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.