Guarding Brielle by Nicole Flockton (2018)
Guarding Brielle is the fifth book in Nicole Flockton’s Guardian SEALs series. I didn’t know until I started reading Guarding Brielle that this book exists within the world of military romantic suspense created by Susan Stoker. Guarding Brielle is adjacent to Stoker’s SEAL of Protection series and brushes against her Delta Force Heroes series. Also, be aware that this book is part of a larger Kindle Worlds series—Special Forces: Operation Alpha World (there’s a handy list in the back of the book identifying the titles in this series). Had I known all this going in, well, I might have made a different buying decision. Which is to say, I’ve always been lukewarm where Stoker’s novels are concerned. In short, if you have read Stoker’s novels, know that Guarding Brielle will deliver more of the same, and from there you can decide if you are totally down for more of the same or you’ve already had enough. If it’s all new to you, don’t worry. Guarding Brielle can be read as a standalone book. Also, if you are the kind of reader who prefers romance novels more on the sweet side of the spectrum, this book may appeal to you. It is definitely not a racy read. But…Guarding Brielle isn’t one of my recommended reads and honestly, I have no intention of going back to read any other books in this series. Before we dive into what this book is about, here’s another warning: if you are the kind of reader who is easily annoyed with typos, you’re going to want to take a pass on this one because I’m sad to say the book is poorly edited. Okay, that’s all the preliminaries, I think. Moving on.
This is the story of Brielle Wilson and Tim “T-Rex” Exeter. Just as the back cover copy of the book says, Brielle was kidnapped while on vacation in India. Because of who she is (the daughter of a billionaire who owns diamond mines and the niece of a U.S. Senator—read: well, you know what I’m saying here, right?), a Navy SEAL team is sent to rescue her from her captors. We learn early in the story that Tim is the man who saved her (of course). After her return to her life in the States, Brielle is advised by her therapist to take a vacation in order to help her overcome the anxiety attacks she’s been living with ever since the kidnapping. She is reluctant to take her therapist’s advice, but when she gets a call from a sorority sister inviting her to her wedding in San Diego, Brielle decides to take a chance and makes her travel plans. Turns out, the bachelorette party ends up at the same bar where Tim and some of his other Navy SEAL friends are having drinks. Tim is in San Diego for a short vacation trip himself, and when he spots Brielle and recognizes her as the woman his team rescued in India, his interest is piqued. Then he notices she’s having an anxiety attack, and when her friends don’t notice what is happening, he jumps in and helps her through the attack as best as he can. The two go on a date while they’re both in the city, but afterward they both return to their separate lives in Virginia. Only, their paths cross again when Brielle and Tim both find out that the man who kidnapped her still poses a threat to her.
I’ve had a run of bad luck recently where romance novels are concerned. Though Guarding Brielle doesn’t break that streak, I have to point out that Flockton does get a few things right in this book, which is why it gets the benign rating of three stars from me. The meet cute happens in the first chapter of the book (please, save me from romances where I have to wait until the third or fourth chapter for the meet cute to happen). Though a bit bland (okay, more than a little bit bland?) both characters are generally likable. Rather than being fully developed, Brielle and Tim are flat, two-dimensional characters. The story is told from both Brielle and Tim’s alternating third-person point-of-view, and each character’s voice was engaging enough to keep my attention. Perhaps the best thing about the book is the way it delivers the sense of family and camaraderie that is a typical convention found in military romantic suspense series.
Still, the positive aspects of the book don’t outweigh the negatives for this reader. I’m fairly forgiving when it comes to typos, but this book was littered with them to the point where every time I found another I thought how much the author needed a good editor (or a better editor). First impressions matter. This was the first book I’ve read by Flockton, and the poor editing didn’t leave a favorable, lasting impression on me. I downloaded this book through my Kindle Unlimited subscription, so my book budget didn’t take a direct hit, and I’m glad for that because this book would have been a waste of my book dollars. Because I write romantic suspense, I’m always going to have a higher bar for books I read in this genre, and I’m okay with having high standards. Unfortunately, Guarding Brielle didn’t meet my expectations, and though I love a bit of brain candy as much as the next reader, my suggestion is to skip this one and keep on browsing.
Have you read Guarding Brielle? What did you think?