The Rules by Mark Troy

The Rules by Mark Troy
Publisher: Ilium Books
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (27 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Personal Protection specialist Ava Rome follows three rules: A professional never calls attention to herself or her principal; a professional never leaves her principal; and, the most important rule, a professional never gets involved with her principal. To break the rules is to die.

Paul, her principal, comes from a powerful family with many enemies. Murder and kidnapping are just means of business in Paul’s family. Ava believes he is not like the rest of them. Good looking, intelligent, he has everything women want. And many women want him, which makes Ava’s job harder. Does she want him too? She recognizes that the greatest threat comes not from the outside, but from her own growing desire. In order to save them both, Ava must leave Paul, against his wishes and in violation of one of her rules.

Ava was wrong. A greater threat lurks outside Paul’s secure compound. Two threats, in fact. One human and the other a hurricane. Ava focuses on the hurricane. She and Paul make preparations to ride out the storm. It arrives and so does the intruder. Now Ava is in a fight for her life as nature’s fury assaults the house from the outside and a serial rapist stalks her on the inside.

Ava Rome is a professional bodyguard, one with rules. And Paul, handsome, sexy Paul, broke quite a few of them. But as the son of a prominent businessman, a wealthy and powerful one with many enemies, Ava finds herself drawn to the situation. This is an interesting short story, written in a procedural tone about a bodyguard and her client.

While there is certainly an attraction between Ava and Paul, there is no mistaking this quick tale for a typical romance. It’s told in a gritty no-nonsense manner like the old-school, hard-boiled detective novels. The author managed to surprise me with a few twists and drew me in with Ava’s professional, almost dispassionate, descriptive manner. Readers looking for a romantic, rose-tinted view of the protection business likely won’t enjoy this story. I thoroughly enjoyed it though, pleased with the hard as nails heroine and delighted by the twists the author added into the story, some which I could guess at, some which took me completely by surprise.

A fresh outlook on the rules and tests one would encounter being a bodyguard, this is an interesting book that captured my attention and held it throughout the short story. A part of me wished there’d been a few more chapters (even an epilogue to explain what happened to Ava and Paul afterwards) to give complete closure, but the story itself was very well written. Recommended.

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