cover image Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel

Julie Garwood, Garwood. Pocket Books, $7.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-671-67006-1

Garwood fails here to integrate romance and mystery elements as effectively as she did in The Bride. There's too much heavy breathing in the book's first half, too many convoluted political intrigues in the second. The year is 1815. The Marquess of Cainewood, hunting London's slums for the pirate Pagan whom he assumes killed his brother, traps instead a seemingly despairing young woman named Jade, who seeks to hire Caine to commit a murder--her own. Caine offers her protection instead, little suspecting that she is Pagan and her real object is to stay close so that she and her followers can defend him: traitors in the War Office, who tried to slay her brother as well as his, may now be after Caine too. The couple's stormy romance gets off to an instant if ludicrously implausible start that very first night, when Caine wanders into Jade's bedroom and finds her uncovered and completely naked. By the time their respective brothers reappear and the pursuit begins for the renegades, it's much too late for the reader to take any serious interest in the villains or their tiresome schemes. (May)