Today Sammy and I are doing a Buddy Review of Model Bodyguard by Lissa Kasey. Sammy read and reviewed the first book in the series, Model Citizen, and I listened to it on audio, and we both enjoyed it so much that we wanted to continue on in the series. So today you are getting a bonus as each of us review the second book in the Haven Investigations series.
Rating: 4 stars
Ollie and Kade are happily together and running Haven Investigations. Kade is handling most of the bodyguard and security work, while Ollie is staying mostly behind the scenes handling the tech end in between modeling jobs. Things are going well for them, both in their personal relationship and with the business. But the men are both thrown when Ollie’s cheating ex-boyfriend, rock star Jacob Elias, shows up back in their lives.
Jacob needs a bodyguard to help him deal with numerous threats. He is receiving gory packages sneaked into his car, dressing room, and other private places. He is also getting threatening mail, as well as a host of slanderous news stories written about him. His personal security is a disaster and his family is all in his business and may not be trustworthy. Ollie and Jacob definitely parted on bad terms, but Ollie can’t leave Jacob without help as it is clear he is facing some real threats that no one seems to be taking seriously.
Getting back involved in Jacob’s life is not easy, however. Ollie still has some pain over the emotional abuse he suffered while with Jacob. On top of that, Kade hates to see them together as he doesn’t trust Jacob, who has made it clear he would love Ollie back. And the more they look into the mystery of who is threatening Jacob, the more serious it becomes. Soon it is clear that not only is Jacob’s life at risk, but Ollie and Kade are in danger as well. Now they must work to figure out who is behind all the trouble before they all get hurt.
I really enjoyed listening to Model Citizen, so I was eager to get my hands on this second book in the series, especially after the dramatic ending to the first story. I really like Ollie and Kade together, and find the gender fluid Ollie in particular to be a great character. I love that he is confident in who he is and never lets others influence how he dresses or behaves. Ollie is tough and spunky and while he sometimes lets his heart lead him into danger, he is just a really fun character and I enjoyed getting a chance to follow along with him and Kade for another case. Their relationship has grown nicely since the first book and we can see how much these guys have settled together and made a life for themselves.
I will admit that I continue to find it frustrating the way Kade seems to always be managing Ollie, however. This is something I noted in my first review as well. Kade is super protective of Ollie and sometimes treats him like his is a fragile thing that needs tending. Ollie does have a propensity for getting himself in trouble, but he also smart and tough and not nearly as delicate as Kade sometimes acts. On one hand, Kade often acknowledges how strong Ollie is, but at the same time he is always hovering, watching what Ollie eats and what he is doing and monitoring for trouble. I get that Ollie has some emotional issues, but I found the caretaker vibe sometimes too heavy handed.
The mystery end of things is a nice way to bring some closure to Ollie’s relationship with Jacob. However, I did find things a little convoluted at times. I think Kasey does a nice job keeping us guessing who is involved and I enjoyed following along as each of the friends and family are investigated. But at the same time, there seem to be so many issues and moving parts, that at times I had trouble following along with all the different elements. I think this was exacerbated by the fact that the reveal of who is behind it all comes very late in the book and things end pretty abruptly, so we didn’t quite have the time to absorb the reveal and reflect back on how it then fits into everything going on with the story.
I also found it odd that nothing at all comes of the big reveal at the end of the first book. I’ll spoiler tag it here just in case, but we learn at the end of the story that [spoiler] Ollie’s brother Nathan may not have killed himself, but it may instead have been foul play. [/spoiler] Yet, while this is mentioned once in passing, nothing at all comes of it. How is it possible that Ollie and Kade aren’t all over exploring this and figuring out the truth? It has apparently been months and they aren’t investigating or even talking about it. It just seemed highly unlikely given what we know about Ollie and his relationship with his brother. I’ll also note that for as much of a shock as that was, this story ends with a true cliffhanger. We do wrap up the main mystery, but there is a dramatic, shocking event at the end that definitely leaves the door flying wide open for the next book.
So I am really liking this series and thought this was a great installment. I had some small issues, but overall I found the story enjoyable and engaging. I like Ollie and Kade and the way they work together to solve these mysteries. I am really excited to follow along and can’t wait for the next book.
Rating: 5 stars
Well, you’ll have to forgive me but I’m a wee bit breathless—having just finished Lissa Kasey’s second installment in her Haven Investigations series can do that to a person you see. I know Jay has given you an amazing synopsis of Model Bodyguard so I’m going to plunge straight into why this novel was a solid five star read for me. First, I truly enjoyed the fact this story was told from Kade’s point of view—for me, it added the missing dynamic of the first novel and gave such great insight as to why and how Kade could not only handle all of Ollie’s many emotional problems, but help him continue on the path to heal and recover from them as well. Let me be clear when I say “problems” I am not tossing off some uncompassionate euphemism—Ollie has been through hell and for those who read the first novel in this series you know of where I speak. But in this book, the author allows us to see how a healthy relationship works—Kade is not “saving” Ollie—he is his partner—his voice of reason and love when Ollie can only see and feel the dark closing in.
Having Kade narrate this second installment means we are able to also further invest in the relationship that has been established and is continuing to build between these two men and the fact that Kade is fully committed to Ollie. He loves him beyond belief, which makes every moment in this story more realistic, more passionate, and more important. Due to this, when Jacob reenters Ollie’s life asking for help in tracking down a threatening stalker, those moments when the author allows us to feel Kade’s fear that he may lose his boyfriend again to the incredible sway Jacob seemingly still has over Ollie are really agonizing. What if Ollie isn’t strong enough to say no to Jacob? Is the bond between Kade and Ollie tough enough to withstand the lure of an ex-lover who nearly destroyed Ollie emotionally the first time around?
So many worries, so many doubts begin to surface in Kade’s mind and eat at him until he realizes that all he can do is continue to do what he has been slowly building with his boyfriend—trust in each other. He must trust that Ollie has recovered enough to stand on his own two feet and say no. He must bank on the love he knows Ollie has for him and continually remind Ollie of his love in return. Together they are an invincible team and that is how they will not only reject Jacob’s attempts to drive a wedge between them, but it’s also the way they will survive unmasking who is really behind the escalating violence that surrounds Jacob and those loyal to him.
This story—this brilliantly delivered mystery of so many twists and turns was absolutely top notch. As the author cleverly unpeeled one layer after another and the action ramped up I must admit I was truly in the dark as to who the stalker/murderer was until near the very end. And the end…well, my friends the author warns us—this one is going to knock you for a loop—the ending nearly made me throw my kindle at the wall! Shocking, terrifying and yes, even a bit nauseating, the cliffhanger left me just so incredibly worried for one of our guys—I have to tell you when he woke—when that door opened and the person standing there was revealed—my stomach and heart just dropped. As far as cliffhangers go—this one is a doozy—just don’t blame me when you toss your ereader against the wall—I’ve tried to warn you.
So, did I enjoy Model Bodyguard? Most assuredly. Was it better than the first—characters developed further, relationships defined and more intimate, plot fully developed and believable? Absolutely. Am I chomping at the bit for installment number three—hanging on pins and needles with an anxious feeling in my gut, hoping to all that is holy the next book is published really soon? Did you miss that throwing the kindle bit? Yes!! Emphatically yes, I cannot wait for the next book in this stunning series. Lissa Kasey’s writing has just gotten better and better with each new story she writes. This author is firmly on my auto-buy list and for good reason. In my opinion, she is a consummate storyteller who delivers riveting plotlines, creates strong and sexy characters and weaves intricate mysteries. I can easily say that I highly recommend her latest novel, Model Bodyguard, to you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.