Dr. Madhuban Laghari may be a billionaire, but he does his best to be a regular guy, take care of people, and do good where he can. So Mads has a hard time taking his security too seriously, as the last thing he wants is to be followed around by bodyguards all day or have his friends and employees struggle for access to him. Yet after he keeps seeing his stalker at all his favorite hangouts, Mads realizes that it is time to do something about his security before things get truly dangerous. Mads also knows that the proprietary polymer that made his company famous has some unintended dangerous uses, and access to Mads could have it end up in the wrong hands. So Mads finally agrees to let Anthony Edgerton take on his protective detail. It doesn’t hurt that Anthony is incredibly gorgeous and Mads is totally hot for him.
It makes Anthony crazy that Mads has been so lax about his security, so he is thrilled when the man finally gives in and agrees to let Anthony take over. Mads’ agreement doesn’t stop him from pushing back against the security now and again, but it is better than nothing. As the men spend more time together, the attraction between them flares brighter. Anthony knows he shouldn’t get involved with someone he is protecting, but everything about Mads just calls to him and he wants to both love and take care of Mads. For his part, Mads loves the sense of safety Anthony brings, as well as his kind heart and support.
Things are going great between the men personally, but the security problems are heating up. When they learn the truth behind the stalker, it raises more concerns and it becomes clear the threat is even more serious than they believed. When Mads’ life is on the line, he is lucky to be surrounded by people who care about him and will do anything to help keep him safe — most especially Anthony. Now that the men have fallen for one another, Anthony is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the man he loves.
Protection is the second book in Kelly Fox’s Mobsters and Billionaires series. We meet both men as side characters in Extradition, but this story stands alone just fine and you can easily jump in here. The series features billionaires falling for mobsters (as the series title indicates), which I find a fun set up as I would never have pitted these groups together. Fox is careful to establish Mads as an ethical, down to earth man who is aware of the privilege of his money. He is cautious about the deals he makes and who he works with, is sensitive to the safety and happiness of his workers, and uses his money to help out in big ways when he can. On the mobster front, Anthony grew up friends with Luca (the big boss) and has a sense of allegiance to him. That said, he doesn’t get involved with any of the illegal side of things and, while he may close his eyes to some of the things going on, definitely works to stay on the right side of the law himself. So while there are clearly issues with both the absurdly wealthy and the criminal, Fox softens the edges of these characters in a way that makes the books (and series) work well.
This book starts out focused on the relationship side of things as Anthony takes up protection for Mads. The guys have a sort of playful vibe between them, as Mads can’t help but poke a bit at the more stoic Anthony. At first, Anthony is wary about getting involved with Mads because he is a client, but it doesn’t take long before he succumbs to Mads’ charms. The two are sweet and sexy together and there is a nice sense of taking care of each other. Mads loves his big, strong man and he gives Anthony care and support in return. Things get pretty settled for the men as they then begin heating up with the suspense side of things. I liked how the pacing worked here, giving us a chance to see the men fall for each other, then how that impacts both of them when danger hits. There is some nice suspense and thrills, as well as a lot of bad guys getting beat up by the various team Anthony puts together. If you are fan of Fox’s Wrecked: Guardians series, you may enjoy the various cameos as folks from that team come in to help out when the situation gets dicey.
One of the things I find most fun here with this series is the strange sort of found family of these ultra rich men and the (not quite) bad guy mobsters. We see them all hanging out, playing poker, and generally relying on one another in a great way. It is a kind of oddball mix, and I think it really works. I am eager to see how the other men find their own happy endings as the series continues.