Badge of Honor

Clay Yeager's Redemption

Deadly Temptation

Gage Butler's Reckoning

Her Best Friend's Husband

Just Another Day in Paradise

A Man to Trust

Midnight Seduction

The Return of Luke McGuire

A Whole Lot of Love

 
Backstreet Hero by Justine Davis
(SRS #1539, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-27609-7
**
This is the eighth book by Justine Davis featuring employees of Redstone Incorporated. If you have read even one of them, you will know that it was founded by the mysterious Josh Redstone, who is a paragon of humanity totally invested in each employee and their well being, and the recipient of unswerving loyalty on the part of almost every employee.

Lilith Mercer is an old friend of Josh’s and is working nonstop to expose the extent of the damage caused by the former head of R and D, Stan Chilton, who had been convicted of industrial spying and is presently serving time in the penitentiary. The story opens as she sustains a near life threatening fall from tripping over a wire that had been strung at the top of the steps at her condo. This is the second “accident” within a week and immediately garners Josh’s attention.

Josh immediately responds by having his much vaunted security division provide protection for Lilith. Enter Tony Alvera who makes an unprecedented demand to be assigned to the case. Tony is a product of Josh’s generosity from years ago.  As part of his neighborhood gang activity he attacked Josh one night trying to steal his wallet. Josh repelled the attack; trading reporting it to the authorities for Tony straightening up, attending and graduating from college. Tony is cognizant of his debt to Josh, and also is unable to overcome the shame and guilt from his background.

Lilith represents everything he is not and has never attained. She is brilliant as well as being a class act. Divorced from the wealthy David Huntington on the grounds of spousal abuse she was the force which put him in jail. She is certainly not looking for another relationship, and Tony, unaware of this part of her history, sees her as totally unattainable, although he has had a crush on her for years.

The plot line is very familiar, the bodyguard with a sublimated interest in the protected person, mixed with the protected one not wanting protection, but realizing it is necessary as “accidents” continuing to happen. Mix this with Lilith’s growing and unwanted attraction for Tony and the result is a pretty standard plot device. Davis has added to this the nearly 12 year’s difference in their ages (Tony being the younger). Lilith is very sensitive to this age spread and it creates a new dimension in the growing romance. Tony is surprised by her interest but is initially unable to accept the fact that he “might” be good enough for her.

The cause of the accidents is the mystery in this story…equal time being given to suspecting the former employee Chilton or the former husband Huntington. Investigation is fairly shallow and unconvincing as the story dawdles to resolution.

A disproportionate time is spent on character development, which in many respects is good as the suspense part is pretty standard and predictable. The dialogue is probably the most convincing and enjoyable part of the story.

Having read and admired many of Davis’s prior works, it is only fair to state what is most bothersome about this story and what generates a two heart rating. Way, way too much time and space is given to the admiration of Josh Redstone and the Redstone Agency. Page after page reiterates that “it is the Redstone Way” as if readers have not understood this through the reading of now eight novels which dwell upon the same theme.

--Thea Davis


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