The Marquess of Cainewood is a man hell-bent on revenge against the notorious pirate known as Pagan, who is despised by the ton for plundering their wealth, but revered by the common folk for being their benefactor. However, after being given proof of Pagan's crimes by the war department, Caine's only thought is to kill the pirate in retribution for murdering his brother. To that end, he has decided to impersonate Pagan in hopes of smoking him out of hiding to answer for his lawlessness. So far, he's had no luck, until late one night, he's approached in his disguise by a red-haired enchantress asking to hire him to kill someone for her. When he learns that the person she wants him to dispatch is herself, of course, he cannot comply. Even though he isn't sure that he fully believes her crazy story of being chased by miscreants trying to do her harm, Caine offers her his protection. While gradually learning that there might be more to her tale than meets the eye, he begins to fall for the mysterious, confusing, and sometimes infuriating lady.
Jade was telling Caine the truth about men burning down her brother's house and trying to kill her, but what she didn't tell him is that she's more than capable of protecting herself. In reality, her real mission is keeping Caine safe until her brother, Nathan, returns home in two weeks time. In order to do accomplish that, she cannot allow Caine out of her sight, so she tells a lot of little white lies to keep him close. Jade also cannot resist the attraction that burns between them, but when Caine learns the truth about her deception, will he be able to forgive her? And more importantly, when he declares his love for her, will she be able to set aside the pain of being abandoned in the past to believe in his love and give him a chance?
Guardian Angel is the second book in Julie Garwood's Crown's Spies series. Although I don't believe he was introduced in the first book, The Lion's Lady, this story features Lyon's best friend, Caine, another spy who worked for Sir Richards in service of his country. He's paired with Jade, a strong-willed and rather mysterious young lady who comes asking for his help. Julie Garwood has a reputation for writing light-hearted stories, especially with some of her historicals, and this one was perhaps a bit lighter than most. In addition to spies, we also get a taste of pirates - although no high-seas action - and a touch of mystery, all of which lead to a fun, rollicking, mad-cap adventure. I have to admit that without this humorous take on things, certain elements of the story would have been pretty unbelievable, but the lighter tone helped me to not take it too seriously. The story also has some emotional and romantic moments that were the icing on the cake. This book might not have reached the pinnacle of perfection for me, but it was, nonetheless, a pretty enjoyable read.
Caine is a man out for revenge. Because of evidence he was given by the government, he believes a notorious pirate known as Pagan is responsible for the death of his younger brother. Caine is in the midst of an undercover operation in which he's posing as Pagan in hopes of ferreting out the real pirate, when he's approached by a young woman named Jade, who asks for his help in killing someone for her. After a roundabout conversation, Jade admits that the person she wants him to kill is herself. Both confused and intrigued, Caine isn't about to harm the lovely lady, so he offers her his protection from the men who are after her instead. She finally accepts, but only if he stays with her day and night for the next two weeks. During that time, he finds himself falling madly in love with her in spite of her confusing and infuriating behavior, but then he discovers that she's been lying to him about some very important details of her story. I have to admit that Caine fell in love rather quickly and easily, with very little thought going into it, so I wasn't entirely sure of the reasons why he did. However, despite my slight misgivings, I admit that it made him a pretty appealing hero, because he was the first to declare his love and it also placed him in dogged pursuit of Jade. He can be a tad high-handed at times, but not irritatingly so. I also think that, in some ways, he needed to be in order to win Jade over, because she was definitely the reluctant party in their relationship. In this respect, I have to give him props for finding creative ways to get around her fears to make things work between them.
Jade is a woman who harbors a whole lot of secrets, but she was telling Caine the truth about dangerous men burning down her brother's house and carriage and that they were also trying to kill her. What she doesn't tell him, though, is that she can handle herself, and that she's really there to protect him, not the other way around. In order to do that, she must keep Caine with her, at all costs, for the next two weeks until her brother, Nathan, returns to meet up with her. The more time Jade spends with him, the more she finds herself caring for him, and even choosing to give him her innocence, but she doesn't believe a long-term relationship with him is possible, partly because of who she is and partly because of fears over Caine leaving her. I have to admit that while I generally liked Jade, I found myself wanting more information on her background. A lot of her colorful persona is chalked up to her being raised by her Uncle Harry, who's a pirate, but I wanted to know exactly how she came to be in such a respected position. It's all very cute, but sometimes, she seemed a bit featherbrained for the type of work in which she was engaging. Her fears surrounding Caine getting tired of her and possibly leaving her appear to be rooted in the fact that both Harry and Nathan left her several times throughout her life. While I appreciated her vulnerability, her characterization never went quite deep enough for me to fully understand those fears. Instead, she's merely a humorously stubborn heroine, which I suppose was rather amusing in it's own way.
Early on, I thought that Guardian Angel might earn keeper status from me, because I did find the romance between Caine and Jade rather sweet and endearing. However, the further I read, the more flaws I found. The mystery surrounding the spies and who was trying to kill them, became a bit convoluted and a little hard to follow at times. Also, later in the book, there are some exhaustingly long passages of dialogue with little action or introspection to break them up. In fact, some of the resolution to the mystery is told in dialogue rather than shown, which I thought would have been more engaging. Additionally there was the extreme overabundance of whispering. I was starting to wonder how any of the characters could even hear one another. LOL! I don't think I've ever run across this type of word over-usage in a Julie Garwood book before. Other than these things and the aforementioned character weaknesses, I did enjoy the story. It possesses a certain charm in it's presentation, and I liked many of the colorful secondary characters, including Nathan, Colin (Castles), and Harry. Nathan's story is next in The Gift, a book that I'm certain I've read before. I don't really recall the story, though, aside from a vague sense that I liked it, so I look forward to revisiting it soon.
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