Title: Guarding Morgan (Sanctuary #1)
Author: RJ Scott
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 193 pages
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Lasha
Summary Review: A disjointed, at times confusing tale of one man on the run and his bodyguard that just didn’t connect for me on any level.
Morgan Drake witnesses a murder in an alleyway. He is the only person who can give evidence in prosecuting the cop responsible for the crime. When the FBI safe house where he’s being held is compromised, he follows the instructions of the agent in charge and runs.
Nik Valentinov works for Sanctuary, a foundation that offers witness protection when FBI security is questionable.
When Morgan’s handler sends him to Nik for safety, neither Morgan nor Nik could imagine that two weeks alone in a cabin in the woods would have their hearts racing with something much more than merely trying to keep Morgan alive.
I’ve read most of RJ Scott’s books, my favorite probably being The Christmas Throwaway. When I got Guarding Morgan to review, the blurb seemed fairly interesting, as I love books with a cop-like theme in them, but unfortunately in its final execution, the novel fell short in many areas for me. In fact, I had a hard time finishing it, a first for me and an RJ Scott book.
Morgan Drake witnesses a murder in an alley and is put under witness protection, but when his location is compromised, he runs…straight to Nik Valentinov, a special ops kind of guy who works tough cases for a group called Sanctuary. They go into hiding, a remote cabin in the woods and wait to bring Morgan in to testify. Now here’s where the plot lost me. We really don’t any background on Sanctuary, and since this book is the beginning of series, I always felt like I was missing something in the plot. Perhaps in later books, the reader will gain more understanding of the group, but for now they were sort of mysterious, except for stilled phone calls like this from Nik:
“Run a check for me…I know…seven four one seven Alpha Iota Delta.” Nik paused, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, and then continued. “Send it to my cell. K-five. Do me a favor. Pass on the sit rep to Taylor and tell him to stay the fuck away. His boy is a ten. I put him at a Cat One.”
Nik glanced at Morgan then, a thoughtful expression on his face, and Morgan looked back at him steadily.
What the hell made a Cat One? And why was he a ten? “I know Taylor well, warn him about tails and tell him to stay in the hospital.” Nik ended the call abruptly, clearly having covered what he needed in a jumble of sentences and codes.
Morgan and I were both confused, and considering the fact I used to work in the criminal justice field, that’s an accomplishment. There seemed to be a lot of techno-babble and law enforcement slang, which I assume was to show the reader Nik was a competent bodyguard; however, the slang was annoying (to me) after awhile. Add in that I did not find Nik’s characterization to be all that compelling, and I was bored half way through the novel. But on the other hand, I did enjoy Morgan’s character, who when forced into a bad situation comes out fighting. Despite liking Morgan, the heat between Nik and him wasn’t apparent, so their romance fell flat in my estimation.
What really dropped the rating down for me was the dialogue. In past RJ Scott novels, I’ve come to expect snappy dialogue (thinking of The Heart of Texas), but in Guarding Morgan, that aspect of the book just didn’t flow. At times I wasn’t sure what was going on in the story as the wording was disjointed; then later purple prosy. I had to go back and re-read passages to make sure I understood the action.
So unfortunately, the three main things that make a novel great for me: characterization, dialogue and chemistry between the two main protagonists were not present in Guarding Morgan. Although I have enjoyed RJ Scott’s work in the past, and I am sure I will continue to do so in the future, I cannot recommend this particular book of hers.