Title: Guarding Hearts
Author: L.L. Collins
Series: Living Again #3
Release Date: May 21, 2014
Ellis Warner is a police officer, everyone’s friend and every girl’s fantasy- funny, dedicated, and too good looking for his own good. Thanks to a childhood he would rather forget and a young adulthood riddled with mistakes, he knows that no one can ever find out who he really is. He lives his life pretending to be the guy everyone sees on the outside. The one thing he knows for sure is that he can’t be serious with anyone. When he takes a second job as security for a new country star coming into town, he has no idea how that one decision will change his entire life and expose everything he has worked so hard to bury.
Samantha Kerrigan won a nationwide contest that immediately forces her into the spotlight. Her dreams of being a successful country singer have come true, but dreams always come with a price. While going out on her first tour, a stalker’s advances threaten her safety, forcing her team to hire more protection.
The second she meets Ellis, she knows there’s something about him and immediately makes him her private bodyguard. But he’s determined just to do his job, and she’s determined to make him open up. When her life is threatened and his secrets are exposed, will Ellis be able to guard Sam from danger, and his heart from her?
Guarding Hearts is one of those books that induces a huge happy sigh. Just when I think the Living Again series can’t possibly get any better, Ellis and Sam’s story comes along and blows me away all over again. Not only do we get to see the couples from the previous novels basking in there happily ever afters, but we are also introduced to some truly intriguing new characters. As always, L.L. Collins writes with purpose, carefully crafting a story that will make you think, feel, and fall in love. Her writing flows easily, allowing the reader to be swept up by her words and floated into the brilliant world she has built amongst the pages. Ellis and Sam share an instant connection that is absolutely magical. While they seem to be fated, L.L. Collins is careful not to let them succumb to disingenuous instalove. They fight their feelings and keep their personal secrets, adding to the build up of chemistry that absolutely sizzles between them and gives this novel a sexy edge that is utterly addictive.
“I feel like, when you look at me, you see me.”
Sam and Ellis are both complex characters and I was curious to see how deep their secrets went and how much growth they’d experience before they’d finally find their way. L.L. Collins did not disappoint, putting these two through the wringer as they faced their intense feelings, dealt with occupational hazards, and fought to keep their pasts behind them. The emotional rollercoaster that ensues had me connecting with these characters and fully investing myself in their happy ending. Initially Ellis and Sam appear to be total opposites, but as their story progresses, L.L. Collins unraveled these characters to expose vulnerabilities, insecurities, and fears that were surprisingly similar. Sam is dynamic in a way that lights up everything around her, while Ellis’ strong presence casts a shadow that can’t be ignored. Together they represented a perfect balance. Their different views of the world pushed them to evolve alongside each other into the best versions of themselves. I loved getting to know this couple and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing their journey right alongside them.
“He knew he would never be the same after this week. Meeting Samantha Kerrigan had changed his life, even if he never got to be with her again.”
Guarding Hearts is definitely an enthralling journey full of unexpected twists, hidden truths, and surprising pasts that came together to deliver something powerful. Guarding Hearts explores the challenges of overcoming the events of our youth and delivers a rather poignant message – the person we choose to become is far more important than who we were born. The emotional depth of this story touched me in unexpected ways. I swooned from the sweet romance, laughed at the witty banter, blushed my way through the steamy scenes, and even shed a few tears at some seriously heartbreaking moments. The secondary characters, both familiar and new faces, made Ellis and Sam’s world even more vibrant. They challenged Ellis and Sam to let go, give in to the magnetic pull, and follow their hearts, all while being unconditionally loving and supportive. I can’t wait for the next book in the series where I can once again revel in the comforting feeling this unconventional little family so easily delivers. L.L. Collins has written a story of loss, longing, and love that is undeniably sweet and absolutely captivating. Guarding Hearts is a great read!
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Don’t miss the rest of the Living Again series:
Living Again (Living Again #1)
Reaching Rachel (Living Again #2)
Finding Forever (Living Again #4)
Breaking Free (Living Again #4.5)