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A bodyguard’s life is turned upside down by his intriguing new charge. After three consecutive expulsions for sexual misconduct, Luca D’Amato has no choice but to return to America. Jacob Ryder is the man charged with protecting him from his family’s many enemies – but who will protect Ryder from Luca?
Author’s Note: This story will contain a fair bit of kink and potentially squicky content, including multiple sexual relationships with considerable age differences. The main characters are themselves ten years apart in age. In addition, there will be references to sexual activity that took place when one of the characters was 16/17. As sixteen is the age of consent where I live, I do not consider this to be underage, but your mileage may vary.
Close Protection is an excellent m/m action-suspense-romance that tells the story of Luca, the 18-year old son of a billionaire defense contractor, and Ryder, his new bodyguard, and how they fight together against a dangerous stalker who seems to know everything about Luca, and is willing to use that knowledge to try to control and entrap him.
At over 250,000 words/650 pages, this is a long, involved read, and even though it could have used some editing down, it was still a very engaging story about very complicated characters that were imperfect but still sympathetic. The author did a great job of fleshing out Luca and Ryder as well as building up their development and evolution over the story. Nothing is “insta” here–no one gets quick fixed, no one falls for each other right off the bat. Everything was a process, which made the characters more realistic (even as the story got crazy).
The author also successfully spaced out the action, suspense, and sexy times so there was never a too-big a space in between for the reader to feel bored or complacent. (I was also impressed with how the author spaced out the romance so well here since I came in thinking that I was going to have to survive 30+ chapters of UST before anything happened.)
I was surprised how much I cared for Luca, even as you found out more of the things he did in the past to control and manipulate people. The author did a fantastic job of showing how flawed her characters are, but also how very human, and it was easy to feel every small step that Luca took to move himself forward and be a better man, a man he wanted to be for Ryder. And Ryder’s slow progression as he strived to keep Luca safe from the myriad of threats while also battling his feelings for his principle was riveting to read. The eventual sexual dynamics that develop between them is also very interesting (and sexy) while also staying true to the characters. I liked how the author didn’t stick to common m/m tropes, but spun things around in new directions that always felt *right* for the characters and the story.
Another thing I dug was how the author created a large cast of distinct characters, each with their own voice. The dialogue was great; very realistic, and sometimes very funny. Also, she did a wonderful job of creating fleshed-out female characters, something always nice to see in an m/m romance.
In the end, Close Protection was a very satisfying read, especially reading it completed. (It was published as a weekly serial. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much if I read it in installments over a year, but I have little patience for WIPs.) But as a complete story, it reads very well; it’s long and at times it felt like a TV serial telling one long story broken up into mini-arcs, but still it is fantastic story about characters who you really grow to care about and who you really want to have an HEA. (And yes, the ending is satisfying.)
Lastly, this whole 650 page novel is free to read online at fictionpress here, and I have to give props to the author for sticking through and finishing the story (and doing it so well.) I would be more than happy to buy this novel. It’s definitely worth it. Highly recommended.
And if you’re looking for more, the author has some free side stories with the Close Protection characters, has finished another free original novel on fictionpress called Blood Red, and just started a new sci-fi serial story called Control.
Title: “Close Protection”
Author: Cornelia Kingsbridge
Release Date: November 18, 2012