by Alexa Riley
Series: For You #1
Published by Carina Press on July 17, 2017
Format: ARC, Ebook
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I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
A former Russian mafia soldier is hired to protect a friend’s young daughter, but he knows he’ll do more than keep her safe–he’ll make her his. Forever.
If she were to simply whisper my name, I would be at her feet, begging to touch what I shouldn’t, taste what doesn’t belong to me, run my hands along the sweet innocence she taunts me with.
Penelope Justice is eighteen, old enough to graduate high school but—according to her parents—not old enough to live without 24/7 security. Practice has made her an expert at ditching her bodyguards. One look at Ivan and she never wants to run again.
I’ve been hired to protect her.
I can’t help but think that perhaps someone should have protected her from me.
Ivan steals the breath right out of her lungs, something no boy has ever done. Then again, he’s far from a boy. This man, this man who looks like he could kill someone with the flick of a wrist, is everything. He is her future.
I can’t let her go and I won’t give her up. I’ve done bad things in my life, and I don’t deserve her. But I can’t do the honorable thing.
I’ve never been noble, and I’m not starting now.
Stay Close hits many of Alexa Riley’s trademark tropes: barely legal virgin heroine, love and lust at first sight, completely smitten hero, accelerated courtship, and instant HEA. For me, this is one of Riley’s better books since it tones down the hero’s possessiveness and focuses more on his desire to protect the heroine. But never fear, I think Stay Close will please many diehard Riley fans with its sweet but steamy romance.
The heroine is Penelope (Penny), daughter of Paige and Captain from the For Her series. I haven’t read their book and it’s not necessary since Stay Close (book #1 in the For You series) works as a standalone. Penny is very much the heart of her family. Her twin sister, Pandora, is a bit more brash and provides comic relief. But Penny has a tender heart and her parents pull out all the stops to protect her, along with Pandora.
Paige and Captain work for a security firm and take their daughters’ safety incredibly seriously. When trusted family friend and security expert Ivan is hired as Penny’s bodyguard, there are instant sparks between them.
Ivan escaped a dark criminal past and bleak existence in Russia. He has no family, so when he falls for Penny, it’s like he’s feeling the warmth of the sun for the first time. She gives him hope and causes him to embrace his emotions–all brand-new experiences for him.
Likewise, Ivan’s presence in Penny’s life is an abrupt change for her as well. Used to being the backbone of her family, Penny now finds herself in love with a man who has pledged himself to her, body and soul. She no longer has to worry about taking care of everyone else all the time. Rather, Ivan is here to lighten that load. Now, it’s Penny’s turn to be taken care of.
I really enjoyed this book. Yes, insta-love typically isn’t my thing, but Ivan’s so darn swoon worthy. I found him to be one of the most likable Riley heroes because he’s not creepy or stalkerish. And even though the relationship moves lightning fast in true Alexa Riley form, I appreciated that the couple doesn’t automatically start popping out babies straightaway, for once! I also really enjoyed Penny’s close relationship with her twin as well as their parents.
Overall, Stay Close left me with a pretty feel-good impression. As I mentioned, many of the Riley trademarks are there, but are more toned-down in this book–while retaining that guaranteed HEA that Riley never fails to deliver.
Rating: 4 stars