by Deborah Fletcher Mello
Series: To Serve and Seduce #2
Published by Harlequin on March 5, 2019
Sub-Genre/Theme: Contemporary, Suspense
Source: The Publisher
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Proving her innocence…at all costs
Former Chicago cop Mingus Black is used to liars. So why does the PI believe a teacher who insists she’s being framed? Joanna Barnes is totally convincing…in more ways than one. The chemistry between Mingus and Joanna becomes perilously potent, but until he can find out who framed her for a heinous crime, everything they love hangs in the balance.
Tempted by the Badge by Deborah Fletcher Mello is the second book in the To Serve and Seduce miniseries. I read it as a standalone and didn’t have issues keeping track of the story. Overall, I enjoyed this romantic suspense that really caught my attention in the first half. However, the second half lagged a bit for me and I thought the resolution seemed a little too tidy.
Beloved high school history teacher Joanna Barnes stands accused of a horrible crime. One of her students is accusing her of having a sexual relationship with him and claims to have evidence to back it up. Joanna is blindsided–she knows she’s innocent, but even she admits that the supposed evidence appears pretty damning. She turns to her good friend Simone for help, who enlists the help of Simone’s brother, former cop turned private investigator, Mingus Black.
[Sidebar: I really cannot stand the name Mingus. Later in the book, I realized that all of the Black family siblings are named after jazz and blues musicians (Armstrong, Simone, Ellington). But wow, I just could not get on board with the name Mingus.]
As a cop, Mingus didn’t necessarily follow all the rules to the letter, which is why he turned to private investigation. That being said, he’s a man of honor and integrity. So when he meets Joanna and believes in her innocence, he’ll stop at nothing to help clear her name.
The plot is really interesting and something that’s unfortunately plausible, in this age of social media and digital access. The story also touches on the sensationalist aspects of the news and tabloid culture. I found these commentaries to be the strongest parts of the book. As for the romance, it happens rather quickly and doesn’t develop very fully. I would have been fine with a Happy for Now at the end, instead of what felt like an accelerated relationship. Also, there are moments when Joanna behaves extremely irresponsibly (despite the fact that she’s innocent) and I’m not convinced that she would have gotten off so easily in the real world.
As a whole, though, I did enjoy this suspenseful story that addresses timely issues with a diverse cast of characters. I’ll be checking out this author’s other books in the future.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book.
Rating: 3 stars