Review: Last First Kiss (Book #2: Iron Clad Security Series) by Sidney Halston

Last First KissHe’s an A-list Hollywood heartthrob.  She’s trying to prove herself in a man’s world. 
For this female bodyguard, protecting her client is simply business, but what happens when sparks fly and the danger heats up?
After a series of box office flops, Rocco Monroe needs a hit. Bad press, shit talking, rumors, lies…it all goes with the territory after almost two decades in the spotlight, but when he lands the role of his career in a controversial biopic, the part of a lifetime comes with a catch: a hired bodyguard.
Annabelle Clad is so bored she wants to scream. Her life is coding and algorithms and binary codes…rinse and repeat. To her Rocco Monroe means freedom, a chance to show her overprotective brother and business partner that she can contribute to Iron Clad Securities. And no arrogant playboy will fuck up her concentration by batting his lashes at her. She would never jeopardize her reputation by swooning over any man.
That had happened once, and she wouldn’t bear that loss or humiliation ever again. Even if Rocco looks like a walking fantasy…

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Netgalley and Purchase          My Rating: 4½/5 stars

Annie Clad has spent her life proving herself, first in the military and now to her brother and his partner as a part of Iron Clad Security.  Make no mistake, Annie is a badass with extensive training, but she’s often overlooked or deemed incapable simply because she’s a woman.  All she needs is a chance and Hollywood hottie, Rocco Monroe is just the chance she’s been waiting for.

Rocco Monroe is looking to be taken seriously as an actor.  Oh sure, he’s had plenty of successful movies, box office blockbusters, but none have been serious or critically acclaimed roles.  Rocco’s latest project has the potential to take his career and reputation to a whole new level, but that’s only if the film gets made.  There’s a lot of blow back, protests, and threats over this project and one of the conditions of Rocco’s involvement is a full-time bodyguard.  Rocco’s convinced the threats aren’t credible and wants nothing to do with a bodyguard until he meets Annie Clad.  Suddenly, the prospect of being shadowed full-time doesn’t seem so bad.  But, Rocco has some conditions of his own.

In Hollywood, perception is everything which means must blend into Rocco’s world.  Her beauty will distract most from the fact she’s lethal and Rocco can offer the world a glimpse of his new “girlfriend.”  What begins as a pure working relationship (because Annie refuses to be a cliché) quickly escalates into so much more.  Annie is hypervigilant in her protection, and until a rock comes crashing through his home’s window and the set he’s working on is attacked, Rocco isn’t convinced he needs Annie for more than a fake to real girlfriend.  It’s when the sh*t gets real that Rocco realizes his life is truly in danger, he has real feelings for Annie, and he begins to struggle with the fact that his job is making a woman he legitimately cares about a target.  For Annie’s part, protecting Rocco and unraveling who’s behind all the danger becomes an obsession fueled by memories of her time in the military and the tremendous (though largely unknown) loss she suffered while in combat. 

The Bottom Line:  I walked into this read expecting to like everyone (because it’s Sidney Halston!), discovered I disliked everyone, and then had my opinion totally changed as the story unfolded.  Rocco is arrogant and cocky, especially in public and sees Annie as an accessory more than protection in the beginning.  As the story unfolds and Rocco begins to tell his story and see Annie’s true value, he becomes far more likeable.  Annie begins her journey with a HUGE chip on her shoulder and healthy dose of anger she takes out on nearly every man in her sphere.  As Rocco evolves and opens to her, Annie begins to soften though that softness in no way lessens or detracts from her badassery!  There is so much growth in these characters across this read and that growth is initiated by both their responses to one another and the truly incredible danger they are forced to endure.  Halston doesn’t let up for a second and it’s worth every minute of the initial dislike to get to the absolutely well-deserved and hard-earned HEA that is waiting for both Rocco and Annie!

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