5* Review: Guarding Evelyn – Erin Zak

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It’s my understanding that this book has been in the works in one form or another for quite sometime, so to say I was excited to finally get my hands on it would be an understatement. As anyone who reads Zak’s work will know, you need to be ready to roll up your sleeves, and get ready to feel right alongside Zak’s characters.

Guarding Evelyn is a bodyguard story through and through, and yet the plot is rather unusual compared to the blueprint usually seen within this trope.

Arden Ryan is back in her childhood home of Chicago, having recently been placed on a leave of absence from the Secret Service. A job where personally protecting the first female President of the United States led to physical activity of more than one kind, and healing of more than just bloodied and broken skin.

Tasked with guarding celebrity actress Evelyn Glass, is no easy assignment for Arden especially when her charge refuses to take the threats to her safety as seriously as she should. But all that changes when the threats are suddenly directed towards Evelyn’s children.

There’s a simmering attraction between Arden and Evelyn right from the off-set, and whilst the temptation might ebb and flow as both characters navigate their own complicated baggage, the increasing pull towards the inevitable is never far away for either of them.

Zak expertly uses the characters’ individual emotional struggles, and their ever growing physical attraction to blindside readers with a fair few twists and turns in the plot. I can honestly say I saw zero of them coming down the garden path, which only served to make the mystery/intrigue elements of this story all the more enjoyable.

Plot twists, emotionally wounded characters, and hot sex aside, Zak gives readers some fantastic side characters alongside Arden and Evelyn. I particularly enjoyed Talon an ex-felon turned evasive driving extraordinaire, (I’d love to see Zak take this character elsewhere) and Arden’s mom, Edie – who is a funny and yet convincing mix of over bearing and caring, whilst simultaneously not really knowing how to be there for her daughter. Some how their relationship just works, which feels somewhat true to potentially most care giver/parental relationships out there in the real world.

Overall, a really great bodyguard story that’s a little bit different to its contemporaries, and a book I’m happy to have ended my 2022 reading year with.

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