Cover Image: The Bodyguard

The Bodyguard

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Patti Murin narrates Katherine Center’s The Bodyguard, in which devastating loss and personal betrayal leave executive protection agent Hannah Brooks desperate for an out-of-country assignment to anywhere else but Houston to escape the pain. But instead, she’s assigned to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from a middle-aged stalker. While Hannah looks more like a kindergarten teacher, she could kill you with a ballpoint pen, dinner napkin, or a wine bottle opener because of her EPA training. After a family tragedyJack dropped from the public eye and went off-grid. But after his mom gets sick, he goes home to his family’s Texas ranch to be with her and his family.

Hannah must go undercover as Jack’s girlfriend to keep his family from finding out about the stalker and his need for a bodyguard. In-person, Jack is nothing like the superstar celebrity she’s expecting. Hannah’s used to protecting/guarding people while keeping her distance but spending time with Jack and his family pretending to be his girlfriend is way outside her comfort zone. The more time she spends with Jack, the more danger to her heart because there’s nowhere for her to run. Hannah’s got Jack’s back, but somehow, he’s taken possession of her heart. How can she keep him safe without losing her heart to him completely? And can they keep the secret they’re hiding without it blowing up in their faces?

Murin’s narration wonderfully brings Center’s heartfelt and captivating novel and characters to life, complementing The Bodyguard’s text and characters and Center’s storytelling. Narrating from the first-person POV of Hannah, she sets the novel’s overall lighthearted tone, seamlessly shifting narrative styles to match tonal changes for suspenseful, emotional, dramatic, and intimate moments. Murin gives the characters distinct voices, matching their personalities and moods, using cadence, dialect, affectations, and emotional expressiveness.

Hannah’s voice is perfect, sounding logical, controlled, earnest, “just the facts,” without much expressiveness or emotional highs or lows, even when distressed, angry, or grieving. While Hannah’s voice doesn’t change, Murin nicely shifts the emotional layers of her voice as Hannah evolves. I love Jack’s voice, which is husky, soft, and masculine. You can hear the smile/laughter in his voice and his affection for Hannah/his family. Murin does a great job of shifting his voice to reflect his pain, sadness, weariness, and feelings of being lost.

Center brilliantly merges three of my favorite tropes—bodyguards, fake dating, and friends-to-lovers. In my head, Jack is Chris Evans. I love Jack so much! But not just because he makes me think of Chris. I love him because Center’s descriptive writing, excellent storytelling, and character development made me fall in love with him. Center’s vibrant report is rich with details, emotion, animated and snarky dialogue and character interactions, and deft use of the senses in her storytelling and narrative. Her descriptive use of the senses reveals how Hannah instinctively connects with the world through her sensory perception rather than her emotions. The narrator Murin nicely captures this aspect of Hannah’s character. For example, Jack’s scent immediately captures Hannah’s notice/imagination. Also, Hannah “sees” more than most, priding herself on her observational skills. Unfortunately, her “vision” fails her when most needed. Center sprinkles similar descriptions throughout her narrative at pivotal moments.

Center develops complex, imperfect, relatable characters. Hyper-observant, focused, intelligent, logical, sharp, sarcastic, and always ready to move on to the next assignment, Hannah excels as an EPA/bodyguard. But she keeps parts of herself tightly locked down because of childhood/parental baggage—her anxiety, emotions, her secret romantic nature, and love for Jack Stapleton’s acting and movies. To Hannah’s surprise, Jack’s different than expected. He’s a down-to-earth, introspective, authentic sweetheart who’s funny, gentle, and sarcastic. But, like Hannah, Jack presents a façade to the world. Jack’s haunted by trauma—a tragic accident and loss weighing on him that he doesn’t share.

I love Jack and Hannah’s relationship and humorous, snarky, sweet, sexy banter and intimacy. But most of all, I love how seriously into Hannah Jack is, despite her inability to see/believe it. Hannah’s determined to keep her distance from Jack, but he breaks through her barriers. Their lives are so different. But, as unlikely as it seems, he and Hannah perfectly match, balancing each other, helping each other heal.

The scenes with Hannah’s co-workers are hilarious. A fascinating group, their interactions are entertaining, offering insight into Hannah and contributing to her development/evolution.

Center explores family, self-esteem, hope, grief, loss, and trauma themes in a refreshingly honest and heartfelt narrative. Suspenseful, sweet, charming, and funny with surprising twists and beautiful moments of hope, healing, self-discovery, and the experience of falling in love, The Bodyguard is surprisingly romantic, sneaking up on your heart. I promise it’s well worth the read despite fade-to-black/closed-door love scenes after a terrific build-up of sexual tension—even if you prefer steamy romances.

CW: Parent death, alcoholism, domestic abuse, stalker, cancer, PTSD, trauma, death of a sibling

Advanced review copy provided by St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for review.

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4
I really enjoyed this book. The plotline was great and though I could predict some of the main things that happened, I still loved listening to Hanna and Jack’s story.
The main thing that I didn’t enjoy was Hanna’s lengthy diatribe and her wordy dramatic reactions to some things. I felt it took away from what was happening and I wanted to skip the scene. I understand comparing what was happening to something but not multiple somethings. It seemed to happen every time a big thing happened to her. For a bodyguard with her background it didn’t seem fitting.
I did love Jack though. He seemed to fit right into what Hanna needed, whether she liked it or not. I watched them fall in love without them knowing they were doing it, even if there weren’t a ton of details of their time together.
The narrator for this book was good, but there were a few times I wasn’t sure who was talking if anyone at all. She had a lot of voices but changed her tone at times I didn’t even know someone was in the scene, so it became a little confusing.

Overall I really did enjoy this book and I would love to know more about some of the side characters!

Netgalley, Movie star, bodyguard, unexpected couple, audiobook, ARC for honest review, Texas, stalker, fake relationship

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Thank you, NetGalley for the advanced copy of The Bodyguard.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It vaguely reminded the Bodyguard movie with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, but better.

Hannah Brooks has a kick-ass job as a bodyguard to high-profile clients. She is extremely smart and can kick ass when she needs to. She recently split with her boyfriend, who always works for the same firm, when they snag a job for Jack Stapleton. Jack is the biggest movie star around and he has a crazed stalker and Hannah is sent to protect him.

I laughed and I cried in this book. The narrator was awesome and I will definitely want to read more by Katherine Center.

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I read a couple of chapters of this book, then got a bit distracted for a few days, and then binged the rest of it in one sitting. I've loved all of Katherine Center's books (my forever favourite is Happiness for Beginners and this one was no exception. It was wonderful! So well written, so emotional at times, funny at other times, it made my heart clench and soar and it just felt like a cozy hug coming home to brand new but somehow still familiar-feeling characters. How does she manage to accomplish this through her writing?!

In this book, we quickly meet Hannah, who works as an executive protection agent (aka a bodyguard). She mainly works with oil tycoons in Texas but a new assignment is thrust upon her in the form of protecting WORLD FAMOUS actor Jack Stapleton from a crazy stalker woman while he is home in Texas with his family. Hannah is a strong and admirable woman (with such a cool job that she does so well!) but there are a lot of layers to her character. She and Jack end up having more fun than either of them expects and the story takes off from there.

I loved the way this story played out and like I said, I found it really easy to connect with all of the characters. I know this will be a big hit for this author next summer and I can't wait to witness all of this book's success. :)

Thank you so much to MacMillan Audio and Netgalley for the audiobook!!!

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This was another cute Katherine Center story. I liked the way it took a different approach to the girl having to protect the man. I feel like I've read a similar story before but reverse point of view. I loved the complexity of the characters and how they both had their own struggles they were working through. I also like that there was a tragedy that brought everyone together, but even that had a happy ending.

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The word that comes to mind for Katherine Center's latest book is: DELIGHTFUL! This story was truly delightful! Poor Hannah has really had such a bad time in her personal life, and when Jack comes into the picture, the story turns very sweet. It was lovely watching the two of them grow close as their friendship blossomed. Together, they were such a great team.
The ending was fulfilling and, as usual, Katherine Center tugged on my heartstrings with her emotional, heartfelt writing.
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the talented Patti Murin, and her performance was perfect. Both her male and female voices are done very well.
Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance audio copy. This review is provided in exchange for an honest, unbiased opinion.

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What I Loved:
✨Faking Dating Trope - felt more realistic since “dating” was part of their working relationship. The other romance tropes include forced proximity/one bed and grumpy/sunshine - all were well written.
✨Cast of Dysfunctional Coworkers - I loved all the personalities! You always need someone to hate, and Robby is perfectly written for that role.
✨Strong MCs w/ emotional depth - Both Hannah and Jake are emotionally vulnerable and full of insecurities due to past trauma. But together, they help each other heal while discovering their own self-worth.
✨Stalker Storyline - who doesn’t love a middle-aged, corgi breeding stalker who knits sweaters with Jake’s face on it, aka The Corgi Lady. 😂
✨Uplifting Message - always a hallmark of Katherine Center’s books.
✨Patti Murin’s narration elevates the story! Murin’s comedic timing flawlessly adds just the right amount of humor to Hannah’s vulnerabilities, capturing Hannah’s soul perfectly. I highly recommend this format!

The Bodyguard is my fourth Katherine Center book and might be my new favorite, leapfrogging ahead of How To Walk Away. If you ever need a pick-me-up, do yourself a favor and read a Katherine Center book! She deserves a crown for happy reads.

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I just can’t say enough good things about Katherine Center’s writing. I was introduced to her by an independent bookstore suggesting her title Things You Save in a Fire. It was such a great read as is The Bodyguard. I just loved it. The right amount of humor and romance intertwined into a wonderful book. Highly recommend!

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<b>Katherine Center's newest light fiction offers an irresistible premise--a female bodyguard poses as the girlfriend of a heartthrob actor--and delightful, if sometimes predictable, developments that lead to a satisfying ending.</b>

I listened to <i>The Bodyguard,</i> the newest book by Katherine Center.

Hannah Brooks looks like the young woman next door--but she's actually a highly skilled Executive Protection Agent--a bodyguard. And her newest client is the Jack Stapleton, action star, household name--and, in recent years, recluse.

Someone is stalking Jack, and Hannah is bound to protect him. But Jack's mother is sick, he wants to return home to Texas, and he doesn't want his family to know he's got a stalker and be worried while they're focused on his mother's health. So against her better judgment, Hannah agrees to pose as Jack's girlfriend. Only...the longer she pretends, the more their fake relationship seems like it might have promise.

Some of the details here didn't add up for me--for example, Hannah poses as a photographer but is never asked about her career (or her long-term leave of absence from any clients or work) and she doesn't even have a camera with her, but this is not suspicious or of interest to people who are treating her like and caring for her like family. And the main "bad guys" here (Robbie, Kennedy) are so hopeless, so unkind, so clueless, and so insufferable, it's hard to imagine that either Hannah or Jack could have spent time with them in any context.

Much of Hannah's character growth in the story centers around her journey from low to medium self-esteem. This occurs while (and because?) she spends time with Jack, despite the fact that during this period she constantly questions her self-worth and attractiveness, and despite his teasing barbs that may be intended to be charmingly down-to-earth or candid but seemed jerky to me (calling Hannah "stumpy"--she is short--and "plain"--she is not a movie star).

Moments of casual comfortableness bring the characters together and are at the root of their connection--but I wished Hannah's vulnerability didn't center around her bursting into tears so frequently (despite the fact that she says she really never cries).

Yet <i>The Bodyguard</i> is fun, often charming--and the premise is absolutely irresistible. Jack's family is lovely, and there's a subplot in which Jack and his brother Hank are furious with each other after the loss of their brother, for which Jack has been blamed. This--along with a late-stage, dangerous, dramatic situation requiring Hannah's smarts and strength--adds tension and conflict to the story.

Even if some of the resolutions here are predictable, it's satisfying to know that in Center's hands, her characters are relatively safe, and that she'll deliver an ending that makes a reader happy. The journey to the conclusion is joy-filled and entertaining.

I received a prepublication audiobook version of this book courtesy of MacMillan Audio and NetGalley.

Check out the blog for my reviews of Katherine Center’s <i>What You Wish For</i> and <i>Things You Save in a Fire.</i>

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This one is a whole lot of no for me I just really didn’t like it which is abnormal because I normally love this kind of thing

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This book was cute. It was laugh out loud funny at points and kept a permanent smile on my face as I read it. It’s a closed door romance so if you are looking for spice, this isn’t the book for you.

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I just loved Katherine Center’s book The Bodyguard! I received the audiobook from NetGalley and I must say, it was one of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to, thanks to the awesome narrator and the wonderful story by this author. I usually prefer to read the book myself, but this time I thought the audiobook might even be better than doing that. When I first read the premise of the book, I wasn’t sure I would like it - but I thoroughly enjoyed this warm, funny story about a female bodyguard and the good-looking client she has to protect. The characters drew me and made me laugh and cry, but in a good, escapist way. I highly recommend this book and especially the audiobook version!

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Katherine Center is just the absolute cutest! Despite her books following somewhat of a predictable romance storyline, she always manages to add some pizazz to keep the reader guessing. I also particularly enjoyed sharing a name with this vivacious and independent main character.

I will confess, this is not my favorite of Center’s books, but that won’t stop me from quickly recommending any and all Center magic to break a reading slump and bring joy. I felt similarly to How to Walk Away in how I hold client relationships sacred and could not, would not ever cross that line. It reads deeply unprofessional and makes me like the employed person less. Sorry Hannah!

That said - I know it’s a trope and not a deal breaker for a lot of readers so ultimately this is a case of preference. I still loved the banter and sweet characters and how Hannah bounced back from some pretty terrible experiences with gusto. The family relationship was especially heartwarming and read real to me.

Thanks so much #netgalley for the #ALC to match this adorable cover. The narration was excellent and kept me engaged.

#katherinecenter #thebodyguard

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This is my fourth Katherine Center book and I've loved them all for the same reasons: heart, humor, and hope. Yes, The Bodyguard is a romance of sorts, and yes, we have a good idea of where Hannah's love life is heading, but it's like anticipating a hot fudge sundae, you know it will taste, but you look forward to it, anyway.
And this story (as with her others) is more than witty writing, it is laced with wisdom, slowly revealing the "why" to the characters' actions and decisions, bringing it home for the reader with relatable emotions and a connection that we all want... to love and be loved.
I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed the narrator! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this fun, heartfelt story!

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I inhaled The Bodyguard by Katherine Center. It’s the perfect milkshake read — goes down super easy, and is sweet and enjoyable the whole time.

The bodyguard in this book is Hannah, a professional personal protection agent assigned to guard movie star Jack Stapleton. Jack doesn’t want his family to know that he has a stalker and needs a bodyguard, so what else could they do? They had to pretend to date.

This was a very sweet story, and I honestly didn’t mind the common romance tropes that appeared. I liked the characters, and I was rooting for Hannah and Jack. There isn’t anything groundbreaking in this book, but it’s a perfect light, fun summer read. I really enjoyed it on audio.

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I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!! 10 stars!!!!

This book was so much fun. I loved every minute of it!

Hannah Brooks is our main character and she's a Executive Protection Agent. She didn't have the best childhood and had to lean on herself a lot. Her mother passes away and her boyfriend (and fellow colleague) breaks up with her the day after her mother's funeral.

Hannah is a work-a-holic and rarely takes anytime off. She's looking for a change and her company is opening a new office in London and it's between her and her ex boyfriend on who gets the job. One catch- she has to take a new job protecting a celebrity. Not just any celebrity but famous movie star Jack Stapleton. And she's not only protecting him, but she's pretending to be his girlfriend! Jack's family is going through a health crisis with his mother and the last thing he wants is for them to worry about his stalker. Jack asks Hannah to pretend to be his girlfriend so his family doesn't worry more. The journey of watching (or listening) these two characters develop was amazing. His mother requested that they stay at his families ranch until Thanksgiving. Hannah is very much a city girl so a lot of the experiences there were new to her and quite comical.

The banter between the two had me laughing out loud and smiling at the sweet moments between them.

This book was such a breath of fresh air. I didn't want it to end.

I'm now on a mission to read all of Katherine Center's books!

Thank you NetGalley and MacMillan audio for the advanced audiobook for my honest review.

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4.5 stars!

I’m torn between 4-5 stars here, but after some of my other recent reads, I’m realizing that I actually want to bump this one up even more.

Katherine Center has become one of my favorite authors, and I love that her books provide that heartwarming story when I just need something to escape with.

I loved that THE BODYGUARD featured a woman in a male dominated field, as an Executive Protection Agent, and that while you do have to suspend reality a bit here (Hannah comes off as kind of immature, and although she’s small and mighty, could she realistically defend a high profile celebrity like Jack Stapleton?)

Either way, I devoured the story and ended up alternating between the physical book and the audiobook, which was narrated by Patti Murin. The fake dating storyline and the funny banter between Hannah and Jack was the best, and I thought the narrator was a great choice!

*many thanks to St Martin’s Press/Macmillan Audio and Netgalley for the gifted copy and ALC for review

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I have read several books by Katherine Center and have loved each one. The Bodyguard was no exception! It was just the type of book I longed for without realizing it. The Bodyguard was a heartwarming romance that was uplifting and put a big smile on my face. I loved the characters and the back and forth banter between them.

Hannah Brooks was an Executive Protection Agent or bodyguard and she was one of the best her company had. Her mother had just died and Hannah was about to have one of the worst days of her life. Even though her mother’s funeral was just the previous day, Hannah found it hard to stay home and grieve. She was determined to go back to work and stay busy the only way she knew how to. Little did Hannah know that she was about to suffer one of the worst days of her life. Hannah’s long time boyfriend decided to break up with her. How could he have been so insensitive to break up with her the day after her mother’s funeral? He had even attended the funeral. When Hannah asked why, he told her she was a bad kisser. The nerve of him! Was it true? Those words would stick with Hannah. Then her boss told Hannah that she was being replaced by her best friend for an upcoming assignment Hannah had been looking forward to. She had been assigned to travel to Madrid, Spain. Her best friend and her ex-boyfriend were going to be sent to Madrid together instead. What else could go wrong? Her boss demanded that Hannah take a month off.

When Hannah returned to work after her month off, she was assigned to a case she never would have expected to be assigned to. It was right in her backyard of Houston, Texas. No need to travel very far. Hannah was to be the bodyguard for actor, Jack Stapleton. The assignment required Hannah to live on her client’s family’s farm with him so she could protect him from a stalker threat. Jack Stapleton had recently returned to Houston to be with his mother who had been recently diagnosed with cancer. Jack and Hannah’s first encounter started off a bit shaky to say the least. Jack mistook Hannah for a maid. He had not been informed by his agent that a bodyguard was showing up at his home to protect him. Jack finally agreed to the arrangement but informed Hannah that he did not want to upset his parents or worry them. They agreed to pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Jack and Hannah agreed that they would take part in “fake dating”. What transpired between Jack and Hannah will make you smile, laugh out loud at times and just feel good.

I really enjoyed The Bodyguard by Katherine Center. I have come to expect upbeat books by this author and The Bodyguard definitely fit that description in my opinion. Romantic Rom-Com books are not my usual genre but sometimes they work for me and this one surely did. I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for allowing me to listen to this audiobook through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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5/5

Thank you Macmillan Audio for the gifted listening copy!

"She's got his back. He's got her heart." When movie star Jack Stapleton returns to Houston to be at his ailing mother's bedside, executive protection agent (aka bodyguard) Hannah Brooks and her team are hired to protect him from all threats, including his long time stalker. Jack has been off the grid for a while, and they are determined to keep his return a secret. In order to not add stress to Mrs. Stapleton's life, Jack refuses to let his family know about his EPA, causing recently-dumped Hannah to spend weeks pretending to be Jack's girlfriend. Soon enough, things start to feel real and Hannah finds herself struggling to differentiate between reality and Jack's exceptional acting.

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK!

First of all, I tend to lean towards thrillers for audiobooks (they keep me enticed while I'm listening and doing other tasks) so this was a step outside of my comfort zone, and it paid off! Patti Murin did a phenomenal job telling Jack and Hannah's story. I really felt like she WAS Hannah, recounting this adorable tale right to me! Katherine Center's fabulous writing worked in her favor, too. I truly laughed out lout a few times listening to this alone in the car, and, once I stated, I couldn't put this down!

THE BODYGUARD is a sweet, fake-dating trope rom com, but it's so much more than that! It's about vulnerability, human connection, strength, resilience, and learning to love yourself! Throw in a totally loveable main character, a hot and emotionally available leading man, and a little bit of mystery and you've got yourself a book to treasure for a long time to come. I can't recommend this one enough!

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The Bodyguard by Katherine Center
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Bodyguard tells the story of an atypical “executive protection agent” - bodyguard. At 5’ 6”, Hannah is not who you expect to be guarding celebrities and high dollar clients. When she is placed on the job for Hollywood star, Jack Stapleton, she loudly refuses. But her boss does not intend to let her off of this one. Jack and Hannah are thrown into more than they ever expected.

This book had aspects that made me laugh out loud, that squeezed my heart, and that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. I loved the atypical plot line of a female bodyguard and all of the shenanigans that came along with it. There were multiple very serious themes introduced and discussed, but also some hilarious comedy and romance.

The ‘falls for the man AND falls for his family’ trope melts me every single time. I love the picture painted of this family. Both of the MCs have been through some intense trauma, and the author did an excellent job of walking us through their journey.

There were so many beautiful takeaways written throughout this story. Multiple characters had lessons to learn that will impact the reader along the way.

My only complaint was that some of the pacing was a little off for me at times - some conversations went on too long, or some aspects felt random - but overall, nothing that kept me from enjoying this book!

I appreciated the clean/closed door romance that had an excellent plot that didn’t require smut to interest the reader. 👏🏻

The narrator of this audiobook did an excellent job. I was very happy with the performance and I had no complaints. I enjoyed the voices for each character and the presentation was well done.

Thank you to Macmillan audio, Netgalley, and the publisher for a review copy of this book.

Review published at Instagram.com/thereallifebookreviewer on 7/25/22.

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