Parker had a lot of things pushed into the rooms in her head, and every time she slammed a door, she hoped the lock would hold and it would stay closed for a little while longer. One of these days, those doors were going to fly open and all the crap was going to come crashing out on her, drowning her in a pile of unfinished business.
Parker Cotton has just come back from a forward deployment in the desert and discovered that her husband has thrown all of her belongings in storage and drawn up divorce papers. She wasn’t supposed to be on deployment at all but somehow a computer glitch deleted all genders and she was selected along with her Air Force unit for a botched assignment they were unprepared for. While she was away she was badly injured. Two of her team were killed. Returning home to the ruins of her life with painful physical injuries and emotional scars that will take a long time to heal, she’s in a bad way. On top of this she and her colleague Gray have some distinctly non-professional feelings for each other. How complicated can life get? Very.
So, my problem here is that this novel turned into something I wasn’t expecting. I like Parker. She’s tough, smart, no nonsense and funny. She’s been through hell and she’s not sure how to process it all, let alone how to support the people around her. I like some of Scott’s turns of phrase, too, particularly when she was writing Parker’s character. What I didn’t like was the way all the guys got together and chatted about her, figuring out how to protect Parker, from herself, from her ex, from the world. I liked Parker being tough and smart and no nonsense. I liked her independence. If you’re going to write a tough woman props to you, that sounds awesome. But then actually allow her to be that instead of having the guys run around after her.
“If nothing else about this deployment went right – our people did right. Clearly, our NCOs stepped up and led the way. And you are absolutely correct. They do see it as just doing their job. Everyone here knows what these NCOs and the rest of this deployed unit have displayed – it’s valor!” His voice rang through the room. “I give you all my word that we won’t let it be forgotten.” It was a solemn vow to the troops under his command.
I think I’ve already mentioned my problem with exclamation points. Exclamation points coupled with italics bothers me even more. It could be a condition of my own, I don’t know. I also hate the use of the word “gotten”. In fact, I don’t really like “got” either. Look, I’m just difficult to get along with. I have problems with beetroot too but that doesn’t seem to affect my reading.
I should have known it was going to turn into a romance from the title, I suppose. But the drama-llama approach made me resistant to this novel. And, despite some lingering questions about the feasibility of the plot, we’re given far too much information that we don’t really need. Scott seems to have fallen foul of the maxim “show don’t tell”. Reading this feels like being spoonfed and it makes the plot drag. Scott could trust her reader a little more. Know they’ll make logical leaps if she just leaves the breadcrumbs out. Thankfully the romance wasn’t soppy and the sex scenes were not cringey. If you’re in it for the romance and the plucky lead character you might overlook the other problems.
Also, what’s with romance and weird character names? Can we just agree to stop doing this?
Protecting Parker, Lynne Scott: two stars.
Read it if: you want romance amid trauma, you’re not turned off by military detail and pages of gun lust.
I was provided with a free Kindle version by the author for review.