She doesn’t want a bodyguard.
He doesn’t want to want her.
Together they must fight for their lives.
A politician’s daughter… and CEO
Successful IT executive Emily Valente has no time for her estranged politician mother – so she is not happy when a threat to her mother leaves her with two WASP bodyguards on the biggest night of her career. Especially when one of those bodyguards is a tall, sexy, distraction.
The bodyguard who never breaks the rules
For WASP bodyguard Griffin Walters it was just a standard job – except for his unwanted attraction to the smart and stubborn woman he’s assigned to protect. But then the impossible happens, and suddenly Griff is fighting not only to save Emily’s life, but also his own.
Corruption that runs deep
With no idea who they can trust, Griff and Emily must work together to survive the night. Sparks fly and passion runs hot – but are they willing to break their own rules to risk a future together?
Or will the last person they expect betray them before they ever get that chance?
Emily Valente has been summoned; her mother has some important information for her that cannot be imparted over the phone. Donna Valente is the premier of Western Australia and it’s taken a long time for Emily to have some autonomy far away from the spotlight her mother basks in.
There’s a viable threat from the Notechi, against not only the premier but also Emily and bodyguards are being assigned. Emily hasn’t had bodyguards in a long time and while she understands the importance of them, she has a life. Emily is up for an award she has worked very hard to win and there is no way she’s not attending the awards ceremony.
Griffin Walters is to be one of Emily’s bodyguards, he meets her for the first time by her literally running into him. He’s immediately attracted to her something that hasn’t happened to him before. Duty comes first, always.
Griff was the one inside the ballroom at the awards, while his partner Ben Smith handled things outside. All was going well, until it wasn’t.
This is a favorites scene.
Griff stood at the side of the ballroom as Emily’s hands flew to cover her mouth in surprise. Her friends cheered as she got to her feet and the whole room watched as she took a deep breath, straightened her shoulders, and made her way to the stage, smiling at well-wishers as she navigated the sea of oversized round tables.
She was beautiful. Griff already knew that, of course.
But she was also obviously so much more.
He was intrigued by the woman now standing behind a podium beneath the spotlight, angular glass trophy in hand. Right now, Emily was all strength and authority. She was clearly in her element, surrounded by her peers, receiving an accolade Griff had no doubt she thoroughly deserved. She was steady and poised, and spoke to the room in a manner not dissimilar to her mother’s – in a way that demanded your full attention.
But he’d also seen another side of her. The version of Emily Valente who sprinted down hallways in tears, and blushed when he stood near. Who had no qualms commanding he not look at her, and yet – right now – caught his gaze across the hundreds of people in the ballroom.
Just as she had when she’d been talking to her friend. Her beautiful golden eyes hot and intense, and absolutely compelling.
No way was she seeing pity in his gaze right now.
And she looked at him like she couldn’t not, even though he knew she didn’t want to.
Damn, he knew his reasons he should look away. Right now, with his firearm against his hip, it was absolutely inappropriate to be looking at her like this, to be intrigued by her like this. Yet – he couldn’t stop.
“Griff, it’s Smith.”
The voice in his earpiece snapped him out of … whatever that had just been. As he watched, Emily went back to her speech, speaking as beautifully and articulately as if that pause to look at him had never happened. As if Griff had imagined it entirely.
“What’s up,” he said roughly.
“We need to get Ms Valente out,” Smith said. “Just got off the phone to Boots”—the E-SWAT CPP senior sergeant—“and new intel puts Notechi patch members in the vicinity of the hotel. She’s not safe here.”
It was all he needed to know.
“Onto it,” he said.
Griff looked around the ballroom. Nothing had changed from a minute ago. The room was still secure, and the awards evening carried on, the crowd breaking into applause as Emily stepped away from the podium and walked back to her table.
He made his way around the edge of the ballroom, watching Emily as she paused briefly to talk to others in the crowd. On the stage, the nominees for the next award were announced, and the spotlight was no longer on the woman in the slinky midnight dress.
Of course, his attention was still on her, but she didn’t look at him as she made her way to her table. But she definitely looked at him when he met her there, his words low and clear. “We need to leave.”
Her eyes widened, but she didn’t protest. She simply nodded, grabbed that tiny clutch handbag thing and excused herself from her friends. He didn’t bother to see their reactions, he was already guiding her out of the room, not touching her, but moving right at her shoulder. In his ear, the other CPP officers confirmed it was safe to exit the ballroom, and so they did, heading for the same route they took to enter the hotel.
“What’s going on?” Emily asked in the deserted hallway, their brisk footsteps muffled on the thick carpet.
“Notechi gang members were spotted nearby, and intel believe they’re on their way here.”
They reached the facilities elevator which Griff immediately ignored for the emergency staircase – it was quicker than waiting for the elevator to arrive. Now their footsteps were loud on the utilitarian concrete stairs.
“But why?” Emily said. “This makes no sense. Why would they want me?”
“It’s pretty standard for bad guys to go after the families of politicians,” Griff replied as they reached the last landing before the final flight of stairs to the basement car park.
“Yeah, in movies,” Emily said, almost running down the steps beside him. “That kind of stuff doesn’t happen in Perth.”
They’d made it to the heavy exit door, but Griff stopped dead, his hand gripping the handle hard.
Emily looked up at him, her forehead crinkled in response to the sudden pause in their urgent journey.
“Of course that stuff fucking happens in Perth,” Griff said harshly. “This is real, Emily. It’s happening right now. What do you think we’re running from? The Notechi don’t fuck around.”
As he watched, her face paled. “Is my mum okay? Have they already got to her?”
“All I know is to get you out of here, Ms Valente,” Griff said shoving the door open.
Ashton, Leah. Elite SWAT Box Set: Books 1-3 Kindle Locations (5396-5437). Kindle Edition.
To say things go FUBAR is an understatement as everything ramps up and the players are not who I expected at all. Now they’re on the run, and don’t know who they can trust.
So many twists and turns as Griff and Emily run for their lives, get to know each other and their relationship even gets pretty steamy.
I look forward to catching up on the rest of this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Leah!
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RITA® Award-winning author Leah Ashton writes fast-paced romantic suspense and smart, modern contemporary romance. All her books feature strong heroines, deliciously heroic heroes and swoon worthy happily ever afters.
Leah lives in Perth, Western Australia with her gorgeous husband, two amazing daughters and the best intentions to meal plan and have an effortlessly tidy home. When she’s not writing, Leah loves all day breakfast, rambling conversations and laughing until she cries. She really hates cucumber. And scary movies.