Title: Model Bodyguard
Series: Haven Investigations: Book Two
Author: Lissa Kasey
Narrator: Brian Hutchison
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 9 hours and 47 minutes
Category: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: I enjoyed Brian Hutchison’s narration, particularly since I wasn’t much of a fan of the first book’s narrator, who was good as Ollie but had trouble with the other voices. Hutchinson has a better range of character voices and tones and does a good job with the material.
Reviewed By: Jovan
Blurb: Things are going well for androgynous model Ollie Petroskovic, ex-Marine Kade Alme, and their business, Haven Investigations, until rock star Jacob Elias shows up in need of their services… and trouble follows.
Jacob is a playboy with a serious penchant for kink, slaves, and sex toys. He’s also Ollie’s ex—and all that implies. With the media exploiting his personal life, a stalker sending blood-soaked “gifts,” a bumbling security team, and a family he can’t trust as far as he could throw them, Jacob is in desperate need of a bodyguard for his latest tour, and Kade can’t refuse.
While Kade deals with new doubts about his partnership with Ollie and struggles with reminders of his war injuries, Jacob’s stalker escalates from blackmail and threats to murder. As Kade and Ollie work to keep Jacob safe and find the culprit behind the attack, a web of family secrets, lies, and abuse slowly emerges, leading up to a final confrontation that they might not walk away from—and that will have lasting repercussions for Kade and his relationship with Ollie.
Review: In Model Bodyguard, the sequel to Model Citizen, the POV switches to Kade as he and Ollie are pulled into the complicated life of Ollie’s ex, Jacob. At first, Kade wants nothing to do with protecting the man who acts like an entitled ass and who hurt Ollie so badly and filled him with more self-doubt. However, Kade can’t ignore the fact that Jacob is in more trouble than he wants to admit. As Kade and Ollie dig into Jacob’s life and spend more time with him, all three men have to deal with the ruin of Jacob and Ollie’s past as well as Ollie and Kade’s future, a future that is put on hold when Jacob’s stalker makes a final bid that leaves devastating wreckage in its wake.
Frankly, I almost wished I hadn’t read Model Citizen because, on its own merits, Model Bodyguard is a good story. It has some pacing issues as it deals heavily in Ollie’s mental and physical health issues, so Kade’s constant affirmations of Ollie’s beauty and ruminations on his health come in chunks that eventually interrupt the flow of the narrative and get a little redundant. However, the information adds depth and complexity to the characters, and tackles important issues. Unfortunately, not only does the book brush off the “someone killed my brother” ending of the first book in a way that basically backtracks that revelation into “well, we have questions, but Nathan probably killed himself”, it almost completely changes Ollie’s character.
I get that by changing from Ollie’s to Kade’s POV, there is going to be differences in the emphasis or perception of Ollie’s personality, but the feisty, independent and sometimes annoyingly whiny Ollie of the first book is replaced by a ghost of himself. Maybe this is due to the fact that Ollie has been in therapy for his depression and has been diagnosed with an eating disorder for eight months, so he’s more “stable”. However, he is presented as much needier and less capable. While Ollie is definitely an emotional mess in the first book, and I can see him allowing himself to be more vulnerable with Kade’s support and presence, he almost fades away in this book. This change in Ollie’s character also makes it feel more like Kade is Ollie’s caretaker, and Ollie is not an equal partner in a healthy relationship, especially when he makes a ridiculously stupid and unnecessary decision in the last act that feels counter to what Ollie learned and the caution he gained at the end of the first book—all of which I found distracting to the storytelling.
My biggest issue with the book, though, has to do with a certain aspect of Kade’s past that is the cliffhanger for the story and appears to be the driving motivation for the next book that just tested my suspension of disbelief way too much.
I did enjoy Brian Hutchison’s narration, particularly since I wasn’t much of a fan of the first book’s narrator, who was good as Ollie but had trouble with the other voices. Hutchison has a better range of character voices and tones and does a good job with the material. His pacing is even and his emotional range good.
Overall, I enjoyed Model Bodyguard, more than its predecessor in many ways. While Ollie’s character change seems a bit too drastic, as there is no real input from Ollie’s perspective about his personal development, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find him much more enjoyable in this book than the first, and found Kade’s obviously soothing, caring presence a good fit for Ollie’s high-strung nature. Additionally, the mystery in this one was much more engaging, although I am again struck by a moment of “really?” when it comes to how the situation was allowed to get as bad as it did. The way in which Kasey handles how Ollie, Kade, and Jacob deal with Ollie and Jacob’s history, and the development of Jacob from a one-dimensional bad ex into a fully-formed, complex and sympathetic character, is well done, though.
You can buy Model Bodyguard here:
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