Leigh Somerall never intended to return to Logan’s Point. As a teenager, she was branded a rebel and never sat on good terms with the town’s sheriff, and as a college student she left town abruptly, breaking the heart of the sheriff’s son. Now a doctor and a single mother, she finds herself back in Logan’s Point to spend time with her brother and fulfil a work commitment that will pay off the last of her student loans. Her initial plans to avoid Ben Logan, the boy she once fell in love with, evaporate when her brother is murdered and Ben is heading up the investigation.
Ben Logan has been acting as sheriff ever since his father’s stroke, which occurred after an attempt on his life. Ben had hoped that Leigh’s brother might hold the key to the reason why someone would want to kill Logan’s Point’s sheriff, but the man turns up dead before he can gain any insight. Ben is determined to protect Leigh and her son from any further harm, even if his old sweetheart consistently resists his help. The more time they spend together, the more Ben wonders if Leigh has a deeper motive from wanting to stay away from him—one that’s linked to the reason why she left town so abruptly all those years ago.
Before either of them can examine their past relationship and open up to each other, they have to figure out who killed Leigh’s brother, and if he intends to harm another member of her family—and why.
Prior to this year, I wouldn’t have considered myself a fan of romantic suspense novels. Patricia Bradley’s debut novel, Shadows of the Past, changed that for me, and I was eager to read the second book in her Logan’s Point series. Although it took me a while to remember who all of the secondary characters were and how they linked back to the first instalment, I won’t deny that A Promise for Protect got off to an intriguing start.
This is one of those mysteries that sucks you in and makes you ask a dozen questions.
Why is Leigh’s brother dead? What does he know about Ben’s father? How are these two men even connected?
Leigh isn’t the easiest character to warm up to, simply because she keeps herself closed off from everyone. But once you get to know her and understand her past experiences, the reason for her behaviour becomes apparent. Still, even if I understood Leigh’s actions, I think I related to Ben a lot more. It’s not often that I find the hero of a romance novel more appealing than the heroine, so Patricia Bradley obviously writes great heroes! In spite of—or rather, because of—all their flaws, Ben and Leigh were definitely realistic protagonists. They aren’t perfect, and even if they do have history, it takes a while before they can trust each other.
I’m definitely a sucker for reunion romances, especially when they have children involved. Leigh’s son, TJ, was a sweet and endearing character, and the way that Ben interacted with him made him all the more a loveable hero. The truth about TJ is revealed to the reader very early in the novel, but it felt like it took forever for Ben to finally learn about him. Given how long it took for the secret to be revealed, I expected Ben’s reaction to be a bit more dramatic. The climax of this part of the story fell a bit flat for me, maybe just because it was so drawn out. I was relieved when it finally occurred, but Ben seemed to recover relatively quickly.
In spite of how much page-time Leigh’s secret takes up, the real mystery actually has nothing to do with TJ. After having read several romantic suspense novels this year, I’m starting to realise that I prefer the novels that focus on characters in the police force (or similar occupations) and show how they investigate mysteries.
I really enjoyed seeing how the mystery unfolded and evolved from one murder to something much more in-depth.
I don’t want to spoil anything for potential readers, but I definitely didn’t guess some of the twists that this novel took.
Talking of guessing, I kept hopping back and forth on who the villain of the story was. We get some insights into his point-of-view throughout the novel, but even those are vague enough to keep the reader in the dark. I’ve read a few novels recently where the villain’s perspective either didn’t add much to the story or felt cheesy, but its inclusion worked very well in A Promise to Protect. I had my suspicions about a few characters who looked like they might have motives, but even right before the villain was revealed, I was still dithering between two options. I recall struggling to solve the mystery in Shadows of the Past, so Patricia Bradley definitely has a knack for creating mysteries that are tough to get to the bottom of.
Aside from getting a little tired of Leigh not telling the truth about her son, my only other complaint about A Promise to Protect pertains to the spiritual aspect of the story. While I thought that message was an important one, the way in which it was presented felt a little forced. Leigh had a friend who had supported her and TJ and become almost a grandmother figure, and while I liked her character initially, it sometimes felt like she only appeared on the scene to present some wisdom to Leigh in her time of need. This situation occurred multiple times, and it felt a bit preachy after a while. She seemed more like a vehicle through which a message was presented than a three-dimensional character. This was only a minor annoyance, and I’m sure it won’t bother all readers.
A Promise to Protect proves once again that Patricia Bradley has a talent for writing intriguing, complex mysteries that are difficult to solve.
Fans of her first novel won’t be disappointed, and hopefully this book will endear some new readers to her as well.