published: 3rd September 2019
Naomi Barnaby’s husband, the Earl of Walridge, just died under mysterious circumstances. Her third husband to do so in just a handful of years. She wants to know if the men in her life were murdered and hires investigators Captain Marcus Ridgeway and Everett Bryant, Marquis of Glenmarrow to look into the matter.
When the alluring Naomi is attacked in their driveway, Marcus and Everett decide to take a far more personal interest in protecting her and uncovering who killed the men in her life. Soon the three are involved in an intense affair that challenges feelings between each member of their triad.
But the shared history between Marcus and Everett is something that cannot be ignored. And those threatening Naomi may destroy everything the three could mean to each other and the unique future they long to build.
“We three,” said Marcus, “until the sun stops rising.”
Galley provided by publisher
CWs: creepy stepbrother obsessed with stepsister
Up until now, I had never read anything by Jess Michaels. What caught my attention about this one was the polyamory (I’m a simple reader, I see polyamory, I click want to read). So, I had no particular expectations going into this. To say I was pleasantly surprised sounds trite, and as though I wasn’t expecting to be surprised, but it’s the truth here. This book managed to juggle three POVs, a mystery, and character development all in less than 80 pages, and it was wonderful.
Guarding the Countess opens with Naomi, the countess, heading to visit a private investigator (Marcus), after her third husband’s untimely, and downright suspicious, death. But instead of one investigator there are two (Everett being the second), and when someone tries to kill Naomi on the driveway outside Marcus’ house, they offer to place her under their protection (which means a helluva lot more than actual protection, as you might have guessed).
What I loved about this book is that, even though it’s a novella, Michaels spends time on each character approximately equally (maybe Naomi slightly more than the others at first, but it evens out). You meet each of them and their worries and desires, so they all grow on you (and have you rolling your eyes when they do something that is clearly meant to deny themselves happiness). And the bi characters (Everett and Marcus) get to talk about being bi, and attracted to more than one gender.
But while there is a lot of time spent developing the relationship (after a pretty rapid start, admittedly), Michaels doesn’t forget about the mystery. Yes, it’s fairly obvious who did it (there’s about one suspect), but there is still some actual investigating going on. It’s not like they wholly stumble on the culprit totally by accident.
If there’s one thing I needed from this book though? More of it. It did feel a little compacted into the novella, like a full-length novel could have expanded more on their developing relationship.
But basically, that’s me just being greedy and wanting more of these three.