In Safe Keeping
Harlequin Escape Publishing
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
When widowed family lawyer Laila Richards met hotshot Evan Barclay it was only supposed to stay casual. After mourning the loss of her husband who was her childhood sweetheart for several years, a casual liason with Evan was Laila’s first step back into the game. When they end up on opposing sides in a very high profile divorce case, the conflict of interest gives Laila an excuse to end the affair. It wouldn’t be appropriate to be sleeping with the opposing counsel and Laila knows if her client were ever to find out, she’d lose the job. And Laila very much needs a high profile case. It’s incredibly important to her.
But staying away from each other isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when it appears that Laila is in danger. Evan wants nothing more than to keep her safe, especially as he fears that his client may be the reason she’s in danger in the first place. But the more he learns about something else Laila has been working on, the more he decides that they might need a bit of assistance from the husband of his boss. Whether Laila likes it or not, he’s sticking around because what they have is definitely more than just a casual affair.
Both Evan and Laila have baggage and are fighting against client confidentiality and a conflict of interests. But none of that matters because they need to find out who is behind trying to hurt Laila. With each new event, it escalates in severity and Evan has to protect her and prove to her that he’s in this for the long run. No more sneaking around.
I was excited when I saw this book pop up on NetGalley because I didn’t know about it. I’ve read both of Lee Christine’s previous “In Safe” books and absolutely loved them. So I downloaded it immediately and even though I have other books that I probably should be reading, I had to bump this one straight to the top of the pile. I actually read it on my new iPad, first book that I’ve read on it and I have to say that my poor Kindle may be gathering dust from now on!
As with the other two books, this one is super polished, smart and fast paced with likable characters and a great mystery. There’s real depth to both the story and the characters. I liked Laila immediately. She’s had a bit of a rough time of it – difficult upbringing, married her childhood sweetheart and became an Army wife, moving around to wherever her husband was posted. She lost her husband a few years ago in an Army exercise gone wrong and now she seeks to clear his name. In order to do that she needs money and a high profile divorce case will certainly help her reputation and draw other wealthy clients.
The complication is that her current…. friend with benefits is opposing counsel and Laila is far too professional and far too invested to have anything potentially cropping up that could destroy her case and damage her attempts to seek better clients. She tries to walk away, telling Evan that they can no longer see each other late at night personally and must keep their interactions restricted to the courtroom or liaising on behalf of their clients. Evan seems to think they can continue their personal relationship as well as their professional one without a problem – he’s very reluctant to let go of what he has with Laila, even though it hasn’t really progressed beyond late-night booty calls as such. When it becomes obvious that Laila is in danger, Evan is even more determined to keep her close by. It’s concern and a desire to protect her and keep her safe and it’s also a bit of suspicion. He’s not 100% sure that he hasn’t inadvertently placed her in the path of the danger, so he wants to make sure that it’s not connected to him and his client, who is someone that he cares about, that has done a lot for him.
I loved both Evan and Laila, both separate and together. Laila is strong – she’s had to develop that strength and she’s needed it to get her through some pretty difficult times. I think romance novels containing widows (or widowers) can be difficult, because it can be a challenge to blend that amount of love and respect for the deceased partner with the thrill of falling in love again, with someone just as special albeit in a different way. Lee Christine manages this perfectly – I never felt like either relationship was dominant and both were part of what had shaped Laila in the past and what was helping shape her now. Evan is an interesting character too, I found his background playing pro rugby union a fun addition – it’s definitely something new and not what I expected for a lawyer working for a big firm in Sydney. It fleshed out the man behind the corporate image nice and made him uniquely equipped to deal with the threat to Laila’s safety. As someone who had been in the public eye, he knew how to protect his privacy.
Happily for me, I didn’t guess who was behind the threat to Laila – it was something that was definitely unexpected but made sense. The whole story kept me guessing and the pacing was excellent, the way suspense built and continued to build. I hope Lee Christine continues with this loosely linked series, I would happily read a dozen more.
Book #246 of 2014
In Safe Keeping is book #89 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014