Her Secret Guardian
by Sally Tyler Hayes, contemporary (2000)
Silhouette Intimate Moments, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-27082-8

What do you call a book that has me laughing in delight and vicarious happiness when I finish it? I call it keeper. And Her Secret Guardian, the latest category by Sally Tyler Hayes is definitely a keeper.

Never mind the rather typical heroine. Hero Sean Douglass is a very special man. He is really a most magnetic, charismatic, hunky romance hero. A secret agent dude in the top secret Division One agency, his job is to watch over and protect Dr Grace Evans as she goes on her humanitarian acts in areas not exactly conducive for one's well-being. And she doesn't even know his name.

I think that's the most romantic set-up I've read in a while. And underneath their strong exteriors, Grace and Sean are very lonely, very alone persons for whom their symbiotic relationship soon means more to each other than they would like to admit. Things come to a head when they end up in a cave together, and I start urging him to "Oh just kiss her!"

Forget the drama and the plot. Her Secret Guardian just smolders in emotions and poignancy. These two people have baggage, and boy, they would have to work so many things out before they can start going to PTAs together. But Sean, oh what a man! Reliable, mysterious, dangerous, yet witty and sensitive - and let's not forget sexy - he can step right over anytime. His pain is real, and it brings a warm smile to me to see him finally happy.

The only downside is Grace. Her hysterical reaction at the pinnacle of the story almost derails my enjoyment of Her Secret Guardian. Yes, she still demands on saving the world and pouting when she can't, that misguided Joan of Arc she is. But hey, I don't mind marking down my standards for uncharismatic heroines this time, not when I close the book with the image of Sean Douglass walking off into a happily-ever-after.

What a man. What combustible sexual tension. Her Secret Guardian has a dangerous man protecting the woman he loves. How more breathtakingly romantic can that be? With Sean in the limelight, honey, it's much much much more.

Rating: 90

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