on February 1st 2020
Genres: Romance, Suspense
Can the witness protection program keep her identity secret?
After Allison James finally escapes her marriage to a monster, she becomes the star witness in the case against her deceased husband's powerful crime family. Now it's up to US Marshal Jaxson Stevens, Ali's ex-boyfriend, to keep the WITSEC widow safe. But as the danger escalates and sparks fly, will Jax be able to help Ali escape her ruthless in-laws?
I’m taking part in the blog tour for Witness Protection Widow today, thanks to Harlequin. I got an email about possible upcoming tours and thought, since I’m trying to read more romance and join in with romanceopoly, why not? I really liked the look of Witness Protection Widow, which is a romance premise I’ve not come across before, so here are my thoughts on my first ever Harlequin Intrigue title!
Ali was drawn in by the powerful and mysterious Harrison Armone, who treats her like a princess, until she stumbles on the fact he’s been living a lie. She had no idea she’d married into a criminal family, but once her eyes are opened and consequences ensue, she’s left in the unenviable position of having to testify against his family.
The Armone family are serious criminals, and while Ali is waiting to testify, she’s forced into hiding to keep her safe. Whilst in witness protection, she ends up being guarded by Jax Stevens – her first love, whom she hasn’t seen in a decade.
This is a second-chance romance, and I loved the premise. I don’t know if you ever saw the cheesy MK & Ashley Olsen movie Our Lips Are Sealed, but I loved it as a young teenager (showing my age now) and this was like an aged-up, romantic version of that. The relationship between the characters, the longing for them to communicate and figure things out, the twists and turns in the plot all had me absolutely hooked, and I flew through the book in a couple of hours. Imagine a Nora Roberts novel mixed together with an episode of Criminal Minds and that’s the vibe this book gives off.
Witness Protection Widow is actually part of a series, though it reads like a standalone – you can definitely enjoy it without reading the others. The fact it is part of a series though, focusing on other characters for other stories, is the kind of thing I love – extra stories in the same world, with characters you know and love, that adds more to the story without making this novel unsatisfying or end on a cliffhanger? PERFECT.
Characters-wise, I really liked both Ali and Jax. While they’ve each made mistakes, they’ve grown a lot as people since their first attempt at romance, and they’re both strong, independent characters of their own, not just romantic interests for the other. Ali has been through a lot, and the book doesn’t shy away from how that makes her feel – the embarrassment, the panic attacks, the need to keep everyone else safe – but it never makes her seem like a helpless victim. She’s fierce, and determined, and has no intention of letting the Armone family win. Jax is stubborn, strong-willed, and a little overbearing at first, but he becomes likeable as the book goes on and he becomes a little less close-minded. I liked the supporting characters, and will argue that every book is improved by an animal, so I of course loved Bob the dog.
My one criticism of the book is that I felt it could have been longer – dare I say it, a lot longer. The story is focused on getting Ali to trial safely, but the final chapters seemed like a bit of an anti-climax. I’d have liked to see more of the court room and the testimony, more of the aftermath of everything that happened. I’d definitely be interested in going and picking up the rest of the series though, as well as other work by Debra Webb or other titles in the Harlequin Intrigue series, as this was a very addictive, very enjoyable welcome back to the world of romance!