The other week I reviewed Rhonda Nelson’s recently released novel, The Professional, the thirteenth book in her Men Out of Uniform series. Starring former Army Ranger Jeb Anderson recently employed by Ranger Security (the firm that links the entire series together), we discover in that tale of true love that Jeb is a twin. His twin, Judd, is still in the military – albeit clearly disillusioned – and likely to follow his brother into stateside civilian life.
Which is exactly what he does. Whereas Jeb is charming, funny and blond, Judd is dark-haired, dark-eyed and sarcastic, although that last quality could have something to do with being a little jaded. After all, when your sniper nickname is “the angel of death” it’s hard to maintain a sunny disposition. But after he chokes making a kill, Judd knows its time to leave the military. Working at a security firm filled with former rangers and with the top-flight reputation Ranger Security possesses is a good alternative.
Doing well on his first assignment is vital and he approaches the safe house where Noelle Montgomery, a witness in an organized crime murder, is being protected he feels he can handle this and make a good impression on his bosses. That is, until he gets one look at the red-haired beauty cheerfully bossing around her protection and feels the earth rearrange itself around him.
Judd knows something similar had recently happened to his twin Jeb when he found Sophie, his wife, but Judd is damned if he’s going to let this kind of complication into his own organized world. He orders Noelle to stop what she’s doing and get her stuff together and is pissed and shocked when she lets him know she doesn’t appreciate his tone. She then goes into the bedroom and calls Ranger Security to ask for a new agent. Talk about infuriating and embarrassing for your first day on the job!
Whereas the romance between Jeb and Sophie in The Professional had a lot of heat but also fun and tenderness (and hilarious humor), the heat between Judd and Noelle is intense – and granted, having her life on the line is a higher stake than finding a jewel thief stealing from old people. The two of them are strong personalities with a lot of back and forth banter and it takes the acknowledgement from both of them that there is something between them to encourage them to make the next move. The next move officially being “yowza” and involving a heart-shaped tub which will live in my mind for quite some time.
As with other Nelson novels, there is a mystical and visceral sense of “rightness” or destiny that descends on each person upon sight and only intensifies with time. I love this romance trope and it does not deflect from the two people needing to get to know each other, it merely speeds things up a bit. While I’m including this in the holiday collection since Christmas is rapidly approaching in the book (and Noelle was born on Christmas, hence her name), it would be a great book if you’re a little Christmas-ed out since the holiday is a very minor plot device.
This book didn’t end with a wedding, so Nelson better make sure we see these two people living a happily ever after in the next novel in the series! 🙂 Thanks for another great Men Out of Uniform, Rhonda!