This first book in the Savage Seven series spends a bit more time on spy action than romance, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the romance doesn't so much develop as strike a repetitive single note. Olivia is infuriatingly pampered, almost childlike, and not the most sympathetic heroine, nor one readers will eagerly cheer on. That said, the plot is intriguing, the tension builds nicely and when the romantic leads do consummate their love, the scenes are extremely hot and deftly written.
Olivia Pontouf is engaged to Ray Lambert, a diamond-mine manager in South Africa who has been engaging in fraudulent business practices. When Olivia stumbles upon incriminating evidence against him, Ray plots to have her killed. Enter Kirk Mann and the Savage Seven, a group of tough and ruthless mercenaries who have been hired to protect Olivia. Kirk is an ascetic ex-Marine of few words, unlike anyone the socialite has ever met, but he makes her feel safer than she has ever felt, and she doesn't want to let that feeling go. Does Kirk feel the same way, or is Olivia just another job to him? (BRAVA, Aug., 240 pp., $14.00)