Love is the most dangerous territory of all . . .
Every day, bodyguard Owen Jackson puts his life on the line — and keeps his feelings for Penny Sandoval locked away. Assigned to protect Penny’s father, a presidential candidate, Owen can’t get emotionally involved. That is, until Penny and her young son, Cruz, are abducted and taken deep into the California badlands.
Owen knows the bleak territory from his childhood. Worse, he knows the gang leader making ransom demands — his own brother, Shane. When a terrified Penny escapes into the desert with Cruz, Owen has to save her: from the elements and from the gang in close pursuit. Owen has hidden the darkness in his past from Penny. Now his only chance of keeping her alive is to let her see the man he really is — even if it means losing the only woman he’ll ever want.
Owen met Penny during the San Diego earthquake that trapped more than a few people in an freeway underpass. Owen was an prison inmate at the time but since his release he’s been an exemplary citizen and has plans for the future to become a fireman. His current job is working as a bodyguard to Penny while her father runs for President. Unfortunately he’s unable to stop Penny, her 5 year old son Cruz, and himself from getting kidnapped and he hates himself for it. He’s determined to save them all.
Penny is scared out of her mind when the three of them are kidnapped but she’s strong and resourceful and soon escapes with Cruz (not Owen as she believes him dead). She doesn’t get far before Owen escapes as well and finds her. They travel together through the desolate and burning hot Badlands of California to try to get to civilization but unfortunately their kidnappers are tenacious and they only get so far before they’re recaptured.
During the time that Penny and Owen are together they finally admit their feelings for each other. Owen had more than friendship feelings from the first time he saw Penny. He believes himself to be a man not good enough for her as she comes from a family of wealth and standing whereas he comes from a poor home and was a convicted felon. Penny, however, sees the wonderful man Owen truly is and she finally wants him to realize that not only does she want him, and has for a while, but she loves him deeply as well.
Another great book from Jill Sorenson! I just love her writing, her characters and the diverse locations she comes up with for her stories. In this series we’ve gone from an earthquake ravaged San Diego with the story taking place in a closed off underpass of a freeway, the Sierra Nevada mountains and now the Badlands. The setting was harsh and rough and I felt like I was there with Penny, Cruz and Owen when they were experiencing the pain, agony and exhaustion of the desert.
In this story the major star, imho, is Owen. His emotional growth is pivotal to the story and so Sorenson made sure that Penny played a vital role in Owen’s growth. Penny’s thoughts on Owen’s childhood and his brother, Shane, brought a new light to Owen’s way of looking at things and it made all the difference in the world. I loved that Owen opened himself up to a new way of thinking as it showed that he wasn’t mired in his damaged past and could move on, with Penny, to a new and brighter future. Their love story was definitely not ordinary and I loved that it wasn’t. Two extraordinary characters needed an extraordinary happy ending.
Badlands is not your typical romance story but it was absolutely worth reading. This is one I’d recommend without reservation.
Rating: 4 out of 5