Joint Engagement (To Protect and Serve) - Karen Anders

Series: To Protect and Serve (Book 3)

A mystery boat drifts in the fog...with all of its passengers dead. Two investigators are called to uncover a shocking conspiracy...


CGIS investigator Kinley Cooper finds the vessel and makes a grisly discovery. This is a chance to get her career back on track. So it galls her that lethally handsome NCIS agent Beau Jerrott is made lead on the case. The earth-shaking attraction between them doesn't make things easier.


The last time Kinley got involved with a partner, it cost her dearly. And yet, despite his reputation with women, Beau's Cajun charm...and unexpected compassion...melt her resistance. Tracing a lead to the Bahamas, the pair find themselves under fire. But fighting terrorists and a drug cartel is easy compared to fighting their undeniable feelings.


Fantastic book. The suspense and danger keep building from the moment Kinley discovers the boat and its dead crew. The complexity of the investigation will give her a chance to repair her professional reputation. She isn't at all happy when experienced NCIS investigator Beau Jerrott is brought in on the case and made the lead investigator. It doesn't help her peace of mind that there is an incredible attraction between them.


Kinley stumbles on this case when she is out running one foggy morning. It is the anniversary of her father's murder by terrorists and the conditions now are just like they were on that terrible day. She suppresses those feelings as she begins her investigation. Beau had been in the area because of another matter when he is tasked to help with the investigation. It's obvious to him that Kinley isn't happy with his involvement and he's determined to win her over. 


The attraction between Kinley and Beau is instant and hot. Beau is a smooth-talking, incredibly good looking Cajun who has never had a problem with the ladies. However, he also avoids involvement like the plague. He had given his heart once and had it stomped on, so he limits himself to women who know the score. He can tell that Kinley is not that type, but there's something about her that gets past his defenses. Kinley made the mistake once of getting involved with a coworker. When a case they were working on went bad, she got the blame and he walked away. As a result, she second guesses her instincts both at work and with men in order to protect herself. The beginning of the investigation is difficult as Kinley has to overcome her anger, suppress her attraction, and try to trust Beau.


It was fun to see how Beau's usual charm and flirtatiousness don't really work on Kinley, and how it confuses him. I loved his compassion and gentleness with her that first night when she had her nightmare, though he really tried to keep an emotional distance. I really liked the way that he appreciated her abilities and though he admitted having to resist letting his "inner caveman" try to protect her, he didn't keep her from doing her job.


Kinley had been devastated by what happened with Daniel and it has caused her to be much less trusting with others. It affects her working relationship with Beau at the beginning, but his willingness to trust her hunches goes a long way toward easing the strain. She has to spend some time standing up to his caveman tendencies, but she does it successfully. His comfort during and after her nightmare touches something inside her that has been numb since her father's death. She knows that there's no way anything permanent will happen between them, but the heat between them is getting irresistible.


The romance that builds between them is one that neither really wants to admit. Both are trying to protect their hearts because of their previous relationships. As the feelings build in each one, neither can bring themselves to say anything because of their fears, and let it part them. I loved the way that each of them learned about themselves during that time, and were then able to look toward their future. I loved Beau's "go big" moment and what it was he did for Kinley.


The suspense and danger of the case just kept building the more they found out about it. The clues lead them from Virginia to the Bahamas to Cuba. There are multiple times where only quick thinking by one or both keeps them alive, and they have to depend on each other's skills to get them out of trouble. There's an interesting twist that ties the investigation to Kinley's past. The intensity of the last confrontation was incredible and I could not wait to see how it ended up.