Safe and Sound by Rachel Bowdler
She was beginning to suspect that Shea was just the sort of woman you had to keep trying with if you wanted to really know her. A matryoshka doll with infinite figures hiding within, all different sizes and faces.
Safe & Sound is a suspenseful romance novella that follows Ruby Bright, a singer-songwriter for Gen Y, a popular singing duo who are struck by profound tragedy. When her singing partner and best friend Ezra is killed in an explosion on their tour bus, she finds herself being targeted by an unknown suspect and forced to disappear for a while until they find out who’s after her. Ruby is sent to a farm for her own protection and it’s there she meets Shea, a brooding, grumpy, acerbic former officer healing from her own trauma.
Where Ruby is nervous and broken by everything that’s happened to her, Shea’s gone the other way and become downright caustic and biting. She’s anything but kind to Ruby at the start, projecting her own stereotypes of privilege onto Ruby that, while understandable in light of Ruby’s successes, are anything but true. Ruby’s life and history are dark and full of turmoil and she honestly doesn’t remotely fit a stereotype. (I felt very protective of Ruby at the start, poor thing!!) For her part, Ruby tries to get along with everyone as she struggles to deal with her grief and the awful treatment of her band’s management group.
I really liked the farm setting and the novella’s themes and focus on healing and growth. Ruby and Shea are both jagged edges who slowly soften each other up as time passes on the farm and they work together gardening and looking after the animals. I do wish Shea had been a bit kinder to Ruby at the onset, but she grew on me once she started to let go of her preconceptions and realised that she was projecting a lot of unfair untruths onto Ruby. Bless Ruby, my heart just went out to her throughout the whole book and I’m really glad she finally had someone on her side in Shea once they passed those initial hurdles! And they made a very dynamic, capable, wholesome couple by the end! (Fans of bodyguard romances will surely enjoy the climax of the novella!)
Overall this is an emotionally grounded and fast-paced romantic suspense novella that romance readers should definitely check out!