Publisher: Dragonfly Press
Date of publication: January 15th, 2021
Series: Blackhawk Security
Once Burned—Book 2
Format read in: eBook
Got book from: Author via BookFunnel
Trigger Warning: Violence, Stalking, Child Abuse
After a number of threatening incidents, Chef Julia Stewart seeks help from Blackhawk Security. They recommend bodyguard Nico Elliott. The Seattle chef is reluctant, but finally agrees. To stay close, Nico poses as a busser in her restaurant.
As the dangerous incidents escalate, Nico and Julia grow closer. Nico keeps Julia safe, but they need to figure out who’s trying to kill her. And why.
Amid rising threats, their attraction flares out of control. With everything at stake, Julia faces her tormenter. Will he kill her? Or will the truth destroy her first?
As Julia bumped down the cratered driveway beside her house, she pressed the transponder and waited for her garage door to heave itself upward. One of these days, she’d replace it, but her struggling restaurant sucked up all her available cash. Madeline’s had to come first.Once Burned by Margaret Watson
Julia is the owner/chef of Madeline’s, an up and coming restaurant in Seattle, Washington. But, over the last couple of months, Madeline’s has been hemorrhaging money, and Julia has no clue why. One night, Julia comes home and finds that her house has been broken into. Deeply shaken, Julia calls her best friend, who runs a cybersecurity company. Taking her laptop the next day, Julia and Zoe find out that there is a sophisticated keylogger installed on her computer. That is when Zoe refers Julia to her sister’s security company. After reviewing Julia’s case, Mel talks Julia into hiring her company to protect her until they find out who was after her and why.
That is where Nico comes in. An ex-Delta Force soldier, he is assigned to be Julia’s bodyguard. He becomes a busser at her restaurant to be close to Julia and not to break his cover. After several interesting encounters with staff, Nico is convinced that everything (Madeline’s money issues/Julia’s past/the attempts on Julia) are connected. How connected, though, it remained to be seen.
What Nico and Julia weren’t counting on was the immediate attraction between them. That threw both Nico and Julia for a loop.
Who is after Julia? Why does this person want her business destroyed?
I was eager to read Once Burned after reading Once Removed. The author had laid the groundwork for Blackhawk Security in that book, and it caught my attention. So, I dove right into reading Once Burned.
I am glad I did. This book was a fantastic read. It had everything that I liked: suspense, sexual tension, mystery, and relatable characters.
Lately, it has been taking me a couple of days to read a book. But not this one; I blew through it within a couple of hours. I could not put my Kindle down. The story utterly enthralled me.
Once Burned was a fast-paced book. There was no slow build-up; instead, the author started fast and kept the pace up for 95% of the book. I say 95% because, after the climax, the author kept going but slower. I am not complaining. Nope, I liked it. It gave me time to digest what happened and then focus on what could potentially happen. I am not complaining. Nope, I liked it. It gave me time to digest what happened and then focus on what could potentially happen.
Julia’s backstory was awful, and I could understand her survivor’s guilt over what happened. But I also liked that she refused to let her grief overwhelm her. I liked that she saw the good in everyone and gave people the benefit of the doubt. I also liked that once she realized that someone was screwing her over, she could do what needed to be done. It gave her depth and made her relatable.
There were some things that I didn’t like about Julia. I felt that she acted like a child at specific points in the book. I also thought that she was too trusting of her staff at the restaurant. And she was too lenient. Not going to give anything away, but I would have thrown the book at those people.
I loved Nico and felt he was perfect for Julia. He was protective by nature (hello, ex-Delta Force!!), but with Julia, that ramped up. He was honest with himself with how he felt about Julia but was disciplined enough not to act on it right away. He was, in my eyes, the epitome of a perfect guy.
The mystery angle of Once Burned was well written and kept me on my toes. I did figure out who was tormenting Julia, but the why was kept under wrap until the end of the book. I was saddened and surprised when that scene went down.<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">The sexual tension between <strong>Nico</strong> and <strong>Julia</strong> was terrific. It was immediate, and the suspense kept going up throughout the book. I loved it!! That sexual tension exploded into one of the more memorable sex scenes. And then the author did something that very few authors' I have read do. She brought the sexual tension back up.The sexual tension between Nico and Julia was terrific. It was immediate, and the suspense kept going up throughout the book. I loved it!! That sexual tension exploded into one of the more memorable sex scenes. And then the author did something that very few authors’ I have read do. She brought the sexual tension back up.
The end of Once Burned was bittersweet. As I mentioned above, I had figured out who was tormenting Julia, but I was crushed for her when I found out why. Instead of ending the book after that, the author continued it for a few more chapters. I will say I was not ready for what happened between Nico and Julia. It made my heart drop, and I got weepy. I got even weepier when the book ended.
Once Burned was a fantastic mystery romance. It was fast paced with just the right amount of heat in it. I cannot wait to read book 3. The preview given at the end of the book has caught my attention!!
I am going to recommend that no one under the age of 21 read Once Burned. There is talk of child abuse by an older sibling. There is stalking. At the end of the book, Julia is almost killed by her stalker. There is mild foul language. There is sex. There are three sex scenes, mildly graphic.