Once a Killer (Blackhawk Security: Book 7) by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of Publication: December 13th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery

Series: Blackhawk Security

With One Breath—Book 1 (review here)

Once Removed—Book 2 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 3 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 4 (review here)

Just This Once—Book 5 (review here)

Once and Always—Book 6 (review here)

Once a Killer—Book 7

Trigger Warnings: stalking, PTSD, gun violence, general violence, mentions of severe depression (in a side character)

Purchase Links: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bree Gordon looks nothing like a bodyguard. But the short, slender woman knows how to keep her principal safe. And one of her most potent weapons is her appearance. People see her and dismiss her. Their mistake.

Jameson Ford is a technical whiz who’s working on a program that’ll be a game changer. The military wants it. So does the CIA, along with some unsavory players. Someone close to him wants it, as well – one of the engineers in his lab.

When he reluctantly hires a bodyguard, he’s shocked when Bree shows up. But it doesn’t take long for him to appreciate her abilities. Will the attraction flaring between them be their salvation? Or will it be their downfall?

First Line:

Bree sat next to Alex Conway in the Blackhawk Security dining room, swirling pieces of pancake through the puddle of maple syrup on her plate.

Once a Killer by Margaret Watson

Once a Killer is the seventh book in the Blackhawk Security series. It can be read as a standalone novel. But I suggest reading the previous six to see who the previous characters were, their relationships, and how they fit into this storyline.

Bree Gordon doesn’t look like your typical bodyguard. She is short, slender, and can blend into the background. Bree is also as tough as nails, thanks to her military experience. So, in other words, she is perfect for personal security. Her newest client is Jameson Ford. He is working on a program that could change lives, making him a target. From the CIA to an engineer at his lab, someone wants to get their hands on it. The problem is Jameson doesn’t know who, and when the attempts start getting physical, he needs a bodyguard. Bree doesn’t know that her past is directly tied to what is happening to Jameson. Can she keep Jameson, the program, and her heart safe? Or will she end up losing all three?

I wasn’t a huge fan of Bree at the beginning of the book. She came across as kind of a jerk. But, the more the author revealed about her background, the more I understood why she acted the way she did. I did like her commitment to Jameson. She was committed to keeping him safe, and when her enemies started targeting him, the fury in her was pretty awesome to read.

What is it with clueless men in romance novels? While I liked Jameson, he embodied every clueless hero I read. How could you not know who at your lab was after your program? It wasn’t like he had a vast suspect pool there. He did score some brownie points with me over how he felt about Bree. He knew she was damaged (it was pretty apparent). He didn’t push her for anything; instead, he waited for her to tell him. Usually, it is the other way around (the woman waiting for the man), so it was refreshing to read. I liked that.

The main storyline in Once a Killer was Bree bodyguarding Jameson until they figured out who was after his program. I liked seeing the role reversal here. A small, thin woman guarding a grown man did bring a smile to my face. And Bree was the real deal. That woman showed, a few times, that she wasn’t one to be trifled with. The author didn’t draw this storyline out. Instead, she added Bree’s issues from the military towards the end of it. I wasn’t a big fan of that, but it did add a much-needed oomph to the storyline.

The romance in Once a Killer was scorching hot. It was a combination of forced proximity and Instalove (neither of which I like). Even with my dislike of those tropes, it was still a great love story. I liked that Jameson had to wait for Bree to open up instead of the other way around. It wasn’t an easy romance, with Bree running scared toward the end. But it did end up with a HEA.

The sex scenes were amazing. I would have been disappointed if the sex had fallen short. But it didn’t, and I loved it!! I do think that amazing sex scenes go hand in hand with these types of romances.

The mystery angle in Once a Killer was well written. I did figure out who was behind everything reasonably early in the book. That made me frustrated when Bree and Jameson couldn’t figure it out. I was yelling about who it was in my head. Of course, the culmination of this storyline ended with a huge bang and with me feeling very satisfied as a reader.

The trigger warnings in Once a Killer weren’t that bad. There was a lot of violence (gun, physical, and car). There were also some elements of stalking (mentioned and shown briefly) that Bree took care of quickly. Bree’s PTSD was mentioned, and she did explain to Jameson the events that led up to it. The severe depression in the side character was well written. My heart broke for that character, and I was slightly aggravated with Jameson for not seeing it sooner. But as soon as it was brought to his attention, Jameson got that person help. If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading the book.

The end of Once a Killer was interesting. For one, I couldn’t figure out if there would be a new book. With the introduction of Bree’s enemies, I wonder if the author will start a new series and set it in the same universe as her other books. I liked that Bree and Jameson did get their HEA. As much as I complained about Bree, I feel Jameson will be good for her and help her overcome her issues.

I would recommend Once a Killer to anyone over 21. Besides the trigger warnings, there are also language and sexual situations.

Many thanks to Margaret Watson and Dragonfly Press for allowing me to read and review Once a Killer. All opinions expressed in this review are mine.

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