The Defender by Adrienne Giordano is a 2014 Harlequin Intrigue publication.
Penny is a defense attorney that gets caught in the crossfire when one of her clients is the target of a criminal that killed her husband and is trying to keep her from testifying against him. FBI agent Russell "Russ" Voight is on the case. However, he and Penny have gone head to head in court before and are often at odds with each other. That doesn't mean they aren't attracted to each other, though. Russ' job is to protect Penny, her client and a small boy from being killed, while Penny's main concern is her client. So, once again, Russ and Penny face off, only this time it's life or death.
I really loved the snappy dialogue between Russ and Penny. Penny really has a sharp mind and a sharp tongue. The book starts off with a bang, literally and pretty much stays at a high intensity level throughout the whole book. I don't know who gave Russ the most trouble, the criminals or Penny. Penny seems one step ahead of him all the time until she gets in over her head.
I liked Penny's straight forward approach to Russ. Her timing could have been better sometimes and Russ was taken off guard a number of times. Being a defense attorney meant Penny had to protect her client and act in her best interest which meant making compromises with Russ. When the situation turned personal though, Penny lost some her edge. This was when Russ comes to the rescue in a really big way. His nickname for her was "Killer Cupcake" and it was that persona he tried to draw out in difficult situations. There were some really funny moments that offset the more serious parts so the reader has a chance to catch their breath.
The characters are well developed with distinct personalities and were easy to relate to. The pacing was credible and there were no cliffhangers or loose ends. The language is mild, the steam level is about a 2.5 and the violence was also very tame. This is a standalone novel.
I give this one a 4 star rating.
A TOUGH-AS-NAILS FBI SPECIAL AGENT AND A STUNNING BLONDE ATTORNEY WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE JOIN FORCES IN THE DEFENDER.
By all accounts Penny Hennings was the sort of woman FBI special agent Russell Voight went for. Smart, sexy and with just enough sass to keep him honest. Then she went sticking her nose in undercover FBI business. He knew her legal reputation would skyrocket if she won this case. But every move she makes undoes all the work Russell's put into taking down the city's biggest crooks. And the criminals they're after will do anything to avoid the witness stand—including kill. So it's time to pool their resources and collaborate. Even if working together every day takes them late into the night…and into the line of fire.
Stands Alone: YES