Review: Forbidden Stranger – Megan Hart

Review: Forbidden Stranger – Megan HartForbidden Stranger
by Megan Hart
Series: The Protector #3
Also in this series: Dangerous Promise, Wicked Attraction
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Genres: Romance
Pages: 300
Source: NetGalley

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

A female bodyguard with enhanced abilities. A billionaire playboy committed to destroying people like her. A romance they didn’t expect…

Nina Bronson and Ewan Donahue have put their love to its limits. To Ewan, she’s the only woman he wants to be with for the rest of his life. To Nina, whose memories have been ripped out of her, Ewan is her kind and generous boss who’s helping her recover after an accident she also can’t remember. The more time they spend together, the more she begins to feel for him, but Ewan knows the truth — she loved him once. As Ewan tries to do whatever it takes to get Nina back to herself without putting her in danger, the two of them have to build a brand new relationship from the ground up. Sometimes, a lie isn’t a betrayal, it’s a lifesaver. Can Nina forgive Ewan for not telling her the truth about why she lost so much of her memories, or are they doomed to never be together again?

Dive into the third book in this fantastic new series set in the near future from New York Times bestselling author Megan Hart!

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This is the third and last book in the Protector series, and boy, is it a wild ride.  This can’t be read as a standalone, and, fair warning, this review will contain spoilers for the first two books in the series.

“It’s easy to blame someone else for the mistakes you chose to make, but it’s a lot harder to accept responsibility for them”

When we last left off with Nina and Ewan, Nina had been rescued from bad guys, but had been reset so many times that her memory was pretty much gone, including any memories of Ewan.  Even worse, they’ve discovered that part of the upgrade involuntarily installed in Nina by Ewan’s former partner includes self-termination programming.  If she comes upon the wrong set of memories or triggers, she’ll attempt to kill herself, and since she’s a super soldier, there’s not much that could stop her from going through with it.  Ewan’s already activated the programming once by trying to tell her who she was after they first rescued her, and she threw herself off a cliff.  To stop the command, they had to reset her – erase her memories – multiple times, and Ewan fears that any trace of the woman he loved is gone.

“Her sunny grin. It was the same and yet so different, the way Nina herself had changed, overall. Gone was the snark, along with her determination, focus, and stubbornness. She hadn’t become anything close to meek or mild, but she never argued with him the way she had before. She was polite, gently humorous, soft-spoken. Appreciative of the roof over her head and the care and keeping of her that she believed he provided because she’d been a valued employee and not because she was the woman he loved so desperately.”

So, we start out the book with a very different Nina than the kick-ass super soldier I’ve come to know and love.  She’s weak, still recovering from her near-death fall, and unaware of her enhancements.  Her memory is still fractured – some days she can barely remember what she ate for breakfast, let alone anything before her “accident.”  Because, that’s right!  Ewan’s had to lie to her again, only telling her that she was badly injured while she was employed by him.  This time, at least, I had to throw up my hands and agree that, yes, Ewan’s lies are finally justified (I cannot believe I’m admitting that).  Telling her too much at once could literally lead to her death, so yeah, Ewan’s doing the best he can by her.  He’s set her up on a tiny island with two caretakers, trying to keep her safe from anyone who might still be after her (though that’s unlikely) and avoid triggering any memories inadvertently.  Though the doctors seem to think that she may recover some of her memories with time, Ewan’s resigned to the fact that, even if she does, she may not want to stay with him.  Even so, he’s made plans to turn over the running of his corporation to his second in command so that he can retire to the island with Nina, so he can be close to the woman he still loves.

“Ewan Donahue, the man who’d saved her life.
She did remember that. Not the details of it, although Aggie had told Nina the story, probably over and over, because Nina’s memory was so broken she was sure she’d asked to hear it more than once. But feeling safe and protected and . . . well, rescued. She could recall that with no problem. It was how she felt every time Ewan was around her.
Safe. Protected. Rescued.”

Nina is alternately confused and frustrated.  She knows there’s things she’s not being told, and she knows the work she’s been given to do is just useless busywork.  Most unsettling of all, however, is how she feels around her boss, Ewan.  Mixed in with Nina’s struggle to regain her memories is Ewan’s quest to, basically, write a patch to remove the self-termination trigger. However, Katrinka Dev, mother to Jordie Dev, the villain from the last book, is also trying to fix the same issue, since the update has basically fried her son’s brain.  As Nina’s memories slowly come back, can Nina and Ewan’s relationship survive the confrontation that is sure to come?  And, oh, that confrontation was something I’d been expecting since the very first book, and I was extremely pleased with how it turned out.  If I’d still had any doubts about Ewan, I think that really put them to rest.

“Sometimes, a lie wasn’t a betrayal, it was a lifesaver.”

My biggest con was that I felt the resolution at the end was too quick and too pat.  There’s a lot of time spent initially on the island with Nina struggling to get her memories back, and then very little on what happens after the big confrontation.  I mean, they’ve basically been waffling back and forth over the same trust issues for the entire three books without resolution, and at points it felt like the rest of the plot was just window dressing to test whatever fragile trust they’d build up between them.  It felt weird to just have it wrap up so quickly.  And, yes, there are some weird gaping plot holes, but I enjoyed Nina and Ewan’s relationship too much to get too worked up about it.  Also, I’d really like to see a book with Al, Nina’s enhanced friend!

“’You were strong,’ Ewan said, surprising her. ‘You’re still strong. You were funny, with a sharp wit. You still have that, too. You were loyal and brave and committed. You’ve lost the memories of you, Nina, but I promise, you haven’t lost you.’”

Overall, I enjoyed this series.  I’m a big fan of scifi romance, and this definitely hit a lot of my buttons, even though I was initially worried about Ewan’s continued insistence of lying to Nina.  So, one more time – if you’re interested in a scifi bodyguard romance with a kickass alpha heroine, this is definitely the series for you!

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