I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Ranger Security by Rhonda Russell
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Published by Firefly Press on September 9, 2019
Source: my own shelves
Buy on Amazon
An omnibus of the first six stories in Ranger Security, a cozy romantic suspense series, revolving around former Rangers who all work for the company. Each new employee has a reason for leaving the Rangers, and each is anxious to do well on his first assignment. It’s definitely a plum job for these guys. The perks are amazing!
Be warned, it’s insta-love in each story, but it’s okay. It doesn’t irritate like other stories with characters who fall instantly in love. I guess that’s part of what makes these stories so cozy. I also like that each set of couples “get” each other, unlike most others in their lives.
It’s interesting that most of the parents had been nightmares.
On the negative side, this omnibus could use a bit of formatting work, as there are sentences that break at the wrong moments. Another go with a proofreader would clean up the missed errors, including the punctuation (commas and plural-possessives), and those naval, chord, sent, etc. word confusions. I do wish someone would have at look at Up in Flames which needs some kerning on its “r-n” pairs. Oy.
Under His Skin, 1
Over the Top, 2
Up in Flames, 3
Going Down Hard, 4
Crossing the Line, 5
In Too Deep, 6
Under His Skin
This story cracked me up with life in a senior retirement community. Woo-hoo…! Get your parents into this place, lol! Oh, and it’s told in third person dual point-of-view from Jeb’s and Sophie’s perspectives.
Sophie has had a horrible start to her life, and thank god for her grandmother! It does make me wish I had had her life…the part after she’s six years old. The people who love her are amazing and help make this the coziest of the stories. It’s this cozy approach that doesn’t make me too confident of Jeb’s and his coworkers’ threats against her parents. It was too easy.
That take Jeb had on Sophie made for a nice twist, considering his suspicions. Another impressive bit is Marjorie’s desk. For all the activity taking place beneath it, it must be HUGE.
Jeb “Shades” Anderson is the “Heaven” of the fraternal twins who shares a heightened sense of intuition with his twin. We’ll meet his other half in Over the Top. Jeb will be posing as Foy Wilcox‘s grandson. Foy is quite the player…and then you find out why. Your heart will break. Annie is Foy’s deceased and much-loved wife. Beau is the son. Mary is Foy’s lady friend. Ooh la la!
Sophie O’Brien inherited grandmother’s Wisteria Grove Farms and now raises goats, making handmade soaps and lotions. She still gives massages at Twilight Acres. Dozie O’Brien had taken her granddaughter in and raised her. Luke is an ex-boyfriend whom Rufus (Sophie’s billy goat) and Jose (her parakeet) didn’t like. Boo is her kitty. Anthony is a raccoon. Heathcliffe is a peacock. Jenny is a not-too-bright goat. Sophie’s father had been a bad seed who met her mother (she had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder) at a reform school. Their son, Sophie’s brother, is even worse.
Twilight Acres is a glorified nursing home…and their residents have a grand time! Marjorie “The Whippet” Whitehall is the managing director, who is also known as the Drill Sergeant. She wishes Foy would stop selling his Viagra pills. Rose Marie Wilton had lost a piece of jewelry. Lila Stokes had been a concert pianist whose daughter, Monica, is more interested in her inheritance. Arnold Hammerfield collects coins. Pearl McIntosh and Nanette Hearst also lost jewelry. The walker-using Hortensia “Teensy” Forsythe does a mean table dance. Clayton Plank is Sophie’s loudest client. Cora Henderson had been Sophie’s grandmother’s best friend and neighbor. Carl. Fred Holcolm is a slow talker. Martha and Joy love decorating. Evelyn Hunter is an, um, innovative baker. Jeanie Wilson suffers from vertigo. Martin Howard.
Ethel is a waitress with coulrophobia at the Four Square Diner. Betty does alterations. Curtis. Hank mans the barber shop and hosts ghost tours on the side.
Charlie Martin is the resident hacker for Ranger Security as well as a new mother, which makes no sense since she’s not even hired until after Up in Flames, 3. Jay Weatherford is another former Ranger who isn’t hired until Up in Flames. Mariette Martin is Charlie’s sister-in-law who owns a bakery, Raw Sugar.
Olga Montrose is an RN.
Over the Top
I do love Noelle’s take on life, helping people. It certainly makes sense that she’d step up as a witness to a violent crime! What I don’t get is her selfish, hypocritical parents. Jeez. How Noelle turned out as she did is a real mystery.
“Money, on its own, could do nothing. It’s how that money was spent that revealed its true power.”
I like that Noelle measures her life by doing the next right thing and helping where help is needed.
This story uses third person dual point-of-view from Judd’s and Noelle’s points-of-view.
A military sniper, Captain Judd “Angel of Death” Anderson?? Willingham?? is the “Hell” of the fraternal twins. Their family is old money via Anderson Enterprises and ruled by their mean grandmother, Twila Anderson. Lewis Masterson had been Judd’s spotter. Heather had been a very bad mistake when he was at West Point. Other girlfriends had included Cherry; Jeb’s black-aura-seeing Sasha didn’t impress their grandmother.
A motivational kind of woman, Noelle Montgomery is independently wealthy with a memory for numbers and devotes her life to good deeds. She’s another girl who was essentially raised by her grandparents; Grandpa had been a barber. Lilo and Stitch are Noelle’s new kittens. Ed Johnson, one of Noelle’s oldest and dearest friends from the local Red Cross agency, hired Ranger Security. Ed’s daughter married Curtis. Noelle’s mother had been the editor of the local paper.
Officer ZZ Top, a.k.a., Les, Roy, and Clark are the police officers who have been guarding her. Jeffrey Stark is the D.A. Rupert Nichols had been Noelle’s Little League soccer coach who owned the Main Street Diner. The Ark is Mossy Ridge’s primary help center. Chad has an ulterior motive for his suggestion to Marissa. Bud and Lucinda own the chalet.
Travis “Tubby” Winchester is a mob boss who insists on his favorite brand of ketchup. Patrick is a particularly nasty piece of work. Curtis Hanson is a banker who made some bad decisions. He and his wife, Carla, have eight- and ten-year-old daughters, Caro and Breanne. Lisa is Curtis’ concerned secretary.
Up in Flames
This tale uses third person global subjective point-of-view and has a cute twist with a competition between a well-qualified woman and Ranger Security’s preferred male. Their rivalry is somewhat high school-ish, but it does get better.
It’s a typical story of the children of wealthy parents who waste their lives and their money. It certainly highlights Jay’s actions against Andrew, oops, sorry, On-drew, oy. That, and how much Jay appreciates Charlie’s strengths, ensured my enjoyment.
On another level, there’s a secondary romance that sweetens the deal.
With her degree in Criminal Justice, Charlene “Charlie” Martin had been a good police detective with a real talent for computer hacking, but she wants something more, something that doesn’t involve the boys’ club. She also teaches a self-defense class to battered women. She’ll be hired by Falcon Security. David Charles Martin is her grandfather, a retired cop, who is fine with her decision to leave the force. Jackson Oak Martin, Jr, is her older brother, a Ranger. Jack Martin, Sr, is Charlie’s disapproving father.
Major Jay “The Phoenix” Weatherford suffers survivor’s guilt. Carson is his much younger brother. Jay’s fellow soldiers who suffered include Corby “Big Hoss” McDonald and Matty Upchurch.
Betterworth Chocolate is…
…a premier candy company, the bulk of which had been owned by Marigold Betterworth. Truffles is the Yorkie who inherited Marigold’s estate. Mrs Aggie Tippins, formerly the head housekeeper, is now Truffles’ caretaker who got the house and a great salary. Curtis is her deceased husband. Smokey Burkhart is the jack-of-all-trades, who used to be in forestry and conservation. Jasmine is the current cook. Burt is the gatekeeper fascinated by aliens. Susan had been Goldie’s personal secretary, Horace her gardener, and Beatrice, her cook.
Peter had been Goldie’s somewhat dim, but loving brother. Andrew is his bullying idiot of a son. Josie Miller is Andrew’s abused girlfriend. Taffy is Andrew’s sister; Rosalind is Taffy’s housekeeper.
The Whitmoors are neighbors with a goldfish pond.
Going Down Hard
Yep, Russell continues to keep each story different. Oh, sure, it’s still a case of boy-meets-girl and they fall in love, but how many involve gigantic penises? And yet, it’s only from two perspectives using third person dual point-of-view from Will’s and Mia’s perspectives.
The twist of Mia’s grandmother’s ring was a nice touch. He may not be what she wanted, but Harlan is a good man. At least he makes a choice from a good basis as opposed to Will’s running in fear.
Will “Renegade” Forrester, a third-generation Ranger who had played football in college, left the military after the attack on the school. His father, a major, is intent on Will being in the Rangers and not this washed-up disgrace. His mom is finally ticked off enough to leave and head for Aunt Margaret‘s. John Forrester is Will’s grandfather, and it’s his opinion that truly matters. Eli is Will’s eighteen-month-old nephew, a much-wanted child of his sister, Roxanne, and her husband, Mark. Jay Weatherford is a friend as are Ruthie and Marge, a gay couple.
Mia Hawthorne was the one Will let get away in college, his lit tutor. Now she’s in charge of the exhibit, Fertility Through the Ages, being sponsored by the Southern Center of Antiquities in Savannah, that includes Maulu Hautu, a.k.a., Dick, Moe, a very potent fertility statue. Sophie is Mia’s assistant. Mia’s mother, Jane, had been perpetually late…even to her own funeral. Jane is also one of the very few parents who loved. Mia’s father, Charlie Hawthorne, is a waste of space.
Professor Harlan Carmichael is an honorable and intelligent man.
Ed Thompson is head of security for the exhibit. Freddie Ackerman is a reporter who has dogged the exhibit’s every move. Alma Threadgill is Ackerman’s assistant.
The unscrupulous Rodrigo Ramirez is a private collector who contends the statue belonged to his great-grandfather, Ernesto Ramirez, an archeologist. Marie Upton visited the prison.
Crossing the Line
It’s Begonia, Georgia, where Tanner is expected to retrieve a treasure-obsessed old man. Only he has to contend with the stubborn Rhiannon for whom Theo is that supportive “grandparent”. It is fun to hear the story from two different perspectives in this tale told from third person dual point-of-view.
I gotta laugh at how very sweetly stubborn Rhia is, although it’s sad how her parents’ volatile relationship has affected her own perspective. How much worse it must have been for an empath…
It’s another story of well-applied money as I read the list of causes Theo supports.
Tanner Crawford never expected to leave the Rangers. He’d been raised by his paternal grandparents, John and Miss Molly Crawford, in Mockingbird, Mississippi. His little brother, David, and their parents were killed in a car crash when Tanner was ten.
Rhiannon Palmer, a local elementary guidance counselor who specializes in emotional intelligence, is a good friend of Theo’s and is Tad’s ex-girlfriend. Keno is her Australian shepherd. Elizabeth Alston, a gymnastics instructor, is her best friend. Mark appears to be Liz’s ex.
Seventy-six-year-old Theodore Watson, a librarian obsessed with a family legend about buried treasure, has his own empathy gift. Sarah had been Theo’s wife. Tad is Theo’s greedy, nasty son. The family estate, Watson Plantation, is but one of the contentious issues between father and son. Mortimer Watson was Theo’s great-great-grandfather who had been married twice. The first was Amelia Watson and their young son, Winston. The second wife, Sophia, was quite jealous. Miss Mimi is Theo’s aunt.
Wilhelmina Malone owns Willie’s Diner, which is a favorite and where Wanda is a waitress. Mrs Parker is a customer there. Martha is their mail carrier. Mrs Marcus is the librarian somewhere in Roanoke.
In Too Deep
Oh, man, talk about a set-up in this story using third person dual point-of-view. Poor Seth has to pretend to be the wedding planner’s boyfriend while investigating and bodyguarding the about-to-wed couple. Well, you know where this is going.
It does make sense, for there is one MAJOR reason why Seth will be perfect for going undercover as the boyfriend. And any woman out there will agree with it, lol. From Penelope’s perspective, he’s perfect because he is not easily directed.
It’s all down to the “red-letter terrorist” who’s threatening the happy couple. Trent and Nella do deserve their happy day. They’re both so down-to-earth and real. You’ll love ’em.
It is sad that Katie is having to deal with this upset in her life, and she’s damned lucky that Seth is her brother.
Oooh, Penelope has a nasty revelation about her status as a serial dater. Now she’s thinking about a “No Fishing” sign, lol. All I can say is, thank god for Monica!
Seth “Wild Card” McCutcheon is the only Ranger who doesn’t want to leave the service. And it seems that he’s been stealing kisses since kindergarten. Katie is his sister who inherited the house. Rat Bastard, a.k.a., Michael, is her jerk of a husband. Mitchell is their son. Seth and Katie’s mother had been a high school English teacher who loved her kids and loved to sail. Their father had run out on them. Fellow soldiers and friends include Finn O’Conner who just got engaged and Greet West. Will Forrester, Tanner Crawford, and Lucas Finn are fellow employees (and ex-Rangers) who will help coordinate security. Someone named Huck is also part of the team.
A successful wedding planner who never intends to marry but does like to cook, Penelope Hart owns Weddings by Hart in Atlanta. Byron is her dog. Monica is her good friend and assistant. Paul is her official heavy lifter.
Her parents’ nine weddings/divorces have heavily influenced her attitude. Although it has given her tons of nieces, nephews, and half siblings. Mom’s fourth husband is Geoff, a mountain man. Dad has just divorced wife number five. Phoebe is her only true sibling.
Trent McWilliams is the quarterback for the Orlando Mustangs and Southeastern Conference royalty. Nella Francis is the bride and a sorority sister with Penelope. His mother isn’t keen on Nella; her mother is keen on Trent. Lucy is Trent’s sister with a deep, dark secret. She’s one of the bridesmaids along with Patrice Anderson, a former sorority sister and the maid of honor. Tick is one of Trent’s friend and supposed to be a groomsman.
Elise Martine is a dressmaker. Terrence is a friend of Juan-Carlos’. Nick Saban is the coach for the Tide.
Core Series Characters
Ranger Security is…
…based in Atlanta and started up by the Triumvirate, who all quit the service due to a trauma that saw Danny Levinson, a friend, killed. Jamie Flanagan has a genius IQ with more brawn than the traditional soldier. He’s married to Garrett’s granddaughter, Audrey…and if that ain’t brave… Brian “The Specialist” Payne was known for his attention to detail, confidence, and observation skills. He’s married to Emma. Actually, I’m pretty confused about which woman is married to who. Russell can be vague and the spouse seems to change from story to story. Guy McCann is renowned for his ability to skate the fine line between sheer genius and stupidity and always come out on top. Julia seems to be McCann’s girlfriend. Juan-Carlos, a.k.a., Juan Carlos, is their very efficient, gay office manager.
Colonel Carl Garrett is quite methodical about sending Rangers who quit to Ranger Security. I think Lex Sanborn, a former soldier and a friend of Jeb’s works for Ranger Security.
The Cover and Title
The cover starts with a royal blue background on the left with a deep purple to red-violet and royal blue on the right. It’s a half-dressed Ranger who fills that background, and if that nicely muscled chest is representative, I can see why the ladies are falling *grin*. Unfortunately, we only see from his top lip down to his black jeans. On the upper right is the Ranger Security logo and the series information. In a soft peach on his right shoulder is the, ahem, mission statement for the series: “Soldiers do it better”. The title is a blend of sans serif (in white) and an oversized “S” in a white outlined yellow. Below that is the information that this is a six-book omnibus followed by an info blurb with both in white. The author’s name is in white at the bottom.
The title is all encompassing, as it is the employees of Ranger Security.