Protection For Hire follows the story of Tessa Lancaster, former enforcer and niece to the Japanese mafia's big boss who, after going to prison for a crime she didn't commit,has come out with a new found faith and set of morals, hoping for a second chance. Like the cartoon characters with a devil and an angel on opposite shoulders, Tessa can either take the easy option and go back to the fold, accepting her uncle's job offer in the Mafia, or listen to her heart and try to find a respectable job and lifestyle.
It's a fast-paced thriller with a hint of romance and a generous dose of girl-power ! The supporting cast of characters are interesting and I'm hoping they will be further developed in the following books in the series. The opening excerpts of book 2, included at the end of the first tome, promise another soul-searching and adrenalin-fuelled novel.
Reading this back to back with Camy Tang's Sushi For One?, I couldn't help but draw a lot of parallels between them. They both have sporty, tomboyish, tough as nails on the outside but vulnerable underneath, female lead characters and both offer a fascinating glimpse into the world of Japanese and Chinese culture. While being categorised as Christian literature, both novels offer stories that, while certainly having a strong message of faith, deliver it in such a way that it will not be offputting to non-believers. Camy gives you food for thought, she doesn't ram it down your throat !
I have read a lot of Christian fiction and I can't remember one that reads like Camy Tang's Protection for Hire. It is a cross between Alias and Covert Affairs with an overlay of faith! It takes a gifted author to mix that into a winning combo and Camy has! I can really get caught up into an edgy suspenseful drama like this one. It incorporated an arsenal of human emotions which made the characters seem real and transparent; certainly relatable. Although the prologue was hardhitting, it set the tone for Tessa's transforming faith. I like that Camy didn't "perfect" her faith but allowed us to see the reasoning behind her choices and her realization that she could easily slip into old habits. (Can't we all?)
I appreciated learning about Asian culture including new words, foods and martial arts moves! Everyone has a story and it isn't until we take a closer look into the depth of the character that we can truly appreciate who they are. Life can have an ugly side and we see that in the Mafia underground. It was interesting to me to see the loyalty Tessa displayed - even unto a jail sentence for a crime she didn't commit. Don't know too many who would make that choice willingly! Her character although has a hard edge has a vulnerable side that surfaced frequently.
I could personally relate to the family dynamics between Tessa her sister and mother. There was a wonderful balance of suspense, human emotions and comic relief. I look forward to Book 2 in the series and watching Tessa grow in faith; and kick butt in the process! I would hire her for a bodyguard! PS - Camy, she needs a new car!
Tessa is half-Japanese, half-English/Scottish/Italian, aged 30 and unemployed. She is looking for a job while she volunteers at a San Francisco women's shelter, but her prison record (seven years for manslaughter) and her family (niece of a notorious Japanese crime lord, for whom she used to work as an enforcer) are making it difficult for her to find an honest job. Her uncle has offered for her to return to working for him, but she became a Christian in prison, and wants to live a life that reflects her new faith.
While working in the shelter she meets Elizabeth St. Armant and her son, Daniel. Elizabeth is a wealthy heiress whose husband is trying to kill her, so when she finds out about Tessa's unique skills, she hires Tessa as her own personal bodyguard. Her attorney (and old family friend) does not approve of this move. Charles thinks Elizabeth is over-reacting, he knows Tessa from his days as a law clerk involved in her trial and sentencing, and he has a hard time believing that she has changed. However, it soon becomes apparent that someone really is trying to harm Elizabeth, so Charles and Tessa are soon investigating to find out who and why. While Charles might know the law, it soon becomes apparent that Tessa's knowledge of the criminal underworld is invaluable.
Protection for Hire is a fast-paced and enjoyable thriller with lots of crossing and double-crossing, and although it was a little lacking in the romance department, there is a sequel in the works that will hopefully deliver more on this front. While the novel overall was serious, there were also a handful of comic moments that I enjoyed, such as when Charles does some undercover investigating, and is introduced as Charles Carmichael - the name of Chuck Bartowski's suave spy alter ego from the TV show â€˜Chuck'. Or when we find out Charles's mother is from Shreveport, the home of all those vampires in the Sookie Stackhouse novels and the TV show â€˜True Blood'.
Thanks to Zondervan and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
Protection for Hire by Camy Tang was really different from the books I am used to reading by her. It is categorized as "general, Christian, fiction" and most of what I have read by her has been "chic-lit." While it was different, Protection for Hire was just as good as her Sushi Series.
Tessa Lancaster, niece of the head of a Japanese mafia gang, is an enforcer with skills that earned her a position in the otherwise "all-guy" mafia. Her position earns her respect (or fear as the case may be), but also a prison sentence that she doesn't deserve when she takes the blame for a murder she didn't commit. While in prison, Tessa turns her life over to Christ and decides to change her ways. Three months after her release, she meets socialite Elizabeth St. Amant while volunteering at a domestic abuse shelter. Elizabeth is running from an abusive husband and hires Tessa to be her bodyguard.
Tessa has several problems to overcome: her Uncle Teruo, who doesn't understand why she can't return to the mafia, Elizabeth's husband, who is relentless in coming after her, even trying to kill her, Alicia her own sister who drives her crazy and is constantly snipping at her and Charles Britton, Elizabeth's lawyer, who is the one who made sure that Tessa served the maximum time behind bars, unbeknownst to Tessa.
Tessa and Charles have to work together to protect Elizabeth and her son and try to get her inheritance back from Elizabeth's husband in the midst of deadly circumstances and hidden truths coming to light.
There is definitely some suspense and a little darkness in this book. It's still a "good read" filled with hope, growth and a budding romance! I can't wait until the second book in the series comes out, especially after the teaser excerpt at the end of this book.(less)
Camy Tang has created a great new character for book one of her new series. Tessa is downright scary in the prologue, and though I committed to reading the book, I didn't identify with her at all. That is, until I reached the first page of Chapter One, where she led a game of
Simon Says for a group of children at a battered wives' safe house. You can bet I liked her from then-on. Tough and smart, she is also compassionate, but troubled.
Protection for Hire has a twisted plot set in the shadowy underworld of the San Francisco mafia. As I read, I felt over and over again the helplessness of the case. There was no safety. No way out. The tension with the entire situation never gave release. Just as answers showed up on the radar, new problems cancelled them out. The energy stayed amped, but avoided frustration. Ms. Tang also avoided bookmark spots; I couldn't put the story down!
While Tessa's journey provided the impetus of the story, other characters brought charm to a new level. I really liked Charles, but his mother and her friend were downright delightful and not just because they were from the South. Or maybe it was! Either way, I could totally identify with them!
Protection for Hire is full of humor and shares a powerful message of grace and trust. The story moves the reader as well as entertains. I give it 4 1/2 kisses.