Dark Knight by J. L. Beck was a must read for me when I saw it was a dark bodyguard romance. I am all about the bodyguard romances and the fact that its dark romance made it even more of a need. I must say, I was not disappointed and the dark romance brought an element to this book that really brought feeling to the story as the characters are forced to deal with trauma and horror that has steadily eaten away at who they are, resulting in shells of the people they once were.
This is true if Tatum, who experienced something very dark and horrifying, and just wants a quiet respite to try to deal with her trauma and become a semblance of the person she once was. This proves to be more difficult than she feels it should be, as she deals with new fears and what she feels is weakness that leaves her spiraling and lashing out at things that once would not have fazed her at all.
Enter Romero, the man who takes her away to his childhood home, where he promises to protect her as she tries to get back on her feet. Though he is the one to suggest the place to Tatum’s father as a solution to allowing Tatum to escape from life for a bit, he begrudges being stuck alone with her, particularly as she fights to defy him every step of the way. Yet at the same time he can’t stand the shell of herself Tatum has become and does what he can to help her overcome the horror she endured, while also battling his own demons that he left behind in his hometown ten years previous.
As if past events aren’t enough, Tatum also has to deal with the threat of her ex-boyfriends father who keeps hounding her for information on his son. In part, this is what leads Tatum to disappear to an unknown location in an attempt to escape his harassment and threats. However, shortly after arriving she starts to feel unsettled, as if she’s being watched, which begs the questions of whether she has been found after all and is in danger.
All the while there is some intense tension between Romero and Tatum, which Romero fights every step of the way, not wanting to get entangled with his boss’ daughter. However, Tatum, being bullheaded and used to getting her way refuses to take no for an answer and continues to pursue the first sign of interest she has felt in anyone in longer than she cares for.
Tatum really spoke to me as a character because she’s in such a dark place and suffering so much mentally but trying to figure out how to move past that and displays such strength every day she fights her demons. She’s a fire cracker and I love that despite everything she doesn’t lose this and ALWAYS pushes back. That’s not to say there are times she probably shouldn’t, but it’s so much a part of her strength and the person she’s trying to get back to that I enjoyed the fight it displayed that she possesses. Although a bit of a spoiled brat, that’s not exactly unexpected considering the money she comes from, though she did show her entitlement every so often. It didn’t become tiresome though and was realistic for how she was raised.
Romero had my heart from the moment it was clear he is the epitome of the grumpy in grumpy vs. sunshine. He is such a grumpy old (young) man and I loved it. And obviously I am all for the bodyguard relationship so I loved that he was Tatum’s protector from everything, even at times herself, despite how frustrating she could be at times. The fact that they butt heads all of the time was honestly part of their charm together and I loved reading their interactions. Romero could be frustrating himself at times because of how much he pushes people away and refuses to open up to anyone, but this is part of his own trauma and upbringing, which he has to work on himself.
I really enjoyed this book, from the bodyguard romance, to the familial struggles between Tatum and her father which really added to the story. Seeing Tatum trying to overcome her struggles really had me rooting for her the entire time and drew me into the story emotionally. I had a hard time putting Dark Knight down and I cannot wait to read more books in this world going forward. Definitely recommend to my dark romance lovers out there!