Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Above and Beyond by Kathryn Shay - #review

A family of heroes, all in dangerous jobs, all irrevocably tied to those they love. Read about the Marino clan in this fast-paced, emotional new series, To Serve and Protect, by NYT bestselling author Kathryn Shay.

Nick Marino is the top guy on POTUS’s Secret Service detail. But he’s temporarily sent to upstate New York to guard the president’s sister, Isabelle Barton, who is being threatened in anonymous notes. There, Nick becomes involved with the widowed mom and twin boys, who quickly win over what he thought was his hardened heart. Amidst the heightened anxiety of tracking down the threats, the constant vigilance and an ever-growing sexual attraction between Isabelle and Nick, these two people must uncover not only the plot against her, but determine what to do about their impossible romance.

ABOVE AND BEYOND provides a deep dive into the life of a Secret Service agent and a close look at being related to the most powerful man in the world, along with the glamor of Washington, D.C. politics. The story will keep you interested and capture your heart.



Mama Marino must have felt like Mrs. Ryan (of Saving Private Ryan fame) sending all of her adult children off to serve their country in one way or another.  Nerve-wracking to be sure, but then Mrs. Marino did not suffer to the degree that Mrs. Ryan did.

Imagine being the lead agent in the President's Personal Detail of Secret Service Agents.  Got that one?  Feels pretty good, eh?  Now, imagine being asked to guard the President's sister and her kids.  There must have been an aggravating sense of let-down, to be given such a...mundane assignment.  Nick Marino technically could have said no, but then it was the POTUS who was asking.

One day, while being pressed for information from a friend of hers, the President's sister (Isabelle), blurts out that Nick is her new 'ah-give-him-a-try' boyfriend.  Then they have to make a good show.  We can tell where this will lead.  But Isabelle certainly didn't expect to have to wake Nick in a panic one night because of the strange man at the kitchen window, and to have Nick bound out of bed with his gun, but without a stitch of clothing on.  Yeah, everyone knows things are going to happen after that! ;)

So Nick and Isabelle spend most of the book trying to ignore their feelings for each other.  They fail.  There are multiple close calls for 'fireworks'.  There is even one complete 'encounter' that is descriptive without being offense.  Nick even takes her home to meet the folks, but that's more because increasing dangerous things have been happening to Isabelle; Nick has to find a place for 'Belle' to be kept safe and no one, with the exception of his brothers and their female cousin (who is undercover as the boys' nanny, well, and the President, of course, know where they are).

Above and Beyond is the first of five books in the "To Serve and Protect" series.  Some of the younger Marinos (and their cousin, surnamed Dwyer)  (Gabe and Connor, notably) have some individual histories that I'd like to know more about; but I imagine that is taken care of in 'their' books later in the series.

Isabelle doesn't like Nick ordering her around at first, so there is some antagonism at first.  But that ends when the SUV in which they are driving gets run off the road...with the twins inside as well.  Everyone is on highest alert after that.  I can definitely understand Isabelle's reaction, though.  We Mama Bears stick together.

I loved the interactions of both the older and younger members of the  Marino family.  Mama and Pa definitely care for and worry about their sons and niece (who was raised by them).   They work together quite well.  There are some misunderstandings amongst the younger generation that will need to be fully hashed out at some point, but they have each others' backs.

And I especially liked Isabelle's twin sons, Jamie and Ryan, and the fact that Ms. Shay emphasized the differences in their personalities.  Most people comment on all the ways twins are alike; it's great to have a different viewpoint.

Above and Beyond will be enjoyed by fans of the romance and suspense genres, as well as the combined 'romantic suspense' genre.



Kathryn Shay is a lifelong writer. At fifteen, she penned her first “romance,” a short story about a female newspaper reporter in New York City and her fight to make a name for herself in a world of male journalists–and with one hardheaded editor, in particular. Looking back, Kathryn says she should have known then that writing was in her future. But as so often happens, fate sent her detouring down another path.

Fully intending to pursue her dream of big city lights and success in the literary world, Kathryn took every creative writing class available at the small private women’s college she attended in upstate New York. Instead, other dreams took precedence. She met and subsequently married a wonderful guy who’d attended a neighboring school, then completed her practice teaching, a requirement for the education degree she never intended to use. But says Kathryn, “I fell in love with teaching the first day I was up in front of a class, and knew I was meant to do that.”

Kathryn went on to build a successful career in the New York state school system, thoroughly enjoying her work with adolescents. But by the early 1990s, she’d again made room in her life for writing. It was then that she submitted her first manuscript to publishers and agents. Despite enduring two years of rejections, she persevered. And on a snowy December afternoon in 1994, Kathryn Shay sold a book to the Harlequin Superromance line. Since that first sale, Kathryn has written dozens of self-published original romance titles, print books with the Berkley Publishing Group and Harlequin Enterprises and mainstream women’s fiction with Bold Strokes Books. Kathryn has become known for her powerful characterizations–readers say they feel they know the people in her books–and her heart-wrenching, emotional writing. (Her favorite comments are that fans cried while reading her books or stayed up late to finish them.)

In testament to her skill, she has won five RT Book Reviews awards, four Golden Quills, four Holt Medallions, the Bookseller’s Best Award, Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year and several “Starred Reviews.” Her novels have been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in USA TODAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine. Her books have been on the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, Amazon, Apple and Barnes and Noble bestseller lists. There are over five million copies of her books in print, along with hundreds of thousands downloaded online.

Even in light of her writing success, that initial love of teaching never wavered for Kathryn. She finished out her teaching career in 2004, retiring from the same school where she began. These days, she lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children. “My life is very full,” she reports, “but very happy. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to pursue and achieve my dreams.”



Nick has ambitions for the Secret Service Agency Director job one day.  Getting involved with a protectee would nix that in a hurry.  What do you think of inter-office type romances?


This book helps me fulfill the following 2018 reading challenges:

52 Books in 52 Weeks - v2.0 (book you can read in a day)
Pop Sugar RC (a book with twins as characters)
Mount TBR RC (26 October, 2017)
Cloak and Dagger RC
COYER Winter Switch
Reading Assignment RC
Literary Escapes Challenge (NY)
Alphabet Soup RC ("A")

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