ARC Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Guarding His Heart by Synithia Williams


36986590Publisher: Harlequin Kimani Romance
Release Date: July 1, 2018
Received From: Review copy from the author

Sizzling-hot basketball star Kevin Koucky plans to end his career with a bang by posing au naturel in a magazine feature. When photographer Jasmin Hook agrees to take the assignment, she never expects the risqué photo shoot to end with a sensual slam dunk. But the handsome athlete comes with children and an ex-wife—emotional baggage Jasmin can’t handle. Little does she know that Kevin always plays to win…


GENDER: cisgender
SEXUALITY: presumed heterosexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: presumed heteroromantic


TROPES: single parenthood, summer romance
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, Black characters, POC characters, Black author, POC author, diabetic character, disabled character (rheumatoid arthritis)
WARNINGS: cissexism/anti-trans phrasing, ableism, heteronormativity, slavery mention, needles, chronic pain, negative body image, racism, hate crime mention, slutshaming, misogyny, cheating mention


GUARDING HIS HEART is a fun summer romance, with great banter, that also comments on several important topics and does so very well.

This book starts off with a bang–the opening scene is one where our heroine, Jasmine, is taking nude photographs of a famous basketball player, our hero Kevin, for a sports magazine he’ll be on the cover of. From their first interaction, the banter and flirting is fun and lighthearted, with undertones of caution as their individual pasts influence how they interact. They’re clearly attracted to each other immediately, but they’re also interested in each other intellectually and get to know each other a bit before they go to bed together. I really enjoyed that they became friends while their attraction to each other simmered and genuinely cared about the other’s life.

Additionally, an aspect of the novel that I really loved was Kevin’s relationship with his 4 children and his determination to be a good father and be a big part of their lives. He actively tries to get along with the mothers of his children and tries so hard to make sure he does right by the kids and keeps them involved in his life as he is involved in theirs. It was really lovely to see how much he cared about them and how he strove to create a loving, strong family.

One of the main plot lines of the novel is Jasmine’s new project, which is photographing the old cabins of freed Black people from during the Reconstruction Era and speaking with their descendants of in order to document their histories. Through Jasmine and this project, Williams shines a light on the struggles they faced in trying to create lives for themselves away from slavery, while also highlighting the accomplishments they achieved (successful farms, a Black female doctor, and more) and their survival. This whole aspect of the plot was poignant and important and necessary.

As far as the representation, I can’t truly speak on any of it as I am not Black, nor do I have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. I felt all the rep was depicted well, but I will be paying attention for ownvoices reviews.


-kZP0NM4_400x400Synithia has loved romance novels since reading her first one at the age of 13. It was only natural she would begin penning her own soon after. It wasn’t until 2010 that she began to actively pursue her dream of becoming a published author. She completed her first novel, You Can’t Plan Love, in the fall of 2010 and sold it to Crimson Romance in 2012.

Her novel Making it Real was a USA Today Happily Ever After blog 2015 Must Read Romance and A Malibu Kind of Romance a 2017 RITA finalist.

When she isn’t writing, she works on water quality issues for local government while balancing the needs of her husband and two sons.


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