You hate breaking promises.

It’s not the look you see on the face of the person you’ve disappointed that bothers you–although that’s bad enough. And it’s not that you have a personal reputation to defend, but you do.

The problem with breaking promises is the guilt you’ll never assuage until you’ve made things better. And in the new book “Blair Underwood Presents From Cape Town with Love” by Underwood, Tananarive Due, and Steven Barnes, that “making better” part could get Tennyson Hardwick killed (c.2010, Atria, $25/$32.99 Canada. 365 pages).

Tennyson “Ten” Hardwick had a hard time following the knife. It stabbed the air quickly, like a sewing machine needle more than a weapon in the hands of a slight, bald man. But the display was no parlor trick: Ten knew a threat when he saw one.

Then, snakelike, the man melted into the crowd and Ten’s mind was back on the job, keeping the throng away from rich, gorgeous Sofia Maitlin as she hurried into the South African orphanage.

Maitlin had hired him to protect her as she visited the child she was adopting, and Ten took his work seriously.

Months later, the memory of that knife bothered Ten with a nagging unease. He’d since reconnected with an old high-school classmate who was beautiful, smart, and gave him plenty else to think about, but that disquiet returned afresh when Maitlin hired him to work security at her daughter Nandi’s birthday party.

Two hundred Hollywood parents and children were at the party, along with dozens of caterers and service workers. There were clowns at this party, carnies, and two elaborate inflatable bouncy-ships with lots of places for kids to hide – a security nightmare, in other words. And when the worst can happen, it always does.

Little Nandi was playing on an inflatable bouncy-ship where she went in but didn’t come out. A frantic afternoon search turned up nothing but an adult-sized hole in a back fence, and a hair ribbon the child had worn.

The ransom call came that evening. The kidnappers wanted $5 million, then more. And a little girl cried into the phone …

Hot enough for ya? No? Then turn up the heat because “From Cape Town with Love” grabs you by the shirtfront on page one, slams you into the action with no apology, and pins you there.

In this third book of the Tennyson Hardwick series, authors Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due, and Steven Barnes give readers a further peek into their main character’s personality while still preserving his sense of mystery. Bodyguard, sometime-actor, and former gigolo Tennyson Hardwick is cooler than a glacier, a man’s man who can’t resist women or responsibility but who has a soft spot that he’s not afraid to show. An enigmatic guy like that is hard to resist, so don’t even try.

Although this novel can be read as a stand-alone book, reading the previous two will give you a better frame of reference. You won’t mind, though, because “From Cape Town with Love” gives your summer so much more promise.