Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-244125-6
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Despite being a shorter story that is part of a series called Men in Uniform and being set in a military backdrop, I Need a Hero lacks espionage, explosions, and anything remotely romance suspense-y. Sergeant Oliver Martinez, our hero, punched the son of a general in a bar brawl and the general son’s tried to get too cozy with an unwilling lady, and as a result, Oliver is “transferred” to the Alpha Dogs Training Program, a division of the military that takes in troubled kids and teach them to train army dogs. Oliver’s new duty, when the story opens, is to work with our heroine Evelyn Reynolds in getting into order an upcoming charity event.
Eve wants the event to work out well, as it’s her first big time assignment, one that will make or break her fledgling event management business. However, she is prejudiced against military men in general, seeing them as unsuitable candidates for long term relationships because her mother used to fret and worry over her army dude father’s constant assignments away from home… I’m sure you have read that one before, it’s a pretty common plot device in romance stories with army dudes. Therefore, when the story opens, she puts Oliver through all kinds of “tests”, without telling him of course, and acting all weird and stand-offish in the process. I mean, she refuses to even let him stop and eat, despite him being hungry, because heaven forbids she lets an army man think that he can boss her over – that is the kind of behavior I am talking about. Worse, when I meet her parents, I feel that Eve’s issues seem way overblown. Her parents are pretty happy together, so what gives?
Oliver is a pretty standard hero, but I like that he’s more self aware than Eve about his own issues, and he is often trying to make things happen instead of wallowing in self pity or spending too much time dwelling on could-have-beens.
Fortunately, the story gets more easy to read once Eve stops being a by-the-dots example of a heroine who needs to see a shrink about her daddy issues. The two characters have some good chemistry, and their sexy moments, while not over the top explicit or anything like that, can raise the heat because of this chemistry. However, my mood is dampened by the plethora of matchmaking, cheerleading secondary characters that have nothing to do than to egg Eve and Oliver on. They are intrusive and annoying, and worse, they even smirk – I really hate that word and I wish authors would stop using them especially on intrusive plot device characters who just have to get all smug and self-satisfied when they discover that Oliver and Eva are sleeping together. I know, life in a military base may be boring now and then, but I’m sure there are better things for them to do, like go skin cats in the back alley or something.
Anyway, I Need a Hero is not exactly a groundbreaking or memorable read, but it has some good chemistry between the lead characters where it counts the most. That makes it okay with me.