Harlequin, $6.50, ISBN 0-373-83576-0
Romantic Suspense, 2003
Wheel out your patriotic spirit, readers, and give money to Harlequin. Men of Courage stars a fireman, a rescue worker, and a doctor (all men, naturally) in this special anthology. Of course, why is this anthology different from the hundreds of Harlequin books out there starring firemen, doctors, rescue workers, Navy SEALs, FBI undercover agents, narc officers? Well, this one has two times the stupid (plus one boring) for only twice the price of your average series book. It’s a bargain.
Lori Foster’s Trapped! is the most readable only because the heroine isn’t too stupid to live. Rosie Carrington has known her brother’s best friend Ethan Winters like since forever (and I have been reading stupid old plots like this forever, oh, I hurt, I really hurt) but Ethan never cares, until when he wakes up next to her in bed after a bad hangover, which is where this story then starts. Rosie knows he is a rake, preaches to him, he listens to her, saves her from a burning building, and they live happily ever after. This one isn’t bad, but the main characters are stereotypes and so is the plot. The characters here are interchangeable with any of this author’s characters in the past. Oh dear, Ms Foster seems to be Trapped! in a rut.
You want to prove that your hero is a macho superman, so what do you do? Donna Kauffman’s answer? Pair him with a too stupid to live heroine, of course! Haley Brubaker is horrified when an earthquake hits San Francisco. Her dog! Somebody please save her dog! Boy, is she mad when the rescue workers are more concerned with finding trapped babies rather than to drop everything and get her doggy, so against Brett Gannon’s advice, she runs solo into Earthquake Country, requiring the hero to waste precious time he could have used to save trapped victims to chase after her. Naturally, trouble ensues thanks to Halfwit here. Of course the dog is safe – duh. Dogs are smarter than braindead romance heroines. I laugh hysterically when the heroine, trapped and about to die, grabs Poochie and prevents the dog from escaping because she doesn’t want to die alone. So much for loving Poor Poochie, heh heh heh. Other than that, Buried! should just stay buried.
Jill Shalvis closes the anthology with Stranded!, another pairing of a macho action man with another too stupid to live heroine. Molly Stanton is a typical idiot masquerading as an academic (concerned only about her work, drop dead beautiful but “Oh! I’m not beautiful! Oh! I don’t like wearing hot sexy dresses! Oh! Oh!”, et cetera), is busy digging soil when storm warnings are breaking out all over the place. Naturally, Matt Walker, the doctor hero, has to save her. They get stuck in a cellar where they have unsafe sex. Academia Barbie and Doctor Bonkers say that it is okay to have unsafe sex because she is on the pill and they haven’t done this in a long time. What do these people learn in college anyway? After he spends the entire book shagging and treating her as if she’s the new Porcelain Barbie, he decides that she saves him because he has had great sex in her arms. Whoa. Maybe we should get Molly to have sex with every guy in the ICU. Stranded! should remain stranded on the isle of clueless surrounded by the ocean of moron where it belongs.
These heroes may be Men of Courage but I feel so sorry for them for their choices of mates. Maybe they are men of courage after all, in their own way.