Mills & Boon, AUD7.99, ISBN 978-1-742-55925-4
Contemporary Romance, 2011
This is a title in the Medical Romance line, but don’t be fooled by the cover into thinking that the hero Marc D’Angelo is a doctor. He’s actually a cop, a new one transferred recently to the Australian small town of Jingilly Creek. He is so hot that he sets gossips’ tongues wagging and our doctor heroine Gemma Kendall’s heart into fluttering, but oh no, he has been hurt badly so he’s not ready to love again. Hence, The Man with the Locked Away Heart.
That’s basically the plot. The story is simple, and in fact, I’d argue that it’s probably too long – many scenes here seem suspiciously like filler of the “so many medical matters to tend to” dramatic variety, and the actual romance itself needs far fewer pages.
Also, the hero’s antics can be polarizing. As per the title suggests, this one hinges a lot on whether you’re okay with his constant throwing out bait and reeling the heroine in while pushing her away after he’s had his fun, using his past hurt as an excuse to keep playing these games. His behavior won’t be so bad if he didn’t at the same time act like a creep. Early on, his behavior can sometimes cross the line to disturbing horndog antics, such as him deliberately gazing at Gemma’s breasts before smirking at her during their early acquaintance.
On the bright side, life in Jingilly Creek actually doesn’t sound too bad, despite the townspeople acting uniformly like overly sweet, meddlesome types overly obsessed with the idea of Gemma’s hoochie recruiting one more member into the cult.
Also, while much of Gemma’s love for Marc seems like a mix of lust (every time she sees him, the author describes the hero’s body in painstakingly detail) and some weird savior complex that sees her wanting to understand and save Marc. Still, she is very self aware, and I like how she doesn’t let Marc walk all over her. In the end, he has to be the one who makes his choice, without her forcing him into one, and thus, I can buy the happy ending.
There are some good things here, and some contrivances typical of category romances as well. Still, the hero isn’t an asshole (just a whiny bloke with some creepy horndog tendencies), and the heroine is pretty smart and capable, so The Man with the Locked Away Heart is a decent quick read when one has some time to kill.