Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Hero Under Cover by Suzanne Brockmann
Murder attempts were not the norm for art authenticators. Neither were bodyguards. Yet Annie Morrow needed Pete Taylor's protection. But what would happen when she learned her rescuer's secrets...?
Published in 1994, this was Brockmann's first book for Silhouette Intimate Moments. I stumbled over it at a neighborhood book exchange. As expected, it was a fast read through an old formula. I was pleased however, to find that Brockmann excelled even in her early days. Despite the constrictions of formula writing, Brockmann's characterization was strong and the plot twists clever. I enjoyed it.
HeartThrob by Suzanne Brockmann
This one has been in my TBR stack (a really small stack) for over a year. It wasn't until I saw it on the top 100 reads of '04--and noted everyone's comments about it, that I moved it up on my To Do list.
NO WOMAN COULD RESIST HIM...Once voted the "Sexiest Man Alive," Jericho Beaumont had dominated the box office before his fall from grace. Now poised for a comeback, he wants the role of Laramie bad enough to sign an outrageous contract with movie producer Kate O’Laughlin -- one that gives her the authority to supervise Jericho’s every move, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
ESPECIALLY THE ONE WITH THE MOST AT STAKE...The last thing Kate wants to do is baby-sit her leading man, and Jericho Beaumont may be more than she can handle. A player in every sense of the word, he is an actor of incredible talent -- and a man with a darkly haunted past. Despite her better judgement, Kate’s attraction flares into explosive passion, and she is falling fast. But is she being charmed by the real Jericho -- or the superstar who dazzles the world?
Not at all what I expected. Given the blurb, I anticipated a light bodyguard romance in reverse--with the woman in the role of bodyguard. Or in this case, as babysitter to a petulant (but brooding and sexy) hero. Neither character fit my preconceived stereotyping. And the story was not the stuff of a light read. It was as complex, as deeply emotional, as some of Brockmann's SEAL books. Featuring characters with ugly baggage, questionable futures and few redeeming qualities.
I was in Jericho's corner almost from the outset. And stayed there. He is an unlikely hero, suffering a good deal of humiliation throughout the story. Yet Brockmann was able to give him an aura of power or strength--despite his weaknesses--without sacrificing believability or consistency. His power comes from his undisputed talent and drive (for his work). His strength is a barely there control over his alcoholism and suppressed rage. A false strength if you will. He is an engaging hero with surprising depth.
Kate also held surprising depth. Brockmann assigns Kate her own set of dichotomies--false strength, masking insecurities, pitted against unerring dedication--with competence to match--in the making of her movie. She comes alive with the same force as Jericho--engaging the reader in the battle for allegiance. Interesting approach that--spending much of the book in a contest over who readers will support--Kate or Jericho--before rallying them to cheer for the romance, the HEA for both. Not a storybook romance. But a poignant one.
I also enjoyed the book's setting, the movie-making. Brockmann succeeded in giving the set, the actual making of the movie, its own character--one that featured prominently throughout the story. It provided the framework for the book's secondary plotline of racism and the pitfalls suffered by child actors. Just as in her SEAL romances, I did not mind the secondary storyline or its political bent. It served nicely, adding dimension to the overall telling and furthering the characterization of Kate and Jericho.
Loved the ending. A much better step in the HEA than the expected Oscar nod.
My only regret was not getting to this title sooner. Now I understand why it made the top 100 list for so many. Can anyone tell about BodyGuard? As good?