The first series romance I ever read was given to me by my sister, whose taste in books (and movies, and clothes, and men . . .) is miles apart from mine. Needless to say, it was years before I picked up another one, but if I were to recommend a series romance today, I would definitely choose one of the Tall, Dark, & Dangerous books by Suzanne Brockmann.
A man wakes up to the relentlessly cheerful voice of a shelter volunteer. His surroundings mean nothing to him, and neither does the face that stares back from the mirror. Navy SEAL Mitchell Shaw does not remember who or where he is, and the only clues to his identity are hidden in one of his boots – a ton of money, a woman’s name, the address of a ranch, and a gun. He leaves the relative sanctuary of the shelter, and the volunteer who calls him Mish (short for Mission Man) and heads for the ranch, hoping to find some clue to his identity. Instead, Rebecca Keyes, who runs the ranch, assumes he is Casey Parker, a new ranch hand who’s due to start working for her. Because she desperately needs the help, she hires “Casey.”
Overworked and underpaid, Rebecca is drawn to her mysterious new employee, even though at first she thinks him incompetent because he doesn’t know how to cool down a horse. His skills come in handy, though, when there is a life-or-death situation at the ranch, and Becca begins to wonder just where Mish (as he has asked her to call him) comes from.
Mish has no idea if he is Casey Parker, but the name sure doesn’t sound familiar. His only hints as to who he really is come in the nightly nightmares that plague him – nightmares filled with scenes of being shot and time spent in prison. Although he begins to fall for lovely, strong Becca, he fears those dreams mean that he is a criminal and he tries his best to keep his distance from her. Meanwhile, Mitchell’s Navy SEAL team is busy searching New Mexico for him, and for the killer who could end up procuring the next nuclear bomb.
By the time the real Casey Parker shows up, Rebecca and Mitchell have already admitted their mutual attraction, and a desperate Mitchell must decide whether to trust the woman who is his sole anchor in this unknown world he faces, or leave her behind.
I don’t mind tortured heroes – what I intensely dislike is a hero who self-flagellates – but luckily, Mitchell does not fall into this potential trap. His nightmares and thready recollections all seem to indicate that he has been leading a life of crime, and his reluctance to get Rebecca involved is understandable. He also shows incredible trust in her, even though his first instinct is to continue the lie, and he still seeks to protect her until the death. All in all, Mish was a very likable hero.
Rebecca is a strong heroine, not the sort that turns into a bowl of jelly once she plants eyes on the man she’s attracted to. She may be drawn to Mish, but that doesn’t stop her from doing her job – or from ripping into Mish when he admits his ranch hand skills may not be up to par. She’s also proven herself as the boss at the ranch; it is her word that counts and whether or not they like it, the men who work there respect her.
Reading one of Suzanne Brockmann’s Tall, Dark, & Dangerous books means going back to familiar territory – and I say this in a good way. Not only do we meet characters from previous books, but so far, all of the books in the series I have read have been worth my time and money. If you like your romance and suspense well balanced, I would recommend Identity: Unknown.