A Perfect Hero
Please do not make the mistake of looking at the cover of A Perfect Hero with its picture of three adorable toddlers and a teddy bear with a Whose Child? blurb on it and say, “Oh no, another secret baby book!” Yes, there are secret babies in this book, but there is so much more!
Ian MacDougall is an agent for the ATF. He had been undercover with a gang of racist neo-nazis when his cover was blown. The bomb that had been met for him killed his ex-wife and two little girls instead, and Hutch Renfrew, the neo-Nazi leader, was acquitted by a jury and disappeared. While Ian is trying to drink himself into oblivion, he meets Marca Kenworth while she is trying to save a dog from being beaten to death by some thugs. When the thugs turn on Marca, the agent in Ian kicks in and he saves her and the dog. Ian and Marca have one night of protected sex and he leaves. The protection fails and Marca has triplet boys.
O.K., I know what you’re saying. “He resents her, she resents him and the babies act cute and adorable and eventually bring Mommy and Daddy together”. No, if you want that, you’ll have to find another book.
Ian discovers that attacks have been occurring around Bradenton College where Marca is on staff, and these attacks match Hutch’s methods. He gets himself assigned to the case and meets Marca again while he is investigating. Marca is a rare woman. She does not resent Ian at all. Marca has managed to create a loving home for her boys, and while she is happy to see Ian, she is perceptive enough to realize that he is hurt and blames himself for something he is reluctant to divulge. Ian is totally surprised to find himself the father of three boys and while he quickly grows fond of them, he is also scared to death to get too close because of his guilt over his daughters’ deaths. Marca understands his feelings and welcomes Ian into her family’s life, but does not press him to make a commitment he cannot make, and she won’t act as his doormat either. Marca has enough patience and insight to give Ian the love he needs and wait for him to open up.
A Perfect Hero is well-balanced. There is introspection on Ian’s and Marca’s part and action and adventure when Hutch the Nazi-Slime-Mold-In-Human-Form finally tips his hand. The children are adorable and do not overpower you with forced cuteness. A caveat. If, as I do, you do not like to read anything where children are put in danger, you might be bothered by a part of the book where the triplets are endangered. Although I knew this was romance novel and that there would be a happy ending, I was bothered that the author Riggs included such a sub-plot.
The growing love between Ian and Marca is handled beautifully and the love scenes are passionate but realistic. Ian is 46 and is truthful in admitting that he needs rest after making love. Marca, too is a realistic heroine. She is 42, with small breasts and cellulite, but Ian loves her for herself, not just her body.
I have to credit Paula Detmer Riggs for making me realize that I had been wrong about category novels. For a long time I did not read them, thinking they were fluff. One day at a used book store, I picked up several category novels and the first one I read was Paula’s The Bachelor Party. I fell in love with its complex and tortured hero Ford Maguire, changed my mind and have been reading category novels ever since. Of course, sometimes you have to sift a lot of sand to find a diamond – but as long as there are good books like A Perfect Hero out there, I’ll keep reading.