Accidental Hero is a book I was greatly looking forward to. It’s a sequel to Accidental Heiress, a first novel by the author that I really enjoyed. That novel was intriguing, interesting, warmly written and featured a compelling hero and heroine. The reason why I was so looking forward to this sequel was that it featured the hero’s bad boy brother Ross, who played a prominent role in the first book.
In the first book, Ross was troubled, tormented, drank and gambled too much, and caused the hero and heroine a lot of headaches. I couldn’t wait to read his story and see how love would help him work his way though his troubles. Unfortunately, the intriguing bad boy of the first book has been turned into a generic, one-dimensional cowboy in this one, and when combined with a heroine who’s a few bricks shy of a load, it makes for a less than interesting story.
Maggie Bristol is a cop who returns to her hometown to be close to her family. Since there are no positions open in the local sheriff’s department (and the sheriff doesn’t believe women belong on the force), she is forced into a dispatcher’s job, which bores her to tears. But given her skills as a police officer as portrayed in the book, maybe serving coffee and filing papers is her forte. Maggie suspects that her boss is corrupt and up to no good with local rich boy Trent Champion. Her suspicions begin when she witnesses an argument between the two men and later finds a secret drawer in her bosses’ office. The sheriff makes an obvious point of showing her what’s in the drawer (something that wasn’t there when she discovered it), but this doesn’t make a supposedly crack detective like Maggie suspicious. More evidence is dropped in Maggie’s lap, but she ignores it. Instead of focusing on the departmental corruption, Maggie is too busy hating Ross Dalton, a man from her past.
Ross is the town bad boy, or rather, he used to be. All the boozing, the gambling, the womanizing and the petty crime he committed in the first book is history. Ross is busy becoming a respectable citizen by working at his brother’s ranch and building his own home. The towns people really don’t trust him, but their disdain is never overt or serious. The reader is simply told they don’t like him, never shown it. Maggie hates Ross because when they were teens, he rejected her because she wouldn’t have sex with him and she never got over it. She’s still angry because he doesn’t remember her or the incident.
The story is a big problem in this book. There really isn’t much of one. Any spark of character Ross had no longer exists, vanishing between the first book and this one. Mostly he hangs around and beats up on himself because he thinks he is unworthy of Maggie’s love. But even when he gets Maggie’s love, the two characters still have no chemistry.
The mystery plotline involving corruption in the sheriff’s department is handled badly for two reasons: the story doesn’t run throughout the novel. It’s only brought out here and there in an attempt to create conflict in the romance. More importantly, it could easily and obviously been solved in the first few chapters if Maggie had thought about it instead of obsessing about her anger at Ross.
The writing itself is competent enough and I found a couple of the supporting characters to be interesting, especially Aunt Ruby and Trent, the villian of the story. When they were on stage, the story was actually interesting. But, without a viable and compelling hero and heroine, the book is just flat. Ross had the potential to be a memorable hero, but instead he was just a touch shy of bland. Maggie was presented as a intelligent, skilled police officer, but acted anything but. If only the author had followed through on the promise shown in Accidental Heiress this could have been a much better, much more intriguing book