O.K., I like alpha males. No, I love alpha males. I am just crazy about a big, rugged, masculine man who is a real guy, and proud of it. What I don’t like is that so many of the alpha males in romance novels have a streak of either cruelty or arrogance, two traits that I despise.
So when I want an alpha without those despicable characteristics, I pick up a book by Beverly Barton and am very happy. Her male characters are just Tarzan enough to satisfy the Jane in me, without being knuckle-draggers.
Roarke’s Wife is one of the books in Ms. Barton’s Protectors series. All these books are about men who work for the Dundee Agency – a private security firm. These stories do not have to be read in any particular order.
Cleo McNamara has the controlling interest in the McNamara Chemical Plant. According to the terms of her uncle’s will, she will retain the controlling interest if she marries within a month of the reading of the will, and has a child in the next year. If Cleo is not married and pregnant within the year, the plant will be sold and the proceeds distributed among the McNamara relatives, almost all of whom are greedy leeches who want to sell out and spend the rest of their lives doing nothing. Cleo knows that the plant is the major employer in the town and wants to keep it as a family business. Since Cleo has taken over as the head of the plant, there have been several attempts at sabotage there, and even worse, there have been attempts made on her life.
Cleo comes to the Dundee Agency with a proposal. She wants to hire one of the men as a body guard, one who would be willing to become her husband. In return, she will pay one million dollars. Simon Roarke agrees to take the assignment. He had been badly wounded in the past year and wants out of the business. Simon also has an ex-wife in a mental hospital, whom he has been supporting because he blames himself for her condition.
Simon and Cleo begin a classic marriage of convenience, but it does not take them very long at all to fall passionately in love with each other. Ms. Barton writes some of the steamiest love scenes of any category writer, and during Cleo and Simon’s romantic encounters, not only does the earth move, but the planets re-align. There are plenty of writers who can do a steamy love scene, but Ms. Barton also shows us how Simon and Cleo grow to care for each other and just plain like each other as people, as well as love each other as husband and wife. As their love for each other deepens, Simon and Cleo have to solve the mystery behind the sabotage attempts, and the attempts on Cleo’s life. Also, Simon has to learn to forgive himself for his past mistakes and accept Cleo’s love.
Beverly Barton’s wounded alpha males are some of the best in the business. All of them are intensely masculine and very self-assured, but they are never cruel. Cleo McNamara is a good example of one of Ms. Barton’s heroines. She is very feminine, strong, kind, and full of empathy. What she is not is a doormat. There is a very funny scene where Cleo’s nasty cousin Daphne tries to seduce Simon, and when Cleo walks in on them, she knows exactly what Daphne is up to and really lets her have it.
I’ve read several of Beverly Barton’s books in the past year and her books are some of my favorite comfort reads. In the end, all of her books are about the tremendous power of love to heal any wound and make a person whole.