Lori Foster’s latest, Simon Says was a pretty ho-hum read which would have been soon forgotten if not for the hero. What made me ultimately decide to it give a better grade than I normally would is all due to the character of Simon Evans. It’s been a long time since I read such a wonderfully written hero; I fell in love with him from the start.
Simon was first introduced in Causing Havoc as his best friend’s trainer for an extreme fighting contest known as the Supreme Battle Championship (SBC). Once a figher, Simon retired, preferring to train others. This changes when he discovers incriminating photos of his girlfriend having sex with an anonymous man. His cheating girlfriend must be insane because Simon is everything a woman would want in a man: he is loyal, honest and of course, drop-dead gorgeous. His professional fighting name is Sublime mainly due to his looks, which embarrasses him. When was the last time you read about a hero being self-conscious about his looks? Simon loses himself in work, deciding to come out of retirement with a vengeance.
On the other hand there is Dakota Dream. Dakota is yet another one of those stereotypical grating Foster heroines. Dakota was a bit of a rebel as a teen and when her mother remarried, she ran away from home. She ended up marrying an abusive creep but eventually wised up and left him after her mother’s death. Our seemingly perfect heroine has an incredible singing voice and plays a multitude of instruments. People are also drawn to her despite the fact she doesn’t care to attract their attention. Dakota is not one to wear make-up or dress up, but her easy-going manner draws them to her.
But things aren’t going too well for Dakota since her stepfather, who happens to be Simon’s biological father, is blackmailing her. She has never forgiven herself for her shaky relationship with her mother and step-dad is holding some important letters her Mom wrote to her. All Dakota must do is convince Simon to see his estranged father, who walked out on Simon’s mother before he was born.
When Dakota enters Simon’s life, he is in for a whirlwind of emotion he has never felt before. At first he is annoyed by Dakota but she eventually charms him. He still doesn’t trust her, but for reasons he can’t explain, he starts to feel very protective and jealous of any man she comes in contact with, including his friends and fellow SBC fighters. For the first time in years, Dakota feels safe and loved. She does have some hang ups about sex due to her nasty ex-husband, but Simon is more than willing to show her how to embrace the loving and carefree woman he knows is hiding inside.
I enjoyed reading the antics of Simon and his crew, all of whom have their own distinct voices and personalities, even his ex-girlfriend who shows up to taunt Dakota and try to steal Simon back. I wish Foster had written a different heroine for Simon, one more realistic and dimensional, but even so, when she and Simon interact, they shine, bringing out the best in each other. Simon is such a joy to see when his protective nature comes out, as when he teaches Dakota some self defense moves in case her stalking ex shows up when he is not around.
Lori Foster has written a true gem with Simon, a character so much larger than life that he blew everyone else off the page. Every time he appeared I was smitten. He was such a presence for me that, regardless of a somewhat weak storyline and a heroine who has too much to live up to, I wound up enjoying Simon Says. There was no doubt about it – simply put, Simon was sublime.