The number of series romance authors who are auto buys for me is shrinking down to a very few, but Marilyn Pappano is still one of them. When I saw Somebody’s Hero on the shelf, I snapped it up immediately. It is very loosely connected to two of her earlier titles, Somebody’s Baby and Somebody’s Lady, but it is not necessary to have read those to enjoy this book. Those two titles are some of my favorites and this one will join them.
Jayne Miller’s former husband Greg was a fun date…lively and active, and not at all serious. The characteristics that made him such a fun date made him a terrible husband and father, and they eventually divorced. Jayne got the deed to Greg’s grandmother’s house in Sweetwater, Tennessee and, since her career as a novelist is portable and she wants a change of scene, she decides to relocate. Greg had rhapsodized about the house, but when Jayne and her daughter, Lucy arrive, the big beautiful farmhouse that Greg had described turns out to be a small ramshackle cottage that needs some serious DIY.
To add to the inconvenience, Jayne and Lucy arrive during a spring snowstorm, and she has forgotten to call to have the utilities turned on. Help arrives in the form of their neighbor, the tall, dark, and taciturn Tyler Lewis. He is very helpful though, and gives them enough wood to build a fire and keep it going so they will be comfortable that night.
As the days go by, Tyler proves to be the best neighbor ever. He is always there to help, he bonds with Lucy and introduces Jayne to his family in Sweetwater. Jayne can’t help but notice though, that despite all of Tyler’s willingness to help, he is very reserved and evidently carrying a lot of baggage.
Tyler is carrying a terrible burden. He was the oldest child of a viciously abusive father. (The story is told in Somebody’s Lady). Del Lewis beat his wife for any reason he could think up and Tyler took it upon himself to be the family rescuer. Tyler did his best to shield his mother and siblings, even going so far as to divert beatings that were directed at them to himself. Finally Tyler’s mother stabbed Del to death and served time for involuntary manslaughter. Tyler looks very much like his father and based on an incident in his past, is convinced that looks are not the only thing he has inherited from his father.
Talk about a tortured hero…Tyler is a poster boy. His childhood was a hellish one, and it’s left him scarred and guilty. By nature he is someone who wants to love, cherish, and give of himself to those he loves, but his past life has left him thinking he is worthless and dangerous. I’ll admit my heart went out to him.
Jayne is as likable as can be, a romance writer who owns an endless series of t-shirts with funny sayings on them. She’s proud of her profession, hates to be patronized by people who want to know when she is going to write a “real” book, and does her best to be a good mother. She’s an intelligent and perceptive woman who sees the torment that Tyler is going through, and wants to help him. Jayne admits that while she can easily write a good tormented hero for one of her books, a real one is a lot more complicated and his problems are not so easy to solve.
Books like this are the reason I used to love series romance. I want to read books with likable characters who are flawed but see their way toward redemption in the end. I want to admire the characters, empathize with and yes, fall in love with them. I remember some of the series romances that got me hooked when I first began to read them – Reckless by Ruth Wind, Her Secret, His Child by Paula Detmer Riggs, Somebody’s Lady by Marilyn Pappano, A Rose For Maggie by Kathleen Korbel and the Trinity Street West miniseries by Justine Davis. I’ve kept these series books and others like them, and often take some out of their boxes to read again, but most of the time I end up taking newer series romances to the used book store. Somebody’s Hero will be in my comfort read box and I look forward to re-reading it.