The Unsung Hero
by Suzanne Brockmann, contemporary (2000)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-8041-1952-X


Romance may be having a population boom of Navy SEALs, but hey, the more to go around, the better. The Unsung Hero is vintage Suzanne Brockmann when it comes to larger-than-life "Ooh baby, take care of me please, you hunky darling' you!" heroes. Now, can someone find these poor guys a worthy heroine? (Anyone wants my number? Okay I'm shameless, so sue me.)

Navy SEAL sex symbol and action figure Lt Tom Paoletti may be balding and on a one-month convalescent leave, but boy, does he have troubles! His Team 16 is disbanded, a casualty of military politics, and his superiors now think he's a bit cuckoo in the head after surviving a security job went awry.

But no matter. Back to idyllic Baldwin's Bridge, Massachusetts he goes for some enforced R&R. But guess who - or what - are waiting for our hero's homecoming?

There's Kelly, the good-girl who was his uptown girl sixteen-years back. Now, she wants him in her bed. Now.

His Great Uncle Joe is doing a Grumpy Old Men act with his former best buddy Charles (Kelly's father) over Joe's spilling of some top-secret stuff about a battle during World War 2.

Tom's niece Mallory is going on a typical teenage rebellion stage of drugs and cigarettes and sex. Really, can these girls be any more unoriginal?

What else did I miss? Ah yes, The Merchant, terrorist extraordinaire, is spotted in town! It is up to Tom to form an amateurish Dirty Dozen to save the world.

Poor Tom. Come over here and rest your head on Big Momma's lap.

The Unsung Hero is an uncomfortable hybrid of everything cliché and great suspense. As usual, the heroine comes off as an irrational let-me-nurse-my-daddy-and-be-miserable act whose hot and cold antics come off as just annoying after a while. Kelly, go home, and let me take over, you wimp. Oh, and there's her priceless good-girl-want-to-get-laid-and-loosen up act, literally priceless because the whole act has been redone so often and then some.

And don't get me started about Mallory who should just do me a favor and pack herself off to Dawson's Creek or something. Fortunately, her paramour David is another sexy dude who saves the day.

But ooh, Tom! What a hunk. A scoundrel and a rake as well as a noble superhero, he saves this book from being yet another exercise in mediocrity from a talented author. That, and the sheer adrenaline of the suspense. The author shines most when she is writing about the underlying nobility of one's sacrifice and love for the country and our fellow mankind. In the face of larger-than-life Tom and the charmingly dorky David the graphic novel creator, Kelly and Mallory's underdeveloped, one-note characterization stick out like penguins in a football field.

I don't know. I am very, very entertained by The Unsung Hero when it comes to the guys. Then comes the romance and I start wishing that these annoying, whiny ladies would just scram and leave the boys alone for me to sigh at.

Rating: 80


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