by Michelle Cary, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-928-X
Meet our hero Derek Ryson. He used to be a high school football jock. After 9/11, he joined the army and served in Iraq. I tell you, if we stamp "GI Joe" on his forehead, nobody will blink an eye. But in case some of you are thinking that Derek is a typical caricature of a right-wing militant crackpot, Ms Cary wants you to know that some of Derek's best buddies are gay and he respects their personal choices.
I tell you, when a sane woman like our heroine Jordan Minx (no, really, that's her name) is confronted with this man in the diner where she works as a waitress and she hears of his sad story about his house having burned down, he having no money other than the little amount in his pockets, and his friends are all unavailable to take him in, can you blame her for offering him a place to sleep for the night? It's not as if he can be a creep or worse. He plays football, served in Iraq, and is a walking embodiment of everything wholesome that is made in the USA. Kinda like a walking country song, come to think of it. Him being a creep? Impossible.
And wait until you see that scar on his chest. He's like the action figure that drops its star-spangled boxer shorts to reveal a super erection when you press a button on its back.
As I read Some Kind Of Hero, I wonder whether I'm in for some kind of set-up that one can find only in adult movies. Jordan, so turned on by the hot guy in her house, masturbates in the bathroom. Needless to say, they are soon in bed after some token "oh no, is this too fast?" moments. It turns out that Jordan likes her share of kinky things when it comes to sex, but the whole Miss Kinky Chi-Chi meets All-American Wholesome Jockstrap love affair encounters a bump in the road to a happily ever after when Jordan's boyfriend or ex-boyfriend (depending on whom you ask) shows up to cause problems.
Some Kind Of Hero is a very uneven story because there are times when it is very good just as there are times when it isn't that good. The set-up leading to the first sex scene is too exaggerated for me but there are enough emotional bonding that takes place here to make the romance seem quite credible. Derek is a flat character since the author substitutes actual characterization for rah-rah all-American-hero traits. On the other hand, Jordan has much more depths than Derek. By the way, I should warn readers that there are many things about Jordan that are far from admirable, especially when details about her relationship with the ex-boyfriend come to light, but I personally have no problems with her. In fact, I find her less-than-admirable traits make sense in this story. I will have more problems believing how Jordan could last that long with her ex-boyfriend if Jordan turns out to be a sensible person.
The author also sends a mixed message about Jordan's sexual lifestyle. Early on, Jordan tells Derek that she likes going to bed with two men who adore her and lust after her, but towards the end, when she announces that she's a new and improved woman, she rejects her previously more adventurous sexual lifestyle. I'm still not sure how she comes to that conclusion, but I won't blame anyone who walks away from this story thinking that Ms Cary, through Jordan, is saying that threesomes and what not are habits of people who have self-esteem issues of some sort.
I like the author's writing style and I would have loved to like Some Kind Of Hero more, but alas, it's too uneven and even rough around the edges all over the place for me to objectively rate this book higher. A part of me likes this book despite its flaws, but I believe that says more about the author's voice than the actual quality of this story.
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