Publisher: Ivy Books (June 6, 2000)
After a near-fatal head injury, U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a terrifying glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. When he calls for help, the Navy dismisses the danger as injury-induced imaginings. In a desperate last-ditch effort to prevent disaster, Tom creates his own makeshift counterterrorist team, assembling his most loyal officers, two elderly veterans of the Second World War, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton -- the sweet "girl next door" who has grown into a remarkable woman. Once known as the town’s infamous bad boy, Tom has always longed for Kelly. Now he has one final chance for happiness, one last chance to win her heart, and one desperate chance to save the day....
When a mission goes south for Tom he is on a medical leave for thirty days and he returns to his roots; the town Baldwin’s Ridge, his uncle Joe and his teenage crush Kelly Ashton. Completely convinced he will stay a few days, talk his uncle in to going on a vacation with him and upon return baffle the army psyches and go back to his team. But things go so very different upon the airport; there he recognizes a very dangerous terrorist named `The Merchant’.
Suddenly nothing is certain anymore, is this terrorist a figment of his head injury, or the real deal, which would mean a world of trouble for the small town of Baldwin’s Ridge. A town getting ready to celebrate and honor the efforts of the fifty-fifth in WOII.
THE UNSUNG HERO from Suzanne Brockmann leads me back to the days I couldn’t get enough of romance suspense and I remembered why I had such a burning torch for this genre. I felt I got three romances packed in one novel, each one connected, detailed and steeped with a range of emotions. There are not many authors who can pull of such a feat without surrendering some of the story quality. Each duo, may it be it Kelly and Tom, Mallory and David or Joe and Charles, irrevocably drew me in to a story that made me an instant fan of the TROUBLESHOOTER series.
The prologue immediately sets the pace for the whole story though at first I got a whirlwind of character introductions where the names dazzled in front of my eyes. I got to meet Tom Paoletti and his elite SEAL team 16 a.k.a `The Troubleshooters’. I decided to just go with the flow instead of trying to remember who was who and I was confident that the recurrent characters would stick out. As it turned out only two from the team became recurrent characters in this tale but each of the whole team, with their short and sweet introductions, captivated my interest.
For me what qualifies as a good romance suspense is where the threat is luring at all times, increasing the feeling of looming dangers for the characters and the intensity of the doubts and fears felt by them. Where a passion takes root that is scintillating and it doesn’t matter if it is a slow-burn one or a flaming inferno, you get to live it all up via the characters. I got that in a high dose from Suzanne Brockmann and more. I got Tom and Kelly who have a history together, what started in their teen age years is picked up now that they are adults. I got this sweet, budding romance with David and Mallory; he is a comic artist, she is trash of the town but together they connect and just fit each others quirks. And then there are Joe and Charles.
Now if I only got Tom and Kelly with David and Mallory and the mystery of the terrorist I would’ve been content, I would’ve loved this novel too. But the WOII story of Joe and Charles added such a profound, bittersweet intensity to the blend of this story that I was in a constant state of emotional involvement. Things happened in the fifty-fifth that put Charles and Joe in the center of all the action. At the present they are life-long friends, through the good and the bad and you can feel that through all they do or say. Without a doubt these two friends elevated this novel to greater heights for me.
Tom and Kelly together are the common thread throughout The Unsung Hero. Tom’s head injury brings credibility to his doubts of whether he actually spotted `The Merchant’ or if it was a figment of his imagination. His internal struggles are a major tension factor and I kept going between the yes and no team of whether this terrorist was real or not. Tom is the kind of SEAL hero that makes my toes curl in female delight. A bad-boy rebellious teenager grew in to a man who lives life on the edge with his Seal team. He is competent, sexy, has a magnetic personality, hasn’t lost all of his bad-boy habits and it is all wrapped up in a muscular package that make women go weak in the knees. Still his injury also gives him a vulnerability that makes him so very human. Tom is a romantic suspense hero to the core and he had me from his introduction. Opposed to Tom there is Kelly, and underneath the exterior of the nice, girl-next-door persona, hides a brazen, dead-honest, live-life-to-the-fullest woman for Tom to explore and get to know. The chemistry smoldering between them is off the chart good and it surprised me how mild the actual physical eroticism was. The emphasis was on that tantalizing increasing attraction, magnified to a delicious intensity that made me crave that physical release almost as much as the actual pair. In this I recognized the romance I loved to read in my mid-twenties and I hungrily devoured every page.
Another thing was how three major story threads were interwoven together, it all connected on various levels and managed to keep hold of detailed characterization, the pace and that intensity. It is with this kind of storytelling that I can read in to the middle of the night, I just had to know how all the things would find a conclusion. Last but not least, Mallory and David are young, vibrant yet serious for their age, and I was endeared by their budding romance. Everyone who ever felt like an awkward teenager will recognize something in these two and they will bring a smile to your face.
Whether or not `The Merchant’ is real I leave for you to find out as you might pick up your own copy. I was mesmerized by the dynamic storytelling of Suzanne Brockmann, how she managed to pack this novel from first till last page with characters who tell a story that almost overflowed with emotional ups and downs and a threat that lures around every corner. This is the kind of romantic suspense I will never grow tired of reading. Suzanne Brockmann has blown me away and she took the saying to heart; `You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. The Troubleshooter series has started with a bang and I’m still recovering from the aftershocks!
“I thought you were in a hurry to get out of here tonight.” David said evenly. ”Me? No way. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be than right here, wearing my lovely little speedo, flexing my abs, playing superheroes with my new friend Mallory.”
Quote Kelly;4,5 stars
So, okay, maybe she was a little bit nice. But so what? Weren’t nice women allowed to want heart-stopping passionately sex? Wasn’t she allowed to long for the exhilarating sensation of Tom’s incredible body out of control inside of her? As if nice women would only want polite, careful sex…
As if nice women didn’t sometimes have healthy, short-term, no string relationships simply for the sake of fulfilling a lifelong fantasy, for the sake of feeling that powerful carnival ride, stomach dropping, I’ve-got-a-crush-on-you-attraction, for the simple sake of having someone to hold on to when the night got particularly dark and lonely. (<- I could only think; “Rock on me fellow “nice” sista!”)