H&H’s bloggers are all avid readers, of course, and each has their favorite genre.
So, of course, we challenged them to read outside of their favorite genre—to read a book, in fact, in a genre they never read in. And we asked another H&H blogger who does read in that genre to choose the best book for the neophyte to read.
We’ll be posting the results of the Genre Experiment as each blogger finishes—or does not finish (DNFs)—their book. Today, Aliza Mann reads the first book in Suzanne Brockmann’s romantic suspense Troubleshooters series, The Unsung Hero, as recommended by several fans on Twitter.
The Heroes and Heartbreakers team recently threw out a challenge, one that I wholeheartedly accepted. If you have ever had the opportunity to read any of my posts here at H&H, you may notice a definite preoccupation with vampires. I generally lean towards paranormal, but on the off chance I read something outside of that subgenre, the story usually has strong erotic elements. I am not a fan of sweet romances or anything too light. If we had to put it in terms of music, I prefer Lady Gaga to Taylor Swift. Yes, yes, I am a little monster.
So the genre selected for me was Romantic Suspense, specifically Suzanne Brockman’s The Unsung Hero. The book offered a few things that made me want to keep reading until the end: One of the secondary characters, Mallory Paoletti was an absolute firecracker. She was a rebel, misunderstood and a person to whom I could relate—she did not have it all together, had no idea of what direction to take in her life and was not a size four, or whatever the average size for a heroine goes for these days (I do realize that I just referred to her as the heroine, even though she was a secondary character, but she was a heroine in my eyes).
Another strong point was that the hero, Tom Paoletti, did not come off as 100% Alpha (or 100% of a seven letter a-word, at least). He was endearing. Yes, he was stubborn and self centered at times, but whether it was his particular condition (he had a debilitating injury early on in the story) that made him seem more human or his need to protect his family members, he was the type of guy that is easy to fall in love with. In some romantic suspense stories that I’ve read (better yet, DNFed), the reader is left wondering what in the world made the heroine fall in love with the guy (jerk) in the first place. Since Brockman layered in the back story (couple’s first meeting and history), we had an opportunity to see the man before the military career changed him into either an egotistical womanizer or desensitized in such a way that he takes on the feeling of a machine. This leads to the hero not having a realistic personality, but instead comes off as a caricature of a man. Please note that I do not feel that men in the military become that in real life, but in fiction these types of characters sometimes take on that persona.
There were, conversely, some elements of the book that left me a little bothered. And not in a good way. There seemed to be too many characters that I had to fall in love with. For instance, Joe Paoletti and Charles Aston were the parents/guardians of the hero and heroine. They had a completely relevant role in the story, but their backstories…it was too much. I don’t think I wanted to know all of that about them, and at times, I found it to be a distraction from the “real” story in my eyes—the main story between Kelly Ashton and Tom. Don’t get me wrong, secondary characters deserve to have a story as well, but not to the point that it pulls me out of my developing relationship with the H&H.
Speaking of the heroine, I was bummed that Kelly wasn’t as strong as Mallory, and she seemed to have no recognizable issues to deal with, aside from some work/family troubles. I wanted her to have something that was compelling, some major issue to overcome. So her father was unavailable to her as a youth and the love of her life went away unexpectedly before she could act on her feelings for him when she was a teen. Big Flippin’ Deal! She was flat and so like every other heroine that I didn’t want to connect with her. Was she cute? Yes. Was she memorable? Not so much.
Finally, the whole point of this experiment: Will I or won’t I ever read another romantic suspense story? Probably. The Unsung Hero did not leave me feeling as if I needed to cut through the tough exterior of the hero to get at what makes him tick; the heroine did not make me want to shake her (although, she needed as least one flaw, danggit); and the secondary characters were rich, adding to the fabric of the plot (in some instances, to a fault). I would recommend it to a friend that is interested in this type of story and Suzanne Brockman is a talented writer. I would urge her to think about moving some of those plot points into another novel next time, but I think that’s another blog post!
Until next time, try something new. You may be pleasantly surprised.