Jul 18 2012 2:30pm

Genre Experiment: H&H Blogger Aliza Mann on Suzanne Brockmann’s The Unsung Hero

The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

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.


Aliza Mann, email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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2. Alizamannauthor
I very much enjoyed reading something that I may not have been drawn to on my own. Very fun to work on. :-)
Heather Waters
3. HeatherWaters
First of all, have to echo Victoria's comment--these posts have been great fun to read. You guys are all great sports!

I think I was actually part of the group that chose this one for you, Aliza. :) I REALLY liked the first few books in this series and I'm not even a huge romantic suspense reader myself. Third one remains my favorite. Agree Brockmann's a talented writer--glad to hear you did enjoy this one overall.
4. Alizamannauthor
I did end up recommending this to a friend who doesn't absolutely require vampires and weres to enjoy a novel and she is very happy with the book, the variety of characters and so on. Thank you for suggesting!!
Virginia Green
5. vloveg
This is an interesting experiment. If you ever decide to venture back into the Troubleshooters series, the WW2 side stories are eventually dropped and the characters get more complex. Brockmann still likes to have multiple stories running though, and sometimes multiple couples.
6. Alizamannauthor
Hi @vloveg. I may just do that. I have always been in love with WWII romances, but in Unsung, I think it was sensory overload. She was a new author for me and I wasn't prepared for the complexity.
The thing that amazed me about Brockman was her ability to keep it all straight. I didn't get lost in all those heads. That makes her a marvelous author, so I will not rule her out.
And thanks for the suggestion!
Nicole Leapheart
7. BoxyFrown
I am awlays so excited with these posts when one of you reads a book/series I enjoy. I love the Troubleshooters...if you ever get it in you to keep reading more, let me tell you...Sam and Alyssa...before there was Blay and Qhuinn there was Sam and Alyssa. lol

Brockmann's style in the TS series is to have so many layers and backstories, and I find I don't always enjoy that, but the main story is done so well, I find myself forgiving her nearly 20 books later. lol
8. TangelB
As a solid Brockmann fan, I find I really like the group atmosphere of her stories. Once you get further in, it becomes easier to follow as you probably already know the hero/heroine and their backstory. This setup allows you to focus more on what's happening between them now - along with more action. She's a definite buy for me - even if it did take her so long to tell Izzy's story! :)
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