From the BLURB:
After a near-fatal head injury, 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 war veterans, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton-the sweet "girl next door" who has grown into a remarkable woman. 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 . . .
This is the first book in Suzanne Brockmann’s ‘Troubleshooter’ series (currently with 15 books). I was looking forward to this one because the premise of the series reminded me of JR Ward’s ‘Blackdagger Brotherhood’, by being about a band of ‘warrior’ men – but minus the supernatural aspect and made into a contemporary romance.
I think ‘Unsung Hero’ was the wrong introduction to Brockman’s ‘Troubleshooter’ world (despite it being the first book). I was hoping there would be plenty of interaction between the Navy SEAL characters: a sense of camaraderie between the men who fight side by side. But this first book is about a SEAL who is on sick leave, and back in his New England hometown recovering.
I was even more disappointed by the plot/setting because the opening chapter was fantastic! Lieutenant Tom Paoletti and his SO Squad are sent to a foreign country to retrieve the wife of an American ambassador. All is going fine until the local army decide she can’t leave and try to hijack their transport. Much gun fighting and dare-devil stunts ensue.
It was a great, thrilling opener. In just 8 pages there was back-and-forth between the men, tongue-in-cheek jokes and fairly decent action. I especially liked the SEAL humor, particularly when describing the ambassador’s wife:
She was one of those leathery tan fifty-something women who looked as if she should be wearing tennis whites with the little panties under her skirts at all times, holding a racket in one hand, a martini and cigarette in the other.
But after that opening chapter, I was disappointed. The rest of the story revolves around Lt. Tom going home to recover from a serious injury. Brockman tries to keep the action up – by having Tom see a suspected terrorist right in his home town – and there is a guessing game for the reader and Tom as to whether the terrorist exists, or is a by-product of Tom’s head injury.
Brockmann also tries to keep up the suspense by weaving a second storyline concerning Tom’s uncle, Joe and his best friend, Charles. Both Joe and Charles were behind enemy lines during WWII and as the V-Day celebrations approach a story begins to surface about Joe, Charles and a French female resistance fighter, Cybele. Brockmann tells this story through flashback and deep-and-meaningful conversations between Joe and Charles. But to be honest, I didn’t like this second storyline because the ‘heroine’ was such a bitch. Turns out, there was a love triangle going on between Joe, Charles and Cybele. Reading the flashbacks I got the distinct impression that Cybele enjoyed playing the two men off each other, and was really quite cruel in the way she tugged at their heartstrings. At one point she has sex with Joe because Charles turned her down – and then rubs the fact that she slept with Joe in Charles’s face. Maybe that’s not *exactly* how Brockmann intended Cybele’s actions to come across, but that’s how I read it.
There is a romance between Tom and his old next-door neighbor, Kelly. I didn’t particularly like this romance either – mostly because Brockmann uses a romance plot ploy that I *despise* - having the hero and heroine being each other’s childhood crush. All the chemistry between the two relies so heavily on their past feelings and flirtations – so much so that nothing between them in present day comes across as particularly sparky.
And I didn’t like Brockmann’s sex scenes – I don’t always need gratuitous sexual descriptions in my romances, but when the author trots out this old chestnut: “it was hard to tell where he ended and she began” – at the moment of penetration, I pretty much just roll my eyes and skim read.
He kissed her. He couldn’t help himself, not when she was gazing at him so fiercely and touching him like that. He kissed her slowly and as sweetly as he could, careful to keep his own explosive desire on the shortest possible leash
There’s also a third storyline about Tom’s niece, Mallory and a boy she meets, David. To be honest reading this 3rd plot was a bit WTF? for me, and not really worth mentioning.
Toward the end of the book Tom does call on his SEAL buddies in case he isn’t hallucinating seeing a terrorist in New England – but it was a case of too little too late. By that point I was bored to tears and skim reading.
I won’t be reading more of Brockmann’s ‘Troubleshooter’ series. She didn’t really put her best foot forward with ‘The Unsung Hero’, so I won’t bother seeing if the series improves.