As a young girl growing up in Los Angeles, Keshon Gray had always been Rennie Williams’ hero. Whether it was taking care of his terminally ill mother or trying to shield her brother from gang violence, Gray had always been there for those who needed him.
Rennie was fourteen when her brother was shot and killed by a rival gang member. Gray walked her home from school, drove her to the grocery store, helped her with her homework and made sure she ate while her father worked. On the night before she escaped an uncertain future in their neighborhood to begin her studies at the University of Texas, Gray and Rennie became lovers.
When Hero at Large begins, it is nine years later and Keshon Gray is living a lie. He is an undercover agent for a secret government operation SPEAR (Stealth, Perseverance, Endeavor, Attack and Rescue). He is the latest agent on the trail of the elusive traitor and arms dealer known only as Simon. Agents have tracked him through the West Coast, London, and the Middle East as part of Silhouette’s 12-episode “Year of Loving Dangerously” series.
Rennie is now a psychologist in a women's counseling center. Her clients have a wide range of problems, many as a result of loving the wrong men. Rennie and Gray are reunited at a trendy night spot where he is working undercover. They come together after Rennie has an interesting conversation with her two best friends on why women are attracted to so-called bad boys. Rennie’s theory: “We're attracted to bad boys because they're sexy and dangerous, and we secretly believe that we can change them.”
Gray tries to stay away from Rennie because his undercover work prevents him from being truthful with her. She is determined not to let him slip out of her life again. And, putting her bad boy theory into practice, she attempts to offer him stability, the one thing his work prohibits. The release of an old nemesis from prison coincides with a number of strange occurrences in Rennie's life. Gray is sure the two are connected to his reappearance in her life.
Robyn Amos has written a compelling story about two people with a past attempting to make a future. While I haven’t read the books in the “Year of Loving Dangerously” series, I have read the author's complete body of work. As in Into the Night, Private Lies and True Blue,Robyn Amos handles romantic suspense well. Hero at Large assembled an interesting cast of secondary characters, including Gray’s partner, Seth Greene, the hero of the series’ next installment.
The chemistry between the two characters is believable. Robyn Amos creates a wealth of memories between them. Particularly compelling was a scene in which the couple created a meal from leftovers called “Everything stew.” “He stirred the pot, watching the colors swirl together until a jumble of vivid memories began to bubble out of the stew along with the steam.”
Rennie's character is particularly credible as she is torn between her love for Gray and “doing the right thing.” Her professional and personal lives collide when she questions whether she is in denial about Gray’s actions and explanations like the clients she had counseled. For his part, Gray is torn in too many directions - his growing disenchantment with being an undercover criminal, his love for Rennie, his need to protect her and his current assignment. His conflicts proved to be major distractions from the main romance. In addition, I still had several unanswered questions about Gray and Rennie’s early relationship that were never resolved by
Hero at Large’s predictable, yet somewhat murky ending.