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When A Hero Comes Along
by Teresa Southwick
(Silh. Sp.l Ed #1904, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0373-24904-7
****
Vulnerability is a trait that is foreign to most really macho men, so when that comes through it is often endearing.  Attractive military men also often have that mix of mental toughness and tender hearts.  When A Hero Comes Along clearly is based on that type of man and luckily for readers, the author pairs him with a woman who has some issues of her own, but who is willing to wait until her man reconciles his two sides.

Kate Carpenter and Joe Morgan met and had a steamy affair about a year ago. Joe was in the Marines and after just a little over a month, found out he was being shipped out to Afghanistan. Earlier in his career, he had gone overseas, leaving his wife to wait for his return. When he did, she informed him she had had a steamy affair with his only brother Preston and she had filed for divorce. Needless to say, beyond ruining his relationship with his brother, it had soured Joe on his belief that anyone would wait for him. So he just broke it off clean with Kate, leaving her desolated. When she wrote him six months later that she was pregnant, he got shot down before he could respond.  But that knowledge of his child helped keep him alive during several months of captivity.

Now Joe has returned and on his first day back in town, he comes to see Kate and his son.  J.T. (for Joseph Turner) is now a three month old and looks just like his father.  Kate is unsure how to react and is so fearful of being hurt that she doesn’t exactly welcome Joe back with open arms. Joe wants a relationship with his son and pushes her into giving him visitation time.

This is a complicated tale of finding love and figuring out how the past can help us grow, and yet fuels how we see life.  Kate grew up with a single mother who was constantly searching for Mr. Right, but never finding him. Kate resented the men, yet pitied her mother for being so needy. She promised herself she would never “Need” a man for her happiness. Her experience with Joe cemented her concerns. Joe meanwhile, is battling the demons from the war and his captivity. He wants to protect Kate from the ugliness and is convinced if she knows what he had to do to survive then she would never let him near J.T. So he uses humor and sarcasm to mask his feelings. The more he blocks Kate from knowing him emotionally, the more she pries, seeing that he has to let go of the past to embrace the future, if there is to be one. His relationship with his brother also has to be resolved.

This story held just the right amount of angst and sentiment to make it fill the reader’s heart, but just enough practicality to keep it from feeling heavy.  This is one of the best of this type of category I have read in a while. The only thing keeping is from the five heart review is the speed in which the ending occurred and all the pieces fell into place.

Southwick has come close with some of her other tales, but When A Hero Comes Along signals a maturity in her writing that makes her one of the authors I will now seek out. Don’t miss this story full of depth and romance. 

--Shirley Lyons


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