Friday, January 30, 2009

It Takes a Hero by Lynn Lorenz

TITLE: It Takes a Hero
AUTHOR: Lynn Lorenz
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 23k)
GENRE: Gay contemporary erotic romance
COST: $4.99

Lieutenant Anthony Richmond planned for a military career until an explosion in Iraq cost him half his leg. Now, he’s trying to reconstruct some sort of life, but in order to do that, he must first undergo physical therapy. Enter Marcus Jamison. He’s a wet dream come true, and determined to get Tony back in shape. Though Tony balks, Marcus is stubborn, sticking it out until Tony caves. Physical therapy isn’t quite as tough as Tony expects, except for his growing attraction to his therapist…

I wanted to love this book. I don’t often – okay, rarely – pay much attention to most covers unless they’re truly awful or absolutely gorgeous. A cover isn’t going to tell me if the author can write, which ultimately is my purpose for buying a story. But occasionally, a cover sucks me in anyway, for whatever reason. In this novella’s case, I fell for the depiction of Marcus in the background, and frankly, I still look at the cover and think, “Guh.” So starting the story, I was in even more of a place of, “I hope this story rocks my socks,” than I usually am.

The opening scene is tense and tightly written. We’re thrust into the middle of the action with Tony in service and witness firsthand the accident that costs him his leg. It then jumps into short segments of what happens afterward, all very fitting with the disjointed mood of the narrator. By the time we get to the scene where his military lover leaves him, I’m rooting for Tony to try and get back on his proverbial feet.

That’s where the story starts to falter for me. Tony returns home and moves in with his sister Claire. He’s wallowing in self-pity and anger, refusing physical therapy. This is all to be expected, but the writing here wasn’t as powerful as it was in the opening scene. Marcus gets introduced, and the tension between the two men is palpable, but I was never fully able to enjoy it. Why? Because honestly, I started to dislike Tony. I understood he was angry, that he was lashing out, but all I ever saw was that. The story is told in 1st person, and mired in that perspective, all I get is the constant barrage of his frustration with nothing to show me that he’s got something to like underneath it all. With the introduction of Marcus, I hoped to start seeing some nuances, but they just never came.

Part of that stems from Marcus’ flat characterization. The man is too good to be true. Too good-looking. Too patient. Too knows exactly the right thing to do and say just when Tony needs it. If the man had flaws, I didn’t see them. Even Tony wonders about how perfect he is by comparing him to Mary Poppins. He’s a mask I never get to see past, which stems from a combination of being stuck inside Tony’s head and never getting to see Marcus be anything but perfect. Marcus even does the right/ethical thing when things take an unprofessional turn between the two men. I just wanted him to screw up once, show me he’s human, but that never came.

The story is more sweet than erotic, and while the few earlier scenes work for me, the last ones don’t. Part of it is word choice: I cried out as it pressed against my portal, having the prostate referred to as a “button,” and Our cocks rubbed together, long lost loves, reunited. It just doesn’t work for me as a reader. But I also think the last big one doesn’t work as well because the author chooses it as a big cathartic moment for Tony, and honestly, I wasn’t feeling it. Everything at that point seemed far too over the top, and I’m sure that added to my heightened sensitivity to word selections then.

So when I called this one done, I was disappointed. I had two guys – one too much of a jerk to like, the other too perfect – in a situation the author treated sensitively as drama but not so effectively as romance. I just needed more.


8/10 – Until it got to the last real love scene, clean and simple, if not memorable.


5/10 – I saw too much of his angry, “I’m a jerk” side than anything I could sympathize with to make me like him.


4/10 – Too perfect to be believable

Entertainment value

5/10 – I liked that the story tried, but the romance fell far short of working for me

World building

7/10 – The opening was great, as was the reality of his physical therapy. Everything else fell by the wayside.



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