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Looking for a Hero by Patti Berg
(Avon, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-380-79555-8
****
When a book has me so engrossed that I try to read same while mixing my pie crust and actually resent having to make a trip to a bookstore because I haven't finished it yet, well, the odds are that it is a pretty entertaining read. And if the book is a time travel/fantasy not one of my favorite types then I guess no one is surprised that I heartily recommend Patti Berg's latest, Looking for a Hero. This book is fun!

The action begins in 1702. The infamous pirate Black Heart is in big trouble. A huge storm is tossing his fine ship, Satan's Revenge all over the place, his crew has abandoned the doomed vessel, and his mortal enemy, Thomas Low, has escaped from confinement below and is on the attack. When an errant mast hits him on the head, it looks like curtains for the pirate captain. But through grit and determination, he makes it to the nearby island that is his refuge and passes out. When he comes to, he finds his fortress in ruins and all his possessions gone. What could have happened?

Black Heart, whose real name is Morgan Farrell, also discovers that he has company on his island. A sweet little girl and her mother have also sought shelter from the storm, their sailboat beached by the heavy seas. From his hiding place, Morgan watches the lovely blond woman in the strange blue corset. And when the little girl discovers him and asks, "Are you a pirate?" he answers yes without thinking. She runs off to tell her mother that she has found the pirate she had wished for.

Kate Cameron is a widow whose beloved husband Joe had been fascinated by pirates. He had actually bought the little island because it was reputed to be the haunt of the infamous Black Heart. He promised Kate that they would find pirate treasure, but then he was killed while trying to halt a robbery. Even though Joe has been gone for over two years, Kate has not gotten over his death.

Needless to say, when Kate discovers a man dressed as a pirate on the island she is somewhat taken aback. She can only conclude he is some kind of actor playing a role. Although loath to trust such a disreputable looking fellow, she does agree to take him with her to her home port of St. Augustine.

While Morgan is unfamiliar with the materials used to construct Kate's boat, it is not until he reaches St. Augustine that he realizes that somehow or another he has traveled into the future. He wanders through the city, marveling at what he sees and searching for Kate, the only person who might believe his incredible story. And when he finds her, he finally passes out from his wounds.

Kate, an inveterate soft touch, cares for the wounded man. But when he wakes up and claims to be the pirate Black Heart, she is understandably nonplused. Despite his fearsome reputation, she discovers that he is kind to her daughter, Casey, and has a real way with the children whom she cares for each day. Can this man who tells wonderful stories and sings the children to sleep be in fact a ruthless pirate?

Morgan is likewise much taken by Kate. But he believes he must get back to his own time, especially when he reads in a history book that Thomas Low survived the storm to lead a long and prosperous life (and incidentally, to blacken Morgan's name.)

Thus the two lovers find themselves star-crossed. How can they be together either in the present or in the past? Kate has already lost one love. Will she lose another?

Looking for a Hero employs all the standard contrivances that are typical in time travel books. Morgan is awe struck by the modern world with all its incredible technology. Yet the heart of the book is the love story between two very different but equally needy people.

Patti Berg is one of today's most entertaining writers of fantasy romance. I thoroughly enjoyed Looking for a Hero. Morgan Farrell can wash up on my beach any day. I do believe in fairy tales, at least a little.

--Jean Mason


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