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A Forever Kind of Hero
by Marie Ferrarella
(Silh. Int. Mom. #943, $4.25, PG-13) 0-373-07943-5
***
A common romance convention contrasts the hero and heroine: one is rich, the other, poor; one is controlled, the other, emotional. In an unusual twist, Marie Ferrarella has avoided this convention in A Forever Kind of Hero and has given us a hero and a heroine who are more alike than different.

Both Megan Andreini and Garrett Wichita are in branches of the same profession, he as an agent for the DEA, she as a private investigator for ChildFinders, Inc., a firm that finds lost children. Both Megan and Garrett have been drawn to their jobs because of similar traumatic childhood experiences. Megan's older brother was kidnapped when she was a child; Garrett's older brother ran away to a life on the street that led to his death. Finally, although Megan shows more of tendency to improvise than Garrett, both depend strongly on logic and reason, both mistrust their emotions.

Garrett and Megan meet when a 14-year-old from a stable, middle-class home runs away. Megan is called in by the Teasdales to find their daughter; Garrett spots Kathy Teasdale in a picture with a big-time drug dealer he is pursuing. Both Garrett and Megan want to find Kathy, but Garrett's primary goal is to take down the drug dealer while Megan is focused on rescuing the teenager.

The similarity of their goals encourages them to share information and work together while at the same time the differences in the outcome they seek fosters suspicion and distrust. Megan worries that Garrett will be so single-minded about catching his drug dealer that he won't protect Kathy, while Garrett is afraid that Megan will attempt to rescue Kathy prematurely and tip his hand.

Both Megan and Garrett are realistic, believable characters, and their pursuit of the drug dealer held my interest, even though some of the details struck me as unlikely. The sexual chemistry between Megan and Garrett sizzled, but otherwise I found them ho-hum. Realistic and believable dialogue can also be unexciting dialogue, and their interchanges tended to be pedestrian. Perhaps there is a reason behind the romance convention that requires the hero and heroine to be polar opposites.

For the most part, Ferrarella writes admirably straight-forward, unobtrusive prose that is easy to read. She has one stylistic tic that she should be able to cure easily. She changes point-of-view far too frequently. Shortly after they meet, Megan and Garrett have a lengthy conversation. This conversation had so many changes of point-of-view (six on one page, 17 over the four pages that I counted) that I felt like I was at a tennis match, my head turning every time the ball bounced. This detracts from the story, focusing the reader on the mechanics rather than the content.

A Forever Kind of Hero is part of a series about ChildFinders, Inc., the agency where Megan Andreini is a partner. Both her partners, Sam Waters and Cade Townsend, make token appearances in this book, appearances so brief I didn't get much of an impression of either character. Apparently Sam Walters’ story has already been told, but we have Cade Townsend’s to look forward to. Cade, one-quarter Cherokee, one-quarter Navaho, could be an attractive hero. I just hope Ferrarella matches him with an exciting romantic interest.

As for A Forever Kind of Hero, this book is a pleasant but unexciting read. If the problems of runaways and stolen children have great resonance for you, it might even be more than that.

--Nancy J. Silberstein


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