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It Takes A Hero
by Gina Wilkins
(Harl. Tempt. #729, $3.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-25829-1
****
Years ago Gina Wilkins wrote a three-book series about heroes, books that turned me onto this talented author. Books like It Takes a Hero keep bringing me back.

Get out your checkbook. It's time to buy another fine specimen from The Bachelor Auction. Bachelor #41, Perry Goodman, is a prime example of romance heroes. He's gorgeous, drips sex appeal and is a genuinely nice guy. A political strategist, his high bidder will be accompanying him to one of the biggest, most exclusive political fund-raiser galas of the season, with the next day's activities a surprise.

The sponsor of the auction, Heart Books, will be donating the proceeds to literacy groups. Perry is just hoping that the woman who 'buys' him won't be expecting more fantasy than reality. If he only knew that he's being bought by a romance author to help her break her writer's block.

Romance novelist Kristin Cole is suffering from a serious writer's block and although there are several reasons why she's at the bachelor auction, the main reason is to get away from her blank computer screen. Watching her mother make the high bid on a 'delicious-looking man', Kristin decides she'll bid, too. Seeing Perry Goodman on the stage literally stuns her. This man is a Romance Hero. Maybe he's just what she needs. Maybe he'll inspire her as she tries to breathe life into her fictitious hero.

Kristen has just gotten out of a bad relationship and is leery of becoming involved with Perry. For once it was easy to empathize with the heroine on this one. Perry is suave, self-assured, principled and almost too much for mere mortals. What he does have in his favor is persistence. He's smitten with this woman who often goes into 'trances' and writes furiously in her writer's notebook. It's also nice to see a man who is uncertain as to a woman's feelings.

Ms. Wilkins has added authentic situations which give a strong touch of realism. When Perry makes a gaffe and asks Kristin, "Do you think you'll ever write a real book?", I cringed for him and for Kristin. It is comforting to hear Perry defend Kristin's occupation later in the story. When Perry does finally discover what's been bothering Kristin, he finds an ingenious way to help her overcome her writer's block. Without giving away any secrets, be prepared to look at Perry through a kinder, gentler filter.

There's more realism as we're given a peek into a writer's life. Calls from other writers who needed help added authenticity, as did the solitary time spent at the computer. Checking e-mail was a nifty idea, too. Probably the details of Perry's life are also authentic. It seemed so. One scene is wonderful as we get a glimpse of one of the interminable dinners that he attends. He took a bite of his dinner and had to make a massive effort not to shudder. "Yum," he murmured. "Rubber duckie l'orange. Again."

Heroes come in all sizes and shapes. Gina Wilkins has introduced us to one who's outwardly gorgeous, but much more important, perfect where it counts . . . his heart.

--Linda Mowery


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