I have always thought that it’s the simple pleasures that make life worth living. Sure, the big surprises and gallant gestures have an impact, but the little things make the tough times tolerable. Listening to a (your) child giggle. A warm mug of tea or hot chocolate on a cold, snowy day. Holding hands with someone you care for as you walk down the street. Curling up under a blanket with good book.
Yesterday I hit the jackpot of used books. Among them I found one of the greatest of simple pleasures: a new-to-me book by a favorite author. This phenomenon happens so rarely. You think you have dug up nearly all of the author’s back list and have their newest hardcover release on your wish list. Then suddenly, without any warning you see their name gracing the cover of an unfamiliar title. “What’s this?” you ask yourself. “Surely this is not what I think it is! A Brockmann I have yet to read? Praise Jeebus!!!”
In Hero Under Cover Annie Morgan, an archeologist specializing in authenticating European artifacts, is under suspicion for the robbery of two museums overseas She is up to her ears in work and has the FBI and CIA breathing down her neck. When a friend of the family contracts her to authenticate a gold death mask, rare in that it was made of the face of a Navaho Indian, her troubles go from bad to worse. Worried over the security of the artifact, Annie’s client hires bodyguard Pete Taylor to ensure her safety and the safety of the mask. Threatening phone calls escalate to malicious pranks, leading Pete Taylor to believe that Annie may be in danger. This real threat, and the close proximity into which it has thrown the two, causes Pete a crisis of conscience. For while Pete is working to protect Annie from the threats to her life, he is also working to uncover her involvement in the museum robberies. In all his years of undercover work for the CIA, he had never felt so drawn to a woman. Never in his life had he felt this way. Soon Pete questions what matters most: gathering the evidence needed by the CIA or protecting the woman he loves with his very life.
This is classic Brockmann. Written in 1994 before she began her Troubleshooters series, her writing shows the promise of becoming what it is today, much the way you saw it in Body Language (go read that book if you haven’t yet.) She gives us her trademark strong, passionate hero. He is slightly less Alpha than her recent men, although certainly not lacking in take charge attitude. Pete is self contained and proud, yet he does not deny to himself the existence of the feeling he has for Annie.
Annie is smart and determined. One of the things I love about Brockmann’s heroines is that (with the exception of Alyssa) most of them are realistic women. They are beautiful in the eyes of the hero, but are not described as beauty personified. While they are attractive, it is through the hero’s perception that she is found to be sexy and irresistible. Isn’t that a bit more the way love truly is? The person becomes more attractive to you as your feelings grow. The depth of their beauty is revealed through their depth of character. That is not to say that in the book, and often in real life, they were not attracted to each other from the start. Oh no, I’m not that idealistic. Pete and Annie felt and instant attraction, but both characters made choices not to act on it in the beginning. It was by knowing one another that their defenses were worn down. This also meant that the first time they made love it was exactly that, making love.
If you are a Brockmannite like me you need to find this book. If you enjoy her writing, but have been disappointed in the recent Troubleshooters installments, you need to find this book. If you have never read Brockmann... Well, you get my point. Go read this book.