I overloaded on Brockmann a few years back (you can see the reviews by clicking her name tag below), but this book is a perfect reminder of why I binged in the first place. Some Kind of Hero is populated with wonderful characters from the wastrel Dingo to the leads, a blocked writer Shayla and her Navy Seal, Peter. But more than just a jumble of characters, this is a story of family, the one you’re born into and the one you choose. As part of that family, there are characters of a broad age range, all of whom have their distinct characteristics and interactions.
This book isn’t a job gone south or even an adventure that goes sideways. It’s straight up real people who get tangled up in the dark side of life.
I loved the way Shay helps Peter introduce Maddie to her real dad rather than the hostile, overbearing image she’d built up from her mother’s heavily selective storytelling. Peter had so far failed to correct this in part to protect Maddie from a tarnished version of the mother she’d just lost.
That Maddie doesn’t immediately crumble speaks to her life and character as well. She hasn’t had an easy time of things, but is used to handling whatever comes pretty much on her own. Maddie’s determined to figure this out, and while fully aware of the consequences, she’s not used to being able to ask for help.
Even how the history of Manzanar becomes a touchstone in the story shows how deep things get, and how important it is to connect with family and history. At the same time, the way things come about, and how what Maddie knew to be fact wasn’t, point to how complex family can become, often for reasons that seem nonsensical when seen from an outside perspective but carry all too much weight in the middle of it.
There is nothing simple about this story, which isn’t to say there aren’t light moments or sexy moments, because there definitely are. The connection between Shay and Pete grows right there on the page, and not just in his pants, either. The one off-note was how hard they both worked to say this wasn’t anything more than intense lust, but even there, a later reveal gives deeper meaning to the situation from Shay’s perspective and touches on another hard truth while Pete’s reluctance comes to light through Maddie. The real human element in their interactions also managed to carry me through even if they were unable to see the attraction for what it was.
I can’t forget to mention Harry. Shay’s character offers pointed, often lewd, comments and suggestions in her head that both introduce humor at key moments and give voice to what Shay can’t say on her own. Though, as her connection to Pete grows, she needs Harry less and less, so he doesn’t butt in as much.
As you might have guessed, this story covers a lot of ground. Between Manzanar and a few incidents where Shay being black and Pete white play a part, the role racism played in U.S. history and modern day is given some time. There’s the issues of drug use in high schools and how even innocents can be swept into that world all unknowing. The level of rage and revenge in the high school scene is also worth noting, but I’ll say nothing more for fear of spoilers. There was a good amount of social justice hidden in the narrative, which is cool. Telling things like they really are without stopping the story to do so.
It is also softly explicit during the sex scenes, and the language becomes so at times, sometimes bringing forth a humorous moment with kids involved.
This book succeeds in so many ways, and I’m delighted to rediscover a favorite author with such a strong demonstration of all the reasons I have enjoyed her writing.
P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.