TBR Challenge: “The Unsung Hero” By Suzanne Brockmann

20 May


Info: TBR Challenge 2009
Theme for the month: “unrequited love” or “friends to lovers”
In my TBR pile since: November 2002

Brockmann, Suzanne - Unsung Hero
Genre: Romance / Contemporary
Published: Ivy Books, 2000

Series: “Troubleshooter” series, #1

Availability: still available

Monthly theme?: Tom and Kelly grew up as neighbors and friends
Why I bought this novel: I actually can’t remember; probably because it got good reviews

The back blurb:

“After a near-fatal head injury, Navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a terrifying glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. When he calls for help, the navy dismisses the danger as injury-induced imaginings. In a desperate, last-ditch effort to prevent disaster, Tom creates his own makeshift counterterrorist team, assembling his most loyal officers, two elderly war veterans, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton — the sweet “girl next door” who has grown into a remarkable woman. The town’s infamous bad boy, Tom has always longed for Kelly. Now he has one final chance for happiness, one last chance to win her heart, and one desperate chance to save the day….”

The Unsung Hero has at least four plots: three romances – Tom and Kelly, a love triangle in the past, Tom’s niece and a geek – and the terrorist plot. If you want, you could probably count Kelly’s attempt to (re)connect with her dying father as a fifth plot. Of the three romances, the main romance is the one between Tom and Kelly. But it only takes a slight precedence over the other two. The terrorist plot is rather in the background of the story. It’s only near the end that there is the kind of action you probably associate with it. For much of the novel, Tom isn’t really sure if there’s a threat at all or if his mind is playing tricks on him.


  • that Tom didn’t realize why the terrorist was in town. I knew it right away and I couldn’t believe it that Tom wouldn’t know it – or at least have a hunch – as well with his training and background. This screamed plot reasons.
  • Kelly’s dedication to her patient. As a doctor, especially a highly successful and sought-after doctor, you have many patients and I just couldn’t believe that she had the time to spend repeatedly several hours with just one patient and her parents. This screamed ploy to make her confirm to romance heroine standards (although, yes, it also provided a different facet to the themes of living/dying/illness).

In fact, there is a lot of mirroring and contrasting going on in this story. For me, the strong points of this novel are definitely its style of writing and its exploration of the themes love, friendship, living and dying, and heroism. Each plot has in some way to do with these themes and together, they paint a rather complex picture.

The Unsung Hero is a well written and well plotted novel. Juggling four plots and giving them all rather equal attention is not easy. I’m really impressed how Brockmann handled all the plots and made them all come together at the end. But – and that’s the “weakness” of this novel for me – because of the many plots, I was less invested than I could have been in this novel and its characters.

My favorite romance was the one between Tom’s niece Mallory and the geek David. I loved Mallory’s voice:

What a surprise. It was the geek of last night past, come here to her place of employment to haunt her by rattling his pocket protector. (83)

Mallory’s and David’s romance is a very sweet story of falling in love for the first time.

Of course, the reader gets to see Tom’s and Kelly’s beginnings, too. Their history is told in flashbacks. These flashbacks play with the “bad boy/good girl/friends attraction.” I thought the way they were incorporated into the novel was well done, but while there are many flashbacks, they are more like short memories sparked by something that happens in the present and just a few sentences or paragraphs long rather than longer passages of text.

Each of the romances has some heart-wrenching moments and all have the potential for a really great romance. But put together like in this novel – while skillfully done – I was awfully tempted to skim ahead to continue reading my favorite plot line, diminishing my enjoyment of the whole novel. So while I appreciate the number of plots, this time, less would have been more for me.

Verdict: The Unsung Hero is one of the novels I think of as a very good novel. But it’s also one of the novels I’m rather sure I won’t read again because of my impression that each romance could have been better on its own. If not for this challenge, I don’t think I would have finished it so fast because despite all its strong points, it was easy for me to stop reading it. Actually, I’m not sure I’ll continue with reading this series because – as far as I know – all novels in this series have multiple story lines. 4,5/5


5 Responses to “TBR Challenge: “The Unsung Hero” By Suzanne Brockmann”

  1. nath Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    My favorite romance was Mallory and David as well!! I just love this couple, they are so cute… and first love, sigh 🙂 Who can resist!

    Me, I thought that there were too many plotlines. This one was okay though… but all of her books are like that and in the end, it becomes annoying.

  2. Taja Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    Nath – hi! Yes, Mallory and David are very cute together. And their first time… ahhh! 🙂

    On an abstract/intellectual level, I really appreciated the many plots and Brockmann’s way of dealing with them. But at the same time, they were too many to make them all realize their potential, IMO, which left me rather dissatisfied on the emotional level.

    Thanks for confirming my impression that the other books in this series follow the same pattern. 🙂

  3. Tracy Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    I have to agree – Mallory and David were the best. I did like the flashbacks though and that story line.

    While there was a lot of jumping from story line to story line in this book, which is common in this series I really enjoyed the book. Well written and her characters are fabulous. So far I’ve enjoyed the whole series.

    Great review Taja!

  4. Taja Friday, May 22, 2009 at 9:52 am #

    Tracy – thanks!

    Yes, I agree, it’s a well written book hence my grade. I wanted to acknowledge that. Otherwise it would have been a 4 out of 5.

    I’m actually really puzzled why the multiple story lines bothered me in this novel. For example, I usually enjoy novels by Eloisa James and she always (?) has more than one story line going in her novels. Maybe it is because I saw so much potential for the individual romances that I felt kinda cheated with this one. *shrug*

    I might has written I won’t continue with this series but such statements change pretty fast with me. *g* After all, I really did enjoy the two category novels I read by Brockmann.


  1. Books And Games 2009 « Books and Games - Thursday, December 31, 2009

    […] the appeal but which still didn’t end up on my favorite list, like Suzanne Brockmann’s The Unsung Hero for example. I read some books by authors I’ve already read. I read some books whose authors […]

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