By Robyn Carr
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Devon McAllister never imagined herself captivated by a charismatic cult leader, but that’s exactly what happened. But she’s fully aware now that this place is not where she belongs, and when an opportunity opens to escape the compound with her three-year-old daughter Mercy, she gratefully takes it. With only a backpack filled by those who helped her escape and a few dollars in cash from the same source, Devon and Mercy have been walking down a highway for eight hours with no destination in mind other than a highway number when Rawley Goode spots them and offers them a ride as far as Thunder Point.
Rawley recognizes Devon as being from the Fellowship by her dress and hairstyle. He has seen members at their roadside produce stand: “Beautiful, young, smiling softspoken women apparently watched over by big, silent men who were clearly in charge.” He has been on the receiving end of charity often enough to want to pass it on, and clearly Devon needs help. Along with the assurance that he’s never seen anyone from the Fellowship in Thunder Point or its immediate environs, he offers Devon and her daughter plenty of food, a safe place to stay, and a new identity as the daughter and granddaughter of his second cousin. Rawley’s looks don’t predispose someone to view him as trustworthy, but Devon remembers her error in judgment when she trusted a man who did look as if he could be trusted. When Rawley buys a car seat for Mercy during a Wal-Mart run, Devon decides that she can trust him to offer exactly what he proposes and no more.
Spencer Lawson is also a newcomer to Thunder Point. Recently named Athletic Director and coach at the local high school, he hasn’t even found a place to rent as a home for him and his ten-year-old son, Austin. For the time being, they are living in Hank Cooper’s fifth wheel and enjoying life on the bay with Cooper’s place handy for meals. It also gives Austin more time with Cooper, his newly discovered biological father.Spencer senses Devon’s vulnerability at first sight and feels drawn to protect her, to offer her a refuge.
The warmth and friendliness of Thunder Point gives Devon the feeling that she’s found a home. Soon she even has a job she loves, and Rawley in fact is becoming the family he claims to be. When the attraction between her and Spencer blossoms from just friendship to include romantic love, she dares to dream of forever, but Spencer has baggage of his own. A widower with painful memories of his wife’s long, heartbreaking illness, he is leery of opening himself to more hurt. And Devon has grown strong enough to refuse to settle for less than all she deserves.
I freely admit that I am an unabashed Carr fan, one who has read and reread all her Grace Valley and Virgin River books and expects to do so again. I think The Hero is an excellent addition to Carr’s oeuvre. I thought Devon was a wonderful heroine, one who moves from near helplessness and dependence to strength and independence in a believable manner. I found Spencer an essentially likeable character, despite moments when I wanted to throw rotten tomatoes at him. The title suggests a single hero, but both Devon and Spencer act heroically, and the aged, cards-close-to-his-chest Rawley is a hero from beginning to end. His character is my favorite part of the book.
I loved that Carr allows us to see the HEAs in progress of other characters. Mac and Gina are enjoying married life. Sarah and Cooper are headed toward a wedding. For fans of the younger contingent, Landon and Eve are as in love as ever, and things are progressing nicely with Ashley and her adorable nerd Frank. Ashley’s biological father, Eric Gentry, is paired with undercover FBI agent, Laine Carrington, in the next Thunder Point book, The Chance (February 2014). I can’t wait to see their story play out and to revisit old friends.
The Hero is the third book in Carr’s Thunder Point series, following The Wanderer and The Newcomer. It has the strong, supportive community, the stable of characters who are family and friends, and the credible conflicts that are resolved on the way to happily-ever after that have become the trademarks of Carr’s books. If you are a fan of Carr’s or if you have never read Carr’s books but like novels that offer slices of life in an idyllic, picturesque small town where most people soon know not only your name but much of your business, I highly recommend this book.
The Hero made me freshly aware that my favorite heroines are women who are strong enough to do things on their own when they can but are smart enough to accept help when they need it. What characteristics do your favorite heroines share?