Harvard's Education, by Suzanne Brockmann

>> Thursday, October 28, 2004

Reading Suzanne Brockmann's Get Lucky, one of my two favourites in the TDD series, made me want to reread my other favourite, Harvard's Education. So I just did...

As a Navy SEAL, Harvard had seen his share of trainees before, but PJ Richards managed to pack more fire in her five-foot-two-inch body than all the men he’d ever worked with. And he couldn’t help hoping for some more personal contact.

One thing always-in-control PJ Richards couldn’t afford to do was let herself get sidetracked. Not now, when her goal was finally within reach. Unfortunately so was Harvard -- every hard-muscled, pure-male, irresistible inch of him...
It was an A-, and I don't know if I can decide which I liked best, this one or Get Lucky. Of course, the cover on this one is miles better!

The characters and romance are wonderful. I really liked PJ. She's one strong heroine, sure of her worth and used to fighting for what she wants. She's got some strong defenses Harvard has to go through, but this never feels like just a plot device to increase conflict, simply something integral to her character. In fact, she's a virgin, and this is much, much better explained than it usually is in other romance novels. It's not used as a way of saying she's pure and innocent and virtuous, it's simply something that says a lot about what her life was like as a child, and it makes sense for the person she is. Her attitude towards it also feels right... this is not what she set out to do, but now that she's waited so long, she's going to make sure that when she finally does it, it's not just a throwaway moment.

I loved Harvard. Big and strong and very, very intelligent, he was a sweety. I especially liked to see him with his parents. The way that family was portrayed was great.

I have to say, I don't usually enjoy books in which the heroine has to deal with sexism. It's an issue that makes me so horribly angry, that even a good resolution of it is sometimes not enough to compensate. Plus, if some of the sexism the heroine has had to face came from the hero, well, let's say I find that very hard to forgive. Here, Brockmann manages to deal with the issue in a way that worked for me. Harvard does have some qualms about PJ's abilities and whether a woman will be able to do what has to be done. However, this is a man who is very intellectually honest. He's not afraid of questioning his assumptions, and he's perfectly willing to see that he might have been making a mistake. He doesn't try to fit new facts to his prejudices, but fits his worldviews to the facts, even if this means he has to change his mind, and I have to respect that.

Harvard and PJ's relationship was wonderfully done, especially the way it proceeded so very gradually. PJ doesn't like Harvard very much at first, and he, while very attracted to her, has some doubts about her abilities. I loved how they slowly change their perceptions as they start getting to know each other, how Harvard comes to respect and like PJ, and how she realizes he's not the pig she'd made him out to be in her mind. They become friends before becoming involved more intimately, and the whole progression felt lovely and so natural. And speaking of their more intimate involvement, Brockmann is a genius in this area. Her love scenes and the way she creates sexual tension are perfect.

The plot was just right, too. Most of the book, while PJ and Harvard's relationship is still developing, is just the day to day of training. The focus is squarely on the romance, and what little plot there is simply serves to enhance it. The action plot intensifies on the last part of the book, and still serves to further advance the romance. There's a scene there, while they're waiting for the sun to set before starting a mission, that could have come across as melodramatic, but is lovely and sweet instead.

As for negatives, hmmm, maybe I would have preferred that the Navy Seal rah-rah-rah stuff be toned down a little. Maybe it's just that I've already read all of her books, but I really don't need a lecture on how Navy Seals are the best and can do anything and blah, blah, blah. But that's really just a minor irritant, nothing that bothered me too much.

Reading my two favourites of the series has made me want to reread all the others, something I haven't done in ages. There's bound to be some massive rereading in my future!

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