Local Hero, by Nora Roberts

>> Friday, February 23, 2007

Local Hero is an old Nora Roberts Silhouette Special Edition from 1988.

book coverWho was that masked man...?

When Mitch Dempsey appeared in Hester Wallace's doorway bearing gifts, she knew she should beware. She'd just moved and didn't need trouble in the form of an all-too-attractive downstairs neighbor. Her nine-year-old son had no such qualms. When he discovered Mitch was the creator of his favorite comic book hero, he was sold.

Though Mitch was no Superman Hester made him as if he could leap tal buildings in a single bound. But could he convince her she needed a hero to call her own?
I read a few reviews at Amazon before I bought Local Hero, and the consensus seemed to be that it was a bit blah and boring, with not enough plot to carry the story. Now, I've loved some of NR's old categories, but I do feel that a few of them (like many of those that have been reissued in those 2-in-1 books) are very unremarkable and dated, so I wasn't expecting much when I started this one.

Well, I was very pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's character-driven and with no external plot whatsoever, and yet, it's not boring in the least. It's sweet and heart-warming, and yet not at all sugary or mawkish. Just a wonderful romance. A B+.

Not much plot means that I can do my summary in a few words: one of the first people Hester Wallace and her nine-year-old son Radley meet when they move into a new appartment is their Mitch Dempsey. Mitch is immediately attracted to Hester, and he likes Radley very much, too, but Hester has some issues related to her ex-husband's abandonment, so she's a bit stand-offish. However, it turns out that Mitch writes the Commander Zark comics, and Radley loves Commander Zark, so it won't be so easy for Hester to ignore the guy.

So all we get here is Mitch overcoming Hester's reservations and developing a loving relationship with Radley. No stalkers, no murders, no vampires, not even a secret baby, a cowboy or a SEAL. In short, no distractions from two appealing characters falling in love with each other.

And Mitch, especially, is very appealing. He's got this boyishly charming thing going on, but it's soon very clear that this is a mature grown-up, no matter how immature Hester first thinks his career choices are. I just love NR's sweet good guys. Mitch reminded me a little bit of Declan, from Midnight Bayou, who is one of my faves.

As for Hester, who at first I thought might turn out to be one of those "A man hurt my feelings once, so I'll never, ever look at a man again", she ends up being an interesting, relatable character. I liked the way her history with her ex was dealt with, and I thought her issues with it were understandable and given the perfect weight.

I even loved Radley, and I'm not usually someone who likes kids in my romance novels. But Radley was just incredibly adorable, to my surprise. There are a few scenes narrated from his point of view, and I wanted to reach into the book and hug him. And it's not just me: I gave this book to my sister (who actually stayed up until 4 in the morning to finish it), and after reading for half an hour she said she wanted to adopt Radley.

Oh, and Mitch's career, writing the Commander Zark stories? Fascinating. I might have liked an even more in-depth view into what was involved in creating them, but what we get here is very interesting. I'd love to read some of those, though at least I do have an idea of what Commander Zark looks like, since the first page of the book is a cute drawing of him, done by Dan (who, I'm guessing, is probably one of NR's sons). Heh, when she first opened the book, sis came up to me and asked "Just what is the meaning of this?". Not a very adventurous reader, my sister. I had to reassure her that the hero of the book wasn't a superhero in a cape (which, actually, sounds pretty good to me *g*).

PS - As a side note: I realized as I was reading this that it's the first time I remember reading a romance novel in which the heroine is raising a child in an appartment building in the city (the first time that the heroine isn't in a desperately bad money situation, which forces her to do it, that is), and that got me thinking. As far as romance novels are concerned, it seems as if most Americans think children should be raised in a big house, if not in the countryside, in the suburbs. Would you say this is correct? Even Hester, in this book, has a dream of moving to a big house in the country so that Radley can have a yard in which to play with his dog, etc. It's very different to what I'm used to. I was raised in an appartment in the city, and so were many of my friends, and we were all in comfortable situations, financially, so it wasn't at all that there was no other choice. It was just one of the normal, regular choices parents could make without feeling their children should have something different. I'm not sure what my point is here, I guess I just found the difference between the American dream and the Uruguayan dream interesting.


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