‘Hero Duty’ – I loved the premise in this title. Jessica Trove’s outnumbered, intimidated and desperately in need of a ‘hero’ by her side as she faces her ‘enemies’ in the family business – Sergeant Brodie Carlton is the guy to fill that ‘hero’ role. The problem is that Brodie and Jessica are a mismatch from the start. Brodie’s a laid back, down-to-earth, surfer type who takes life as it comes. Jessica is his polar opposite: somewhat highly-strung, academically gifted and a reluctant captain of industry. Yet right from the beginning, Brodie is the one who you sense has it all. Although he’s asset poor, he knows exactly who he is and what he wants out of life – he needs no one to define him. Jessica, on the other hand, is lost; torn between wanting to hide away from her responsibilities within the family business and her need to do the right thing for the mother and grandfather she lost years before.
Although the time frame in this story is quite short, the depth of Jessica’s transformation and slow fall into love with Brodie feels unhurried and authentic. His character dominates the story because it’s only through his strength that Jessica will find her place in the world and her own sense of identity. In fact, the title of this book seems almost a bit tongue in cheek, initially conjuring up an image of Sir Galahad carrying a helpless damsel in distress off into the sunset. The irony is that Brodie has little to no ‘Sir Galahad’ male ego invested in his role as Jessica’s hero and he has no interest in seeing her remain helpless. He also knows that empowering Jessica means that he might lose her, and yet he does it anyway. For me, this was the essence of Brodie’s ‘hero duty’: right up until the end, it was all about him being all about her – loved it!