Having read It's Love, Dude by Jenny Schwartz last year, and rating it in my top five most enjoyable reads, I was very happy to take up the offer of reading an advance review copy of Hero Duty. Plus, the retro cover is so very cute!
Hero Duty involves the story of Brodie (surfer Zane's brother from It's Love, Dude) and starts out in Jardin Bay, where the lovely Molly and Zane's book is also largely set. In some respects, Jardin Bay is such a beautiful West Australian fictional setting, I was a little sad to leave the town for the big smoke of Sydney, where most of Hero Duty is set.
Jessica enlists Brodie to be her 'hero' as he has previously assisted a friend who was subject to discrimination in the armed forces. Brodie was a sergeant in the army and in the act of supporting his female army colleague, found himself on the outer in that most male of environments. So he quit the armed forces and is trying to establish a business rebuilding vintage cars. (The opening scene that establishes all this is one of my favourites).
Brodie makes a great hero. He is protective, supportive, encouraging of Jessica and he has a hellish set of abs (which always helps a hero).
The heroine is dubbed billionaire Cinderella. She doesn't like confrontation and, after her mother and pop's deaths, all her life she’s been ridiculed and humiliated by her step-family and also her father. Jessica believes she is the cause of the accident at sea that killed her beloved mother and Pops, and she is unaware through most of her adulthood that the billions of dollars in the family's company has been bequeathed to her and not the step side of the family as they've had her believe.
It is to help her stand up to her family, and enter the business world that is the family corporation of 'Numbat', that Jessica enlists the 'hero' services of Brodie.
Jenny Schwartz writes with a lovely warmth that makes her characters very real. She weaves superb detail into her books, whether through description of Sydney Harbour, or Jardin Bay, or scents and tastes in the cooking/restaurant meals that the characters enjoy. She creates a nice tension between Brodie and Jessica, and the sex scenes are fun.
There is a scene in the book where Brodie takes Jessica on a 'weekend warrior' adventure course and it's extremely vivid — all that crawling through mud and climbing walls and swinging on monkey bars.
I had a bit of trouble with Jessica being so under the thumb that she required a 'hero' to help, and with her phobias about the ocean stemming from her parent's death. But in terms of an enjoyable weekend read with a winter fire and a glass of wine, and a few nice hot sex scenes to warm things up, this book is perfect, and it has been fun to add it to the Jenny Schwartz books that I've read.