Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Before I could think of a way to start, Ella spoke again. ‘I had hardly anyone for a long time. So making claims…’ [Gourdain:] ‘Touches on something deep down and broken. I know exactly how you feel.’”
In one word, Gourdain. That is really all you need to know about Jolie Vines’s newest book, Hero. Hero is the third book in her Marry the Scots series, and, thus far, it is this reader’s favorite.
This book begins with a moment from Vines’s second book, Love Most, Say Least (by the way, another great book in this series), when Gourdain, James’s (the hero from LMSL) best friend and a military pilot, saves James’s sister, Ella, from their raving uncle. From the moment, there is a driving, intense chemistry between the two. However, there are a couple of issues: (1) Ella is his best friend’s sister and (2) Ella is younger than Gourdain (her 17 to his 22). For most of the first part of this story, these two engage in the unrequited dance of chemistry, as Ella doubts that Gourdain could be attracted to her and Gourdan struggles with a personal crisis and issues related to this past (not to mention his worry over her age). However, as in any good romance, that dance turns into something more, and the two must make a choice about their future together.
Gourdain. For me, he is the highlight of this book. He is handsome (always a plus), a sexy Scottish Highlander (who doesn’t love a man in a kilt), ruggedly capable in most situations (he seems to save everyone), and he’s broken, the hallmark of a well-written hero (at least to me). Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Ella’s character in this book. She has a wisdom and grit about her that it never really feels like you are reading a 17/18-year-old heroine. She easily matches Gourdain, who also has a worldliness about him. But it’s Gourdain’s struggle with himself that provides the true depth to this book. He can be frustrating at times because he makes choices counter to his heart, and it causes issues between him and Ella. However, he comes to the rescue when it’s needed and redeems himself within the story. He’s kind, broody, so sexy, and incredibly capable, even when he wraps himself in his head. If you love swoony, broken heroes, then you absolutely need to read Hero.
Ella and Gourdain are very much alike, even though they don’t see it initially. Yes, there is an age difference and potential issue as Gourdain is Ella’s brother’s best friend. Yet, Vines doesn’t write the “forbidden best friend’s sister” trope here. She only teases at it. Instead, this story is one about overcoming one’s past to find one’s future. Ella and Gourdain are alike in that they have been seeking after love, deprived them by the “father figures” in their life. Both have had to grow up quickly in the absence of love and care, and this causes brokenness that is only found whole in each other. For me, this revelation is the beauty of Vines’s story and the reason that it sits currently as my favorite of this series. Two broken parts coming together makes for an angsty, heartwarming romance.
Thankfully, there are two more forthcoming books in this series, of which I cannot wait to read. Jolie Vines is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors because she creates heroes whose angst comes from within, but it doesn’t keep them from loving the heroine of the story. Oftentimes, authors create too much tension between the hero and heroine in the rising action of a romance, and, for me, it seems unnecessary, as there are other areas where complexity can be built into the story. A hero denying his love for most of the story can be as much an overwrought trope as a specific genre of romance. But this is not the impression derived from Vines’s stories. She allows the hero to love the heroine, to be consumed by them. The strife comes from outside the relationship, and the hero and heroine fight together as a couple against it. This is the power of Vines’s story-telling, and it’s the reason that you should read her books, namely Hero.
“Instead, we were two souls taking refuge together. Handing over our hearts for the other to store. Our hands shaking and breath catching. Testing the edges of the new us and all the pleasure that would bring.”
In love and romance,