Only a Hero Will Do

Susan Lodge
Only a Hero Will Do
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Crooked Cat Publishing
Release Date
July 2012
Historical Romance, Medical Romance, Romantic Suspense/Mystery

Hetty's desperate gamble to avoid an odious match lands her all at sea. Can an overbearing ship's physician really be the hero she needs to escape her treacherous family?

Marriage to a cruel dandy is not how Hetty Avebury envisions spending the rest of her life. Determined to raise funds to escape the match she earns money the only way she knows how—gambling. Her plans go astray and she finds herself onboard a man-of-war under the care of its stern physician. But Hetty soon realizes that the disapproving Doctor Withington is not at all the man she had first imagined.

If it wasn't bad enough declaring one of the pressed men as a woman, Robert has been tasked with the tiresome job of returning her safely back to her dysfunctional family. It was ten years ago when his father gambled away his inheritance, home, and any chance of marrying the woman he loved. So when Robert discovers Hetty gambling he takes drastic action to cure her of the habit.

Book Review by Barb Taub (author)
Dec 13, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
191 people found the following review helpful
Okay, I admit it. I grew up on Georgette Heyer and those old-fashioned heroes get me every time. Even with the sneaking suspicion that if I lived in those days, I'd be far more likely to be the kitchen maid than the heiress in danger, I'm a sucker for those dark, brooding (titled, of course!) heroes. And if the author takes the usual setting and puts a different spin on the story, I've hit the jackpot.

At first, Hetty Avebury seems the typical plucky gothic heroine. Victorian-era matrimonial decisions, at least for the upper classes, were based at least as much on financial considerations as personal attraction. But even for that time, Hetty's family seems callously bent on forcing her into a distasteful marriage. Hetty has a forbidden weapon though, and she uses her gambling skills to try to amass enough money to escape her fate.

Unfortunately, her male disguise doesn't save her from the notorious press gangs that kidnap unwary men to staff naval vessels. On board, her secret is soon discovered and she's assigned to the dismayed protection of the ship's surgeon. Hetty needs a hero, but what she gets is a disapproving, stiff guardian whose only goal is to return her to her family.

Doctor Withington has secrets of his own, and a particular disgust for the gambling that ruined his father and destroyed his family.

This book is just so much fun! Author Susan Lodge turns the tables on traditional historical romances with Hetty, the proper Victorian miss who doesn't hesitate to fight and scheme for her own happiness, and with Robert Withington, the unwilling hero who has to overcome his reluctance to return her to the family who have betrayed her.

I give this book four stars for humor, great settings, and unexpected roles. The settings were exceptionally well-done, from the Victorian parlor to the even more stratified social levels aboard the ship. And instead of some improbable skill like being superb with sword or gun, Hetty's skill with cards seems like a possibility.

Another aspect I particularly appreciated was that even the villains were more three-dimensional. Instead of flat black-and-white evil versus good, there was a range of human faults on both sides that gave depth and reality to the characters, good and bad.

ONLY A HERO WILL DO is a fun read for anyone who likes the genre but appreciates a different twist. It's told with affection, humor, and unexpected developments that won't disappoint. I found myself rooting for both characters. They are both heroes who will do.
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