Only a Hero Will Do: Susan Lodge

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.

 

One of my favorite plots of the Reg Rom variety is the masquerade…a little cross-dressing that lands the heroine into deep doo-doo.  Therefore, its no surprise that I quickly fell in love with Hetty, the minx with copper curls and a penchant for gambling.

 

She falls out of a tree into the hands of a capable physician who, much to her consternation, doesn’t get the hint to beat it.  Instead, he insists on escorting her home, into the hornet’s nest.

 

For some yet unknown reason, she is betrothed to a scoundrel of the first order.  We don’t ever learn the full depths of his depravity (perhaps mercifully), but its not hard to hate Lord Stark on first read.

 

When his lordship moves up the wedding date, desperation sets in for Hetty.  Pulling her breeches back on, Hetty makes her escape…good until she is captured by the press-gang.

 

There are lots of subplots and villanous characters, but not so over the top that its hard to believe.  The love story isn’t overblown, and the hero and heroine are truly lovable, even if the hero frowns a lot and the heroine gets herself into all kinds of scrapes.

 

The ending is sweet, with redemptions and true love blossoming from the unlikeliest of places.

 

All in all, a joy to read.  I loved the fast pace from start to finish, the funny moments, and the interesting locations.  A little pirate at heart, some of the sea-faring was a special appeal and a nice diversion from the typical drawing rooms and dinner parties of Reg Rom.  Although I thirsted for more descriptions of the ship and its activity, its hard to fault the end result of fast clip of a read.

 

Lodge is a talent, her writing effortless and smart.  Not quite a romp, more than a romance, this story is truly about redemption and family.

 

 (4.25 out of 5  Fun, sweet and funny at alternating intervals, this was a highly enjoyable, quick read with likable H/h and a cast of interesting supporting characters.  Some anachronistic leanings might off put diehard traditionalists of RegRom variety, but generally a very lovable book).

 (Mild language and subject matter may not be appropriate for all teens, but pretty darn clean with only a couple of kisses)

*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.  No other compensation was provided.

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