(I don’t know if you’re going to be sorry or not. That’s on you.)
I don’t mean back like, “Julie Garwood has a new novel out.” I mean back like “Oh wait, I really like Julie Garwood.” Sometimes a favorite author hits a patch of books so not to my taste that I open them with a little sigh of resignation. It’s like a friendship you can’t quite end because the good times were so good and the bad times aren’t that bad but the lunch date isn’t something you’re excited about. This isn’t that book. This is the book that reminds you how much fun you can have together.
The Ideal Man is refreshing for what it isn’t – there’s no attempt here to reach outside of what Garwood does to reach a new audience. Julie Garwood is best at family relationships, character quirks, and books so ready to be Hallmark Hall of Fame films that they should come with a greeting card. Her books are a bowl of soup and a blankie on a miserable day. I read The Ideal Man after an intense surgery and it absolutely soothed me.
Possibly coincidence, possibly because the heroine of Sizzle was an absolute idiot, The Ideal Man features trauma surgeon Elle Sullivan as a child prodigy once driven from her home by an obsessed classmate. (You might scoff, but I jumped off the prodigy track and those kids are twisted.) Awesomely, that obsessed classmate has almost nothing at all to do with why Elle ends up needing protection from FBI Agent Max Daniels. Elle has a wonderfully self centered sister driven to say things like “Why can’t you stop ruining my parties with people trying to kill you?” Every sibling of a romantic suspense heroine should be as free to express her emotions!
Max is actually protecting Elle because she witnessed a shooting and saved a life without even getting blood in her hair. Elle rings true both as an exhausted trauma surgeon and a distanced family member. Her parents work as frustrated working folks thrust outside their comfort zone by life’s events. Her siblings are a bit trickier – but hey – I’d have problems if my parties kept bombing too. Max works both as an agent slightly outside his comfort zone and a man for whom family is foremost. Together they tell a smoothly entertaining tale for a late night read or a sunny snooze.