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    Review of HOT TARGET by Suzanne Brockmann (see her website)

    Ballantine, January 2005

    Navy Seal Chief Cosmo Richter gets a call to come home to California--and away from the battle against terrorism--when his mother falls and breaks both wrists. While on leave, he takes a temporary bodyguard job with Troubleshooters Incorporated. A movie producer has been getting death threats over her plans to film a movie about the son of a right-wing hero--who just happens to have been an American WWII hero himself--and gay. The FBI and Troubleshooters set up a protection zone around the beautiful producer--Jane Mercedes Chadwick--and it's hate at first sight between the producer and the soldier.

    Jane is passionate about her movie--and about jumpstarting her career. Already, by Hollywood standards, she's a has-been. But, at 26, if she can make this movie a success, she'll have the city where she wants it. The death threats are bad news, but in Hollywood, any attention is better than being ignored. Heck, she'll even pretend to have a crush on the hunky, but way too serious, Navy Seal.

    As affection hots up between Jane and Cosmo, Jane's brother, actor Robin Chadwick, is having all sorts of problems. First, there's his crush on Jane's assistant. Then there's his drinking. Finally, there's the little issue of his sexual orientation. Robin is supposed to be playing a gay character--and he is the kind of actor who gets into his roles. Still, the attraction he feels for the gay-but-studly FBI agent goes way over the top.

    An attack puts things in perspective. Someone really is trying to kill Jane--and permanently end her plans to create a movie about the kind of tolerance that simply can't be tolerated.

    Author Suzanne Brockmann (see more reviews of novels by Brockmann) really dives into the issues of tolerance in America, while she tells two simultaneous love stories--that of Jane and Cosmo, and that of Robin and Jules. Her Navy Seals and tough bodyguards are still studly types, but they accept differences and recognize that the battle against terror is the battle to allow people to live their lives free from fear--including fear of homophobia. Considering the somewhat conservative nature of the romance industry--and many romance readers, Brockmann takes a courageous stand in this novel.

    Fortunately, it works. I liked the way Jane and Cosmo's relationship grew through conversation, through learning about one another--not that animal attraction wasn't also present. You could really believe that these two were building a relationship that would hold up through tough times. Robin Chadwick has more serious problems--problems that start with his inability to accept who he is. Certainly there is too much denial and self-hatred in the world, and Brockmann builds a powerful case for accepting yourself--and others.

    The short story at the end is a bit of a tear-jerker but shows another aspect of Brockmann's writing talent.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 2/18/05

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