As any romantic suspense reader worth her salt will tell you, some branches of law enforcement get more love than others when it comes time for hero building. But thanks to the magic of blogging, this reader can and will build her own all-star team of romantic suspense heroes. A team representing more than just the most popular branches of law enforcement. Because what are all-star teams for if not to give recognition to those players who toil tirelessly on the field, but don’t always get the glory they deserve?
First up, it’s the time-honored position of sheriff. Let’s face it, there are a LOT of heroes to choose from here. There’s just something intoxicating about a man who oversees a small town with a fair hand and a gruff smile. I can think of several off the top of my head, including Jack Bowman of Laura Griffin’s Thread of Fear, and Zack Todd of Nora Roberts’ Dance Upon the Air. Though I had a hard time choosing, I went with another Nora Roberts hero for this role. I’ve chosen Sheriff Cameron Rafferty, of Roberts’ 1992 classic, Divine Evil. Bad boy turned good guy, Cam is the perfect foil to sculptor heroine Clare Kimball. And when it looks like someone (or some people) mean Clare harm, Cam makes one helluva protector.
Another member of law enforcement who gets a lot of attention is the homicide detective. Thanks to the popularity of the murder mystery I think. I’ve got several favorites in this category, including Marc Chastain from Linda Howard’s Kill and Tell and Nathan Deveraux from Laura Griffin’s Untraceable. But my heart belongs to another hero altogether, a cop who hails from a family of cops, a hero who is a shrewd detective as well as smokin’ hot: Chicago PD Homicide Detective Aidan Reagan, hero of You Can’t Hide by Karen Rose. From the moment he smolders onto the scene, the reader knows that Aidan Reagan is going to be a tough nut to crack. He’s got definite opinions about his heroine, Dr. Tess Ciccotelli, and they aren’t good. And yet, when it comes down to it, Aidan is fair and when he realizes that he was wrong about her, he’s man enough to admit it. And when he realizes someone is out to harm Tess, well, let’s just say he takes her protection very seriously.
The FBI doesn’t always come across in the best light in real life. But in fiction, there is no limit to the amount of awesomeness this arm of the United States federal government can achieve. And do the FBI heroes ever know how to fill out a suit! Again, here, I had to turn aside some of my all time favorites, including Leslie Parrish’s Black Cats, and Suzanne Brockmann’s Max Bhagat. But my heart belongs to a new agent: Luke Dante, the hero of Cynthia Eden’s Deadly Fear. A new romance hero with an old school feel, Dante isn’t afraid to give punishing kisses to his heroine. But he’s also not afraid to let her, fellow agent Monica Davenport, take the lead when necessary. These two are partners in the true sense of the word, and it’s Dante’s ability to be protective without being overbearing that makes him such a dish.
Maybe it’s because we’re not quite sure what being a CIA agent entails, but despite the popularity of James Bond and Jack Bauer, romantic suspense isn’t exactly teeming with CIA agent heroes. Fortunately for me, the only one I can recall happens to be one of my favorite heroes: retired CIA agent, Matt Callahan, hero of Geralyn Dawson’s Never Say Never. Once upon a time, he saved Torie Bradshaw’s bacon, and all he got to show for it was a gunshot wound. Matt has reasons for disliking Torie, but what I love about him is that despite his misgivings about her, he does what needs to be done to protect her life. Because it’s the right thing to do. What’s not to love?
And finally, we come to the least represented of all law enforcement heroes, though I’m not sure just why. It seems to me that U.S. Marshals could give any of the other hero types a run for their money. After all, Marshals are the ones who (Tommie Lee Jones style) hunt down fugitives. They’re also the ones who oversee all those Witness Protection folks (thank you, In Plain Sight). And they also provide security to the federal courts. Maybe because they are an enforcement agency rather than an investigative agency, they don’t get to play romantic suspense hero very often. But when they do, as Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride does in Pamela Clare’s Breaking Point…? Katie, bar the door, because this Marshal brings the sexy. He also brings the heroism and the courage as he endures countless cruelties and tortures at the hands of a Mexican drug cartel, and spirits investigative reporter Natalie
Dupree Benoit out of Mexico with little more than a shoelace and a wad of gum. Okay, I exaggerate a bit, but just a bit. How could she possibly resist falling in love with him?
So, there you have it, this reader’s Top Cop All-Stars. Who would you name to your team? Can you think of any law enforcement agencies I’ve left out? Tell me about them! Inquiring minds want to know!
Manda Collins has been reading mysteries since her first Nancy Drew at the age of six. An academic librarian by day, by night she writes historical romance blended with mystery for St. Martin’s Press. Her first book, How to Dance with a Duke, is scheduled for release in February, 2012. To learn more, check out her webpage or follow her on Twitter @MandaCollins.