Maria's Reviews > The Ideal Man

The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood
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Sep 05, 11

bookshelves: romance
Read from August 14 to 15, 2011

Once upon a time I was a huge Julie Garwood fan and read everything she wrote with joyful abandon. It's these feelings that keep me buying her books even though I wish they would release fewer of them in hardcover; so many of her books in recent years have been mass market paperbacks posing as hardcovers, and this latest novel is no exception. I still read Garwood with joyful abandon, but over the years her stories have become increasingly clichéd, which has reduced them to mindless entertainment.

The Ideal Man intoduces Dr. Ellie Sullivan, a prodigy who has completed her surical residency at an incredibly young age (and a good thing too, or the time to have a romance would be over before it ever started!) Ellie's talents are widely abused by her chief of staff, a misogynistic old man who rides his entire staff into the ground, and Ellie's only relief can be found the long runs she takes before heading back to her empty and sparsely furnished appartment. One morning she is on a run after yet another long shift when she becomes a witness to an FBI shootout and has to be taken into protective custody.

FBI agent Max Daniels is the agent assigned to Ellie's detail, and he quickly discovers that this isn't Ellie's first brush with danger. When Ellie was only 12 she was stalked and assaulted by an older teen, an act that resulted in her removal from home and a new residence with foster parents. This has left her unable to enter into a personal relationship and afraid for her life even though the perpetrator has been jailed since. Ellie has never emotionally recovered and she lives in fear for her life as a virtual prisoner in her home when she isn't at work. Max doesn't need much of an excuse to go into alpha male protective mode, and he immediately swoops into her life and begins giving orders and telling her to come with him if she wants to live. (Ok, I exaggerate, but really...that's pretty much what he does.)

Max thinks Ellie's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, and he's extremely respectful of her intelligence and what she has accomplished, but he's also powerfully sexually attracted to her. This prompts him to tell her that he respects her, and he wants to sleep with her, but they can't have anything long term. Strong and resilient Ellie, who has lived an emotionally protected life, suddnely decides this is ok and agrees to a short term relationship with the studly Max.

But then Ellie gets guilt-tripped into visiting the family she's barely spent any time with since her childhood tragedy in order to be in her sister's wedding. Oh, yeah, her sister is marrying Ellie's ex-fiancee who jumped into bed with her sister during Ellie's last visit home. Ellie's family comes across as anything but loving, and between the criminals gunning for her, the stalker who has just been released from the mental facility, and a very complicated family dynamic it's a wonder this poor girl doesn't collapse into a weeping puddle!

This is where Ideal Man really suffers: There are just too many storylines, and none of the villains ever really develop as a real threat. If anything, the true villains of this book are Ellie's hopeless family, none of whom can seem to understand the upheaval and chaos she has to endure because of an event she had no control over. Max is the only character who really understands this, and he spends most of the book telling her that he's going to leave her as soon as his assignment is done.

I liked this story, and I read it in a matter of a few hours, but there are simply too many plot twists and not enough development of the hero for this book to become a favorite (or possibly even memorable). I still love Julie Garwood, and I'll likely buy the next book she releases, but I hope that it has better character and plot development than The Ideal Man.
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