Shawna's Reviews > The Ideal Man

The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood
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3 ½ stars – Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Ideal Man is my first read by popular romance author Julie Garwood, which is surprising considering how many romances I've read. It's a good, not great, romantic suspense read that focuses more on the character relationships, and is therefore rather light on the suspense element.

Dr. Ellie Sullivan is a prodigy surgeon finishing her residency in the trauma center of a major urban hospital. While out running in a nearby park, she witnesses a shootout that makes her a target in need of FBI protection. So it's a good thing that rugged FBI agent Max Daniels is the perfect man for the job. Ellie's career is on the rise, and the last thing she wants is to be the star witness in a high profile FBI investigation, especially if it means drawing unwanted attention to herself and her family. A traumatic incident in Ellie's past involving a crazed stalker has forced her to stay away from her hometown and those she loves. And being sexually attracted to a rough around the edges, dominating man like Max, who's not interested in commitment and is nothing like the "Ideal Man" she's looking for is another complication she doesn't need.

Max is attracted to Ellie's beauty, intelligence, and strength as a doctor from the start and the glimpses into her caring nature intrigue him all the more. When he uncovers the painful events of her past, his protective instinct takes over and he's determined to keep her safe and stick by her side 24/7, even if it means posing as her boyfriend when she goes back to her South Carolina hometown for her sister's wedding.

Ideal Man has a very promising beginning that immediately drew me in, but it lost steam when it became more of a family drama. I started losing interest when the focus shifted from Max and Ellie to her relationship with her family, which is estranged because of past events involving one of her sisters and ex-fiancé and also the threat of her stalker. I really liked Ellie's character, and it was hard to accept her transition from strong, smart, take charge surgeon to the role of family outcast and doormat. The plot meandered too much, especially the scenes involving the wedding planning of her b*tchy, self-centered, bridezilla sister, and the drama distracted from the romance and main suspense storyline.

My main criticism is that there wasn't nearly enough insight into Max's character to make him a memorable romantic hero, which is ironic and disappointing considering the book's title "Ideal Man". There were also a few random plot points that felt somewhat disjointed. Although I enjoyed it well enough, there really isn't anything remarkable about it, and I would have liked more dialogue and heat between the H/H and a bit more action and suspense. 3 ½ stars.

I've heard wonderful things about Julie Garwood's novels, particularly her historical romances, so I'm sure this won't be the last book I'll read by this author.

I received this as an ARC galley, courtesy of

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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by MelissaB (new) - added it

MelissaB Nice review Shawna! I stopped reading her contemporaries long ago because they sucked but I heard this one was a little better.

I highly recommend trying The Secret and Honor's Splendour, they are amazing!

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish MelissaB wrote: "I highly recommend trying The Secret and Honor's Splendour, they are amazing! "

And The Prize... an all time favorite. *sigh* "Checkmate!"

message 3: by MelissaB (last edited Apr 29, 2011 04:03AM) (new) - added it

MelissaB I like The Prize (and Checkmate) but it's not a favorite like The Secret, Ransom and Honor's Splendor and Saving Grace.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish They're all so good. The Secret is probably right up there with The Prize, but The Bride and The Wedding hold a special place in my heart as they were my first ever Highlander reads.

Shawna Thanks for the recs, ladies!

message 6: by Miss Kim (new) - added it

Miss Kim Nice review! I was wondering about this one because her last few contemporaries have been just 'meh'. Looks like nothing has changed.

message 7: by Shawna (last edited Apr 30, 2011 09:04AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shawna Thanks, Kim! It was definitely 'meh' for me.

Mrs. Badass ^^ ditto ^^ sounded so good, but fell far from my expectations given the blurb.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish I'm glad I didn't pay hard cover price for it.

message 10: by ElaineY (new) - added it

ElaineY Thank you for the helpful review, Shawna. I'm with Kim on Ms Garwood - her last few contemporaries have been below par and she'd gone off my radar for a long time. I was hoping Ideal Man would be the start of a revival of old-time Romantic Suspense ala Linda Howard/Sandra Brown of old! Oh well, back to tapping my foot again:(

message 11: by Shawna (last edited Jul 30, 2011 06:04AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Shawna YW, Elaine. It was a good read, just not great, and the "romance" and "suspense" aspects were definitely disappointing. It seemed to get sidetracked with the heroine's dysfunctional relationship with her family. Luckily, I got it free as an ARC because I'd probably have been even more disappointed had I paid the steep Kindle or hardcover price!

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