Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Ideal Man, by Julie Garwood

This book hooked me from the first sentence, and had me wondering if the voice was that of a murderer.  Turns out it is Dr. Ellie Sullivan, who is a senior surgical resident in a large trauma center in St. Louis, who has seen a few too many bullets during her residency than most people do in a lifetime.  Ellie gets off work for the day, and decides to go for a run on the track in the park across the street from the hospital, where she is witness to a murder and shooting of an FBI agent. 

While FBI agent Max is waiting for her to get out of surgery, removing the bullet from his coworker, he does a bit of background research on Ellie.  He finds out that she had a tragic past, and as a 12 year old girl was viscously attacked by Evan Patterson and left for dead.  She survived, but her family sent her from her home town of Winston Falls, South Carolina to a home in St. Louis when the attacker keeps getting out of psych institutions, in an attempt to keep Ellie safe.  Her foster family is wonderful, and to stay on the safe side Ellie has only made a few trips to her hometown over the years.  Her sister Ava is getting married to John, whom Ellie was engaged to.  Ellie had taken John home to meet her biological family, and Ava and he were caught in a compromising position.  Ellie dumped him, and Ava took advantage of the moment and claimed him.  Ava owns a boutique in Winston Falls, and has a twin Annie who is an attorney.  And Max and Ellie have an instant attraction to each other.  Trouble is, Max lives in Hawaii and Ellie is in St. Louis.  Although her residency is ending, she can’t quite imagine relocating to Hawaii, not being sure if the feelings she has are simply lust or something more serious. 

Ellie reluctantly returns home to the Falls for the wedding.  Ava is a mean spirited woman, and given the circumstances of who she is getting married to, Ellie really does not want to be there.  Plus Ellie has not known for a few years where Patterson has been hiding, and is scared to death at the prospect of running in to him again, feeling another encounter would result in him killing her.  She no more arrives at her parents home, and Max blows in with the news that there is a hit out on her from the Landrys, who are weapons runners and responsible for the shooting in the park.  Patterson is out and about somewhere, doubling the risk to Ellie.  Max tells Ellie’s parents why he is there, because there will be other agents arriving to assist him with security for Ellie.  Her dad is very concerned and upset, while all her lovely Southern Belle mother can think of is finding a way for Ellie to be in the wedding, so the town will quit talking about how Ava stole Ellie’s fianc√© from her.  This was the only low point in the book for me.  Ellie’s mom is totally clueless, and is really obnoxious about this wedding, while all Ava does is act out, giving a whole new meaning to the term Bridezilla. 

Fortunately, the author does not dwell long on this topic before Patterson makes his move.  Good old Max to the rescue.  Unfortunately Patterson’s attack sent everyone running from Ava’s pre-wedding garden party, ruining her grand entrance.  Of course she blames this all on Ellie, since Ava has not been privy to the news of why these extra people have been hanging around her parents’ home.  Finally, mom tells Ava to stuff it, realizing the seriousness of the situation.   The FBI knows who they are after now regarding the park killing.  Max and Ellie head for the airport, but they won’t arrive at the airport for quite some time yet! 

There isn’t a dull moment in this book, and the twists and turns take you right up to the last page of the book.  Ellie’s sister Annie discovers she is pregnant while in Winston Falls, and tells Ellie the story of how she met the baby daddy.  Now she has no idea where he went to or how to locate him.  Max offers to see what he can do to help track him down.  Ava’s wedding finally goes off without a hitch, and Ellie gets a call from the FBI that she has to go to Maui to testify about the park killings. Maui is where Max and the FBI  took down the Landrys with a cache of weapons . Since she and Max have not been in touch since he left to go home and finish the investigation, she is not expecting anything other than a hello from him.  Meanwhile, back in San Diego Annie’s doorbell is ringing…..could it be?? 

The characters are extremely well drawn out.  Ellie’s dad provided for some light moments in the book, while her mom and Ava just made you want to reach out and strangle them both!  Patterson really was insane.  You could almost hear the voices in his head telling him what to do.  Max was just wonderful.  Garwood paints such a good picture of him that I have a distinct mental of image of him that I get to keep!!!

This book should be titled The Ideal Men, because in all honesty there is more than one ideal man in the book, and I will suffice to say John is not one of them! Book provided by Net Galley for an honest review.
Rating:  A, Hot.  


Danielle said...

I'm moving this book way up in my TBR pile!

Debra V said...

I'll be reading this one this week!!

Belgie said...

I really loved Max! He had just the right combination of dedicated cop and man-being-led-around-by-the-hormones. Seeing he and Ellie battle it out in regards to how they felt about one another was very realistic, very charming, and super sizzling. Their interactions mixed in with the dangers in Ellie's life - both because she has a stalker and because she is a witness - keep the pages turning. I read the book in one sitting: putting it down was not an option! Definitely one of the best romantic suspense books I've read.

So, if you're a fan of romance, suspense and/or mystery - this is definitely a book I declare worth reading!