Title: Hero Worship
Author: Phoenix Emrys
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 224 Pages
Rating: 3 Stars
Blurb: In 1975 Douglas “King” Fisher is a teenage crusader who, with the help of his three friends, keeps the environs of Warden High bully-free. On the last day of school he is about to leave, thinking his job is done, when he answers one last call for help, never dreaming this particular intervention will make much more of a difference than he can possibly imagine.
Thirty-five years later, King lives a quiet, deeply closeted, completely unremarkable life, far different from the destiny he was bound for on that long ago summer day. An unfortunate accident sidelined his dreams, and he never left town. While he never “made his mark,” he still does whatever he can to make things better for everyone—except himself.
He sees no value in what he is or what he does. He doesn’t think he’s a hero, but he has one: larger than life Rex Rodman, 80s action hero and former idol of millions. His impossible dream. Or is he? With his fifty-seventh birthday swiftly approaching, King is about to learn some amazing lessons about himself from the last teacher he’d ever expect.
Review: The blurb for this book caught my eye the second I read it, and I was so looking forward to reading it. I loved the idea of more mature MCs than we normally get in M/M romance. Unfortunately, the book fell a little short of my expectations.
The prologue introduced us to Douglas “King” Fisher. He was definitely a different kind of guy than most in his day. He had a definite sense of right and wrong that was taught to him by his father. He and his friends started a group of “Knights” at his school, dedicated to protecting the kids who were directly in the bullies’ crosshairs. On graduation day he saved one last kid, one last time, and this save would set something in motion that King wouldn’t find out about until almost 40 years later.
While trying to perform another act of bravery the summer he graduated, King inadvertently tanked his chances at the future he dreamed of outside the small town he desperately wanted to leave behind. When King has to give up his dreams, he ends up settling. This leaves him feeling like a failure, even if no one else sees him that way.
One other thing he couldn’t do was come out. At least, that was the way he saw it. He figured, as most young men do, that the people in the small town where he lived wouldn’t accept him if he was true to himself, so he lived a pretty solitary life and the only thing he had was his unrelenting fandom of Rex Rodman. Rex was an action hero from the 80’s, who went from superhero to super zero when he came out. King always thought the man was a hero, especially after he came out, because he did something that King could never do. He believed that it showed amazing amounts of integrity to risk everything to be honest about who he was and who he loved.
So here sits King, forty years later, in the small town that he only ever wanted to leave behind. He still feels that he has let down the memory of his father by not making more of his life. It seems most of the town doesn’t agree, though, and the surprise they have in store for him makes that more than clear. It seems he has touched most of these people’s hearts, and he didn’t even know it.
Their surprise also brought one more thing into King’s life, and this was the biggest surprise of his life. Now his surprise has to give the performance of a lifetime to get King to see himself the way everyone else does so both of them can finally have what they have wanted for decades.
I loved the premise of this book, but for some reason the delivery just left me wanting. Most of the “getting to know you” portion of the book was King’s internal dialogue. Don’t get me wrong, King had a great internal voice, but I would have loved to have experienced him interacting with the people in town more instead of only hearing about it through his inner monologues. I also felt the ending was a tad farfetched and a bit abrupt. This was definitely a HFN ending, and I guess I was just hoping to get to see more of a HEA for two people who had been waiting for one another for so many years.
Even though this book was not a hit for me that doesn’t mean it may not be for someone else. The book was well written and the characters I actually got to know were entertaining, so I would recommend giving it a try.
You can buy Hero Worship here: