Happily Ever After

Over the years, Jo “Surf” Tanis has had a lot of jobs. She was a bookstore clerk for a while, a popular pinup model, a reality TV star, and a fake superhero. After she saved the planet from space invaders one day, she finally graduated to the rank of A-list superhero.

But despite her Earth-saving accomplishments, a lot of supervillains still didn’t respect Tanis’s newly earned superhero status. “You’re just a cute widdle girl who gets the pinups and poses with the babies,” says the Controller, her most recent, and most demented, adversary.

Even her superhero fraternity isn’t totally on board with her promotion. Take Kit Masters, for example. He was one of the first superheroes, and arguably the most celebrated Alpha of all time. When he crosses paths with Tanis, he asserts his dominance immediately. “I’m the Alpha here,” he says. “You’re just a dipshit chick who got lucky.”

Great Hera! What does a gal have to do to get a little respect around here? Think about it. She saved the planet, battled supervillains, and smashed a rogue Agency guardian. In the process she single-handedly reinvented the superhero paradigm. That’s a pretty impressive resume.

We have no problem believing Jo Tanis is the real deal. Unfortunately, we have a teensy-weensy problem with this particular book. It’s the last installment of the Blaze of Glory trilogy. As a random episode in the ongoing adventures of Tanis and her gang, it’s perfectly acceptable. But as the final act in a three-act play, it is a tad disappointing.

We were expecting some sort of explosive resolution to cap the series. A tragic death scene perhaps, or a critical double-cross, some sort of mind-blowing culmination of the first two books (Blaze of Glory and Heroes Without, Monsters Within). As a sendoff to faithful readers, the novel dutifully provides a happy ending. But we felt it desperately needed a bigger jolt to deliver a deeper emotional payoff.

So what happens? The villain is vanquished and Tanis receives a half-assed marriage proposal from her doting boyfriend. That’s basically it. Hardly a rousing conclusion to a series that started off with so much promise. It’s obvious to us that the author had an emotional attachment to her core characters. As such, she wasn’t going to allow any of them to get killed. And she was determined from the very beginning to reward her protagonist with lots of hugs and kisses. So be it. “Villains fight heroes and heroes always win,” says Tanis early in the novel. And everyone lives happily ever after.

[Heroes Lost and Found / By Sheryl Nantus / First eBook Printing: October 2012 / ISBN: 9781619210998]

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