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The Man Behind The CopWendy the Super Librarian’s review of The Man Behind The Cop by Janice Kay Johnson
Contemporary romance released by Harlequin SuperRomance 1 May 08

The next time someone whips out a sanctimonious tone and informs me that all Harlequins are fluffy, nonsensical escape fantasies I’m going to find a copy of this book and throw it at them. Hard.

The Man Behind The Cop is my favorite type of romance – the emotionally messy kind. The kind where bad things happen to good people, and the reader spends the entire novel holding their breath in anticipation. This story is not an easy read. It’s not a fluffy one. It’s so darn gut-wrenching that I found myself saying the mantra, “It’s a romance, there will be a happy ending” over and over again. It’s one heck of an emotional roller coaster ride.

Karin Jorgenson is a psychologist who counselors battered women. She hears about the worst men every working day of her life, so naturally she’s still single. However, she loves her work, is devoted to her clients, and doesn’t realize what she’s missing until Bruce Walker walks through her office door.

Bruce is a police officer who survived a less than stellar childhood. His father was violent, beating his wife and berating his children. Bruce left home the moment he could, and did not look back. However, his work as a cop means he lands quite a few domestic violence cases. He agrees to teach a self-defense class at Karin’s office, only to have tragedy strike. An abusive husband attacks his wife, one of Karin’s clients, and kidnaps their two small children.

As the woman lies in a coma, Bruce works the case, but always comes back for Karin’s insight and help. They find themselves attracted to each other, but a relationship between them is complicated. They see the worst in human nature every day, and Bruce is convinced his father has tainted him. How can he dare to fall in love, have a family, when this seed of violence is buried inside of him?

There is a lot going on in this story – from the budding romance, Bruce’s haunted past, and the criminal investigation. There’s also a secondary storyline involving Bruce’s work as a Big Brother, and the young man he spends time with. It adds rich detail to the story, and packs a big emotional punch. That being said, readers looking for “just the romance please” may find all of this heartbreak a distraction. I did not, and saw it as painting a larger picture of who Bruce and Karin truly were, and what obstacles stood in the way of a possible relationship.

This isn’t a shiny, happy story for the majority of the novel. It’s hard to read, because it literally rips your guts out. But that’s the magic of romance. Because no matter what terrible stuff may happen, readers know that somehow the author is going to make it all better by the final page. The ending here is a bit overly dramatic, and I’m not sure how a real life police officer would feel about the climactic finish, but dang if it doesn’t make for fantastic fiction. This truly is a marvelous story, even if it’s not always easy to read.

Super WendyGrade: A-


Being a big-city cop and being in control means everything to Bruce Walker. He knows how destructive a man can be when given the chance. That’s why he’s vowed never to get involved.

All that changes the moment he meets psychologist Karin Jorgenson. The connection between them is instant, intense…something he’s tempted to explore. Regardless of how Bruce feels, though, he can’t let go of everything he knows. His control is even more important now that they’re involved in a domestic violence case. Karin insists he’s a different man than the one he sees in the mirror. But can he trust her-and himself-enough to open his eyes and see it, too?

Read an excerpt here.