Monday, November 24, 2008

Open Season by Linda Howard *****

I have listened to the abridged audio book of Open Season three - or more? - times and it's one of my favorites. However, I knew I was missing out on the whole experience, because abridged means a lot of the story was left out. So when I purchased an eBay lot of Howard's books, I was glad it contained Open Season, and I picked it up to read.

As a matter of fact, the abridged version does a very good job of giving most of the story, and most of the very best scenes in the book. But, having listened to it so many times, I could practically mark the book with the deletions made!

Daisy Minor faces her 34th birthday with some dread: she's drab. She's a small town librarian, and she lives up to the worst stereotype: she's single and hasn't had a date in years, she's prim and prissy, and she lives at home with her widowed mother and aunt. She decides she needs to spruce up her wardrobe, her hair and her makeup and be a party girl if she wants to ever meet a man, much less get married.

Jack Russo is the small town chief of police, but he's an outsider, having grown up in Chicago. His police background is as a SWAT member in both Chicago and New York City - but when his elderly aunt died and left him her home in this small town, he decided maybe it was time to make a change, so he gave up his big city cop life and is now the chief of police in a community with very little in the way of crime.

Jack and Daisy first meet in the library when Jack goes in to sign up for the virtual library. He gets a kick out of her prickly behavior, but she's put off by his invading her space and being too big, too male. But the next time they meet, he saves her from a barroom brawl she's inadvertently started. He follows up on that meeting by taking her for a ride while he updates her on the potential dangers of date-rape drugs being used in the area.

The story is a romantic suspense - the suspense is that the local good ol' boy mayor is actually involved in the sex trade, and has in his employ several shady characters, one of whom (Mitchell) has been killing women with GBH. Daisy is in her car in the bar parking lot when she witnesses one of the other bad guys having Mitchell killed - and now they need to tie up that loose end by killing Daisy!

The truly famous scene in this book is when Daisy decides the best way to announce her availability to the single men of her small town is to buy condoms at the local drug store. She knows the pharmacist's wife will spread the gossip, so she goes in and grabs a PartyPak - half a gross of condoms in varying colors and flavors. As she's checking out, Jack gets behind her in line. The dialog after they leave the drug store is hysterical, and has me gasping for breath every time I listen to it. The next best scene is when they actually use the PartyPak, trying to decide what the best color will be. These two scenes always come up in discussions of funny moments in romance novels.

There's also a Notable Pet - Midas, the golden retriever puppy Daisy gets as a guard dog. Midas eats everything in sight, and is pretty much adorable through and through. Having owned a goldie, I can picture this puppy completely!

So it's still one of my favorite books, and I now know "the rest of the story." Mostly what was left out of the abridged audio was detail: there's nothing about Daisy's sister Beth and her family; there's less detail in every scene (even the condom scenes); there's less detail about the puppy - the scene where she picks him out of the litter is left out. Pretty much everything about Todd Lawrence was left in, though, which still has me scratching my head: was Todd Lawrence working as a federal agent on the sex-trade issue, or was his involvement only personal? I never did figure that part out. If not, then what the heck were he and Howard doing? And that scene in the epilogue with the mayor's wife and Sykes, well, that was just creepy - was it a setup for a sequel or just there to make us be creeped out? Cuz frankly, I'm not sure I want a story about Jennifer and Sykes, because they weren't exactly sympathetic characters to begin with. Well... then again, I loved LH's Death Angel, and those were 2 similarly nefarious and flawed characters.

Still 5 stars.

No comments: