Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cover of Night by Linda Howard ***

I listened to this book on my road trip to Arizona to pack up my life and move it cross country for a new beginning. This fact might have colored my experience, but somehow this story seemed so unlike any Linda Howard I'd read that it left me a little confused.

There wasn't much romance or sexual tension, and the hero was so beta at first as to be almost non-hero until a sudden transformation late in the story. I guess because we hear so much of the heroine's POV at first, he comes across as a blushing, stammering idiot whenever he's around her. Cal's a handyman in the small Idaho town, and he's spent so much time fixing things at Cate's Victorian B&B she's considering offering him free room and board in exchange for his services. His HANDYMAN services that is.

She's a widow with twin boys - her husband had some short fatal illness (staph infection? I think) right after the twins were born. In her grief, she sold her home and moved to small-town Idaho to start over. How she made a going concern of a B&B at the end of the road in a town of 50 people I have no idea.

But her handyman issues are apparently all because everyone else in town can see that Handyman Cal is head over heels in love with her, so they break things in her house to force their getting together. Weird, huh? Especially since he's actually a former special ops marine with all kinds of saleable skills, so why is he doing plumbing and carpentry?

That's only part of the weirdness of the story. A mob accountant decides to force a mobster's hand: pay me $20 mil to keep your real books away from the feds or else. He has the raw data on a flash drive which he takes with him to - guess where - the Idaho B&B. He leaves his stuff in the room, slips out a window and disappears, leaving a trail to the B&B that stops cold. Now - let's take stock - he has the data on a flashdrive, and several times the people who know this realize it MIGHT be on his person like, duh, in a pocket or on his keychain. But the mobster hires some goon who hires some more goons, one of whom has a beef with Goon #1. The goons go to Idaho and shoot 7 of the 50 townspeople after cutting it off, and now Handyman aka Former SpecOps guy must save the day. Meanwhile no one has any idea why they're shooting at them - they have made no demands at all. No one realizes Mob Accountant is even involved. Or is an accountant. Or works for the mob. Or anything.

And at the very end, while trying to get over a mountain to Save The Day, Cal and the widow boink in a cave while it snows, their first and only in-story tryst. He admits to her he loves her and her wild kids and that he stayed in Small Town for 3 years waiting for her to be ready for him. Which borders on creepy and stalkerish in a way.

Ok - why did I even give it 3 stars? Because I didn't really dislike it as much as I was disappointed.

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