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Monday, August 7, 2006

Cover of Night by Linda Howard

In the charming rural town of Trail Stop, Idaho, accessible to the outside world by only a single road, young widow Cate Nightingale lives peacefully with her four-year-old twin boys, running a bed-and-breakfast. Though the overnight guests are few and far between - occasional hunters and lake fishermen - Cate always manages to make ends meet with the help of the local jack-of-all-trades, Calvin Harris, who can handle everything from carpentry to plumbing. But Calvin is not what he seems, and Cate's luck is about to run out.

One morning, the B&B's only guest inexplicably vanishes, leaving behind his personal effects. A few days later Cate is shocked when armed men storm the house, demanding the mystery man's belongings. Fearing for her children's lives, Cate agrees to cooperate - until Calvin saves the day, forcing the intruders to scatter into the surrounding woods.

The nightmare, however, is just beginning. Cate, Calvin, and their entire community find themselves cut off and alone with no means to call for help as the threat gathers intensity and first blood is drawn.

With their fellow residents trapped and the entire town held hostage, Cate and Calvin have no choice but to take the fight to their enemies under the cover of night. While reticent Cal becomes a fearless protector, Cate makes the most daring move of her life...into the very heart of danger.


How many of you have read Danielle Steel? I used to read her all the time when I was younger, but after awhile the repetitiveness of her writing started to wear on me and I gave up on her. I'm not talking about the constant reuse of key phrases, either, but the way she feels she has to explain the same point again and again and again.

That's exactly what Linda Howard did in this novel. Contrary to popular belief, I am not an idiot. Once you explain something to me once, I get it. I don't need you to repeat the same point over and over. Truly.

Three years ago, Cate's husband died of a Staph infection, leaving her a widow with very young twin boys. In an effort to provide financially for them and to escape all of the memories of Seattle, she moves to Trail Stop, Idaho. Bascially the very end of the map. A very small community nestled in the mountains of Idaho and miles from everything. The town is surrounded on three sides by mountains and has only one road for access.

Life is pretty peaceful for her and her twins. She's made some friends, though she's mostly kept people at arms length. The local handyman, Calvin Harris, is at her house almost every day, because it's an old victorian and seems to need constant repairs. Anywhoo, she has this guest come and stay who sneaks out the window during the day and leaves all his stuff behind. At first she's irritated that he ditched out like that, then she's worried about him, thinking he may have had an accident or something, then she goes back to being irritated when he's still gone two days later.

In the meantime, we find out that ol' boy who skipped out the window is actually a CPA who stole some VIP crap from some mobster and is attempting to extort an extreme amount of money from him. Well, as you can imagine, ol' mobster guy isn't very happy about that, so he hires this shady PI/Contract Killer dude to go after him. They eventually track him to the B&B in Trail Stop...and this is where the story goes south. Wayyyy South.

The thing about this book is...it wasn't that interesting BEFORE ol' contract killer dudes show up. But AFTER that? It was so over-the-top-unbelieveable I was almost in stitches. Seriously.

Here's the skinny. Ol' Contract Killer Dudes overhear Cate and her friend talking about how she's suspicious of them, so rather than being all stealthy and searching for the junk Ol' CPA boy left behind, they rush at her with guns and demand his stuff. She's getting ready to comply when Cal the Handyman shows up to get the mail. She sends him on his way, but on the off chance that something isn't right he circles back around and...saves the day.

Now, the thing is, up until this point, Cal can't string two words together in Cate's presence. He's painfully shy around her and even goes so far as to turn BEAT ASS RED when he's near her. I think LH was trying to make us see that he had different sides by throwing a few other scenes with him in it, but it didn't work. Not for me anyway.

But back to my bitching review. So Cal figures out that Cate's in trouble, circles around, knocks one of the Contract Killer Dudes on the head and takes the other one by surprise and disarms him. In the name of keeping things calm, he hands over Ol' CPA Boy's suitcase and sends them on their way. Yeah, dumn but whatever.

Conveniently, Cate's mom is visiting from Seattle, and wants the twins for a few weeks, so the next morning Cate sends them on their way, because she's paranoid and wants them safe. Which, ok, that makes sense. But it was just too neat and tidy that her mom was there when this went down.

But moving along....

The twins hit the road and the Contract Killer Dudes check out the suitcase. Well, well, what do you know. Seems there isn't any shaving stuff or person toiletries in the bag, so they figure she's holding out on them. So what do they do? Well, they decide to take the entire town hostage, of course.

*stares*

Yes, I said take the entire town hostage. Because Cate may or may not have a shaving kit that may or may not include the thing that Mobster Dude's CPA stole from him.

Yeah. Stooopid!

From there on it was just dumb. The POV's jumped around entirely too much, but we didn't get hardly anything from the hero. We come to understand that he's been in love with Cate since she moved there, and that he was formerly a Marine, so he's well able to handle the situation, but that's it. The character development sucked, IMO.

The twins were sort of cute, but since they only lasted like the first 20 pages or so I can't really say they grabbed me. The storyline was WAY over the top. I mean, how freakin ridiculous is it that 2 guys would take an entire town hostage - on their own - without even knowing for sure if she had what they wanted. We didn't get to see enough from the hero's POV. The storyline sucked. She jumped around WAY too much. During one chapter there was seven different POV's.

Overall, I wasn't impressed. At all. I'm really hoping the next thing she decides to write is WAY better than this. Way, WAY better.

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