Review: Cover of Night by Linda Howard

Posted April 21, 2008 by Holly in Reviews | 13 Comments

Review: Cover of Night by Linda HowardReviewer: Holly
Cover of Night by Linda Howard
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: June 27th 2006
Pages: 352
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two-half-stars

For breathless action, gripping suspense, and intense romance, bestselling author Linda Howard never misses a beat–and her thrilling new novel will have your heart racing.

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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. If 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, 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. Otherwise, though, besides one women she considers a close friend, she doesn’t really socialize in town.

Our story begins when 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 the guest who skipped out the window is actually a CPA who stole some very incriminating evidence from some mobster and is attempting to extort an extreme amount of money from him. Well, as you can imagine, our mobster guy isn’t very happy about that, so he hires this shady PI/Contract Killer guy 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 the contract killer shows up. But AFTER that? It was so over-the-top-unbelievable I was almost in stitches. Seriously.

Here’s the skinny. Contract Killer and his little minion decide to rent a room in Cate’s BB. They overhear Cate and her friend talking about how she’s suspicious of them, so rather than being all stealthy and searching for the things 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 turns 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 Killers on the head and takes the other one by surprise and disarms him. In the name of keeping things calm, he hands over CPA Boy’s suitcase and sends them on their way. Yeah, dumb 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. Ok, that makes sense. But it was just too neat and tidy that her mom was there when this went down.

The twins hit the road and the Contract Killers check out the suitcase. Well, well, what do you know. Seems there isn’t any shaving stuff or personal 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. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?

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 pretty much it. I really liked what I saw of him, and I liked Cate for the most part, too. Although she could have buckled in the face of such craziness, she rose to the occasion and did what needed to be done. But overall? The character development sucked, IMO. There just wasn’t enough focus on the two main protagonists to make them real characters to me. 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.

Basically, the storyline was WAY over the top, we didn’t get to see enough from the hero’s POV and she jumped around WAY too much. During one chapter there were seven different POV’s, none of them the hero.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed. At all. It’s not the worst Linda Howard I’ve ever read (All That Glitters and The Independent Wife hold that title) but it was close.

2.5 out of 5

This book is available from Ballantine. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

two-half-stars


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13 responses to “Review: Cover of Night by Linda Howard

  1. Yeah, definitively not my favorite LH at all. I was sooo disappointed, because unlike most, I did enjoy Killing Time… wasn’t the best, but it was okay 🙂 This one, nope 🙁

  2. I’m in agreement about the story. Taking the whole town hostage is so ridiculously unnecessary!
    However, this is one of my LH favs because of the love story. As Holly points out, you like the hero and heroine. When they finally get together, it’s so cute.
    Nath: Most people don’t like Killing Time? I’m with you; it too is one of my favs. Maybe because it was my first Linda Howard ever.

  3. Dana,
    Have you read LH’s older novels? Say, prior to Mr. Perfect? I’m curious because I think those of us who have been reading her for years (i.e., back when she was still writing only category romance) are disappointed in her earlier stuff (this book and Killing Time, etc). But I wonder if someone who’s just starting to read her feels the same.

    Nath,
    I don’t think I hated Killing Time (not like Rowena did) but it wasn’t even close to as good as LH can be.

  4. azteclady

    You know, I liked it quite a bit–and I’ve been reading her for ages, and have all of her backlist–with the exception of All That Glitters and An Independent Wife (which I can’t even have in the same house with my other books.

    As for the first person books–which titles I don’t even remember, sorry–I just couldn’t get into them at all. *shrug*

  5. Well, that shoots that theory out of the water. LOL

    You didn’t have issues with the plot, AL?

    As for IPW and ATG, I own them, but only because I’m a freak like that and have to own EVERY book. BUT I’ve only read them once. And that was more than enough. *shudder*

  6. azteclady

    I did have issues with the bad guys actions–crazy much? or too stupid to live? you decide–but once I got over the *ahem* likelihood *ahem* of anything in that scale happening, I simply followed along for the ride.

    Plus I liked Cal and Creed very much *shrug*

    What can I say? I liked it.

  7. Anonymous

    I think I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to most things but I just finish ATG last night and let’s just say, I beat the crap out of that book at the end and thought of putting it through the shredder. ( I just had to re-read it to refresh my memory – big mistake!) Needless to say, my 2 yr old daughter was stunned and babble-less.

    Back to Cover of the Night, story in general was ok. I didn’t get into it like I do with other LH books but I was mainly interested to see how LH character/story is evolving.

    Initially, I wasn’t interested in the book because Cal wasn’t the usual hero. He’s shy, he’s not a gazilllionaire or overly ambitious and he’s not over 6 feet tall! (is there a rule that all romance hero must be at least 6 feet?) I couldn’t help but see image of “Willie” from the Simpsons as I read and it just sends me into fits of giggles– you know, skinny unimpressive guy in overalls and then suddenly, ta-da, manly, hot muscled body under it after all? Hehe, sorry, call me silly.

    I read this book out of desperation (scraping the bottom of my tbr barrel) and thought that it was passable because I found Cal to be very endearing after all. I realized I can accept the non-cookie cutter hero and romance — the rest of the storyline was very superficial considering all the crazy events that happened.

    mph

  8. mph,
    why, oh why would you do that to yourself? I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a spoon than re-read that POS book. *shudder*

    I agree about liking Cal. I really did. I just don’t think he got enough page time for me to really KNOW him like I know most of her other heroes. And the plot was so over the top I had a hard time taking the book seriously.

    AL,
    I’d completely forgotten about Creed. I really enjoyed him, too. Thanks for reminding me. 🙂

  9. Bummer. I was hoping after Up Close and Dangerous (which I felt showed a hint of the old LH stuff) that the next one would be even better. I’ll definitely just get this from the library. Sigh.

  10. Sigh. Never mind. I was thinking this was a new one. LOL. I don’t remember reading this one??! I was sure I’ve read all of her more recent books but this one isn’t ringing any bells.

  11. Anonymous

    Holly – I have some theories on why:
    1.) going sensile prematurely therefore desperate to recapture lost memories.
    2.) married with kid so desperate to re-live young, carefree days.
    3.) multitasking too much- misplaced brain.

    hmmmm.
    mph

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