Kill and Tell by Linda Howard
Series: CIA Spies #1
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: October 1st 2003
Genres: Fiction, Suspense
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Romantic suspense superstar Linda Howard’s seductive New York Times bestseller “meshes hot sex, emotional impact, and gripping tension” (Publishers Weekly) into a sizzling, heart-pounding thriller!
Still reeling from her mother’s recent death, Karen Whitlaw is stunned when she receives a package containing a mysterious notebook from her estranged father, whom she has barely seen since his return from the Vietnam War decades ago. Then, a shocking phone call: Karen’s father has been murdered on the gritty streets of New Orleans.
For homicide detective Marc Chastain, something about the case of a murdered homeless man just doesn’t add up—especially after he meets the victim’s daughter. Far from the cold woman he expected, Karen Whitlaw is warm and passionate. She is also in serious danger. A string of “accidents” have shaken Karen to the core and forced her into the protective embrace of the charming detective she vowed to resist.
Together they unravel a disturbing story of politics, power, and murder—and face a killer who will stop at nothing to get his hands on her father’s secrets.
Holly: Linda Howard is a master at making implausible scenarios work. Her books should be ridiculous, considering the far-fetched plots, but instead they’re engrossing and exciting. This book has a lot of controversy surrounding it based on the actions of the hero. Unfortunately for me, the implausibility wasn’t as easily overlooked here as in some of her other works.
Karen is a nurse who lost her mom within the last year and just got a call that her estranged father is dead. She hasn’t seen him in years and has very few happy feelings about him, but still. He was her father and needs to be taken care of. She flies to New Orleans to identify the body and make final arrangements.
Marc Chastain is the detective in charge of her father’s case. He’s made some assumptions about her based on the way she first reacted to the news of her father’s passing, her actions since she arrived in town and the fact that her father was living on the streets at the time of his death. Marc firmly believes the old and mentally ill should be cared for by their families, not abandoned. His assumptions about Karen and her actions cause him to act very reserved toward her at first. He’s polite, but she easily senses his dislike for her.
The problem is, Karen isn’t at all what Marc assumed. He quickly realizes that, but the damage is done…she sensed his dislike and has been subconsciously reacting to it. In order to make headway with her before she goes back to her life, he pushes her faster than he normally would have, trying to tie her to him before she leaves the state.
What did you think of the set-up? Karen getting called to New Orleans to deal with her father’s body and Marc’s reaction to her?
Rowena: It’s been a long time since I read this book and one thing that jumped out at me at every turn in this last re-read was how fast everything happened. From the time Karen’s dad died to the time Karen lands in New Orleans, meets Detective Chastain and the both of them fall in love with each other, it was a matter of days. It was a lot harder for me to swallow this time around but I’m not going to lie, I still liked the story as a whole. Haha, I’m weird.
Holly: That’s the thing about Howard. If I think about the plot and creepy hero behavior too much, I know it wasn’t okay. They fell in love in a matter of days and she moved her whole life to be with him? He decided within hours of meeting her that she was the only one for him and moved heaven and earth to tie him to her? CREEPY. And yet..it works. It totally works.
Rowena: You’re right. The first time that I read this book, I didn’t bother with the details much. I was swept up in the romance of it all. Falling in love with someone in such a short time seemed romantic but I don’t know, this time around I picked up on things I hadn’t before…and I’m kind of bummed about that. Because if you let yourself get bogged down in the details, the romance that you were swept up in falls flat on its face.
Do we even want to get into the little detail with Chastain and the condom? How about the Criminal Minds unsub thought processes that Chastain had while falling in love with Karen? Or Karen’s decision to move her entire life from Ohio to Louisiana for a man that she fell in love with in a matter of days? The same guy with the condom.
Let’s do it. Let’s get down in the details. Let’s talk about all of those details. Where do you want to start?
Holly: With the condom, of course. Let me sum up:
Chastain realizes there’s more to Karen than he originally thought and decides he wants her. Not just for sex, but …for always? So after her father’s funeral he invites her back to his place for dinner. They settle on the terrace with sandwiches and cookies after he changes into jeans and she takes her hose off.
After some time (does it say how long in the book?) he puts on some music and asks her to dance. ..then dances her right into his bedroom and he bones her.
Not that big a deal except for 1) she was clearly in a vulnerable place having just buried her father and 2) he didn’t pause to put a condom on. Why? BECAUSE HE WAS ALREADY WEARING ONE. When he changed into jeans he put one on…and kept it on the whole time they were on the terrace (which later he throws out as proof of how much he wanted her).
What kind of a creeper lures a grief-stricken woman from a different state back to his place and then puts a condom on hours(?) before getting her into bed? That’s some serious premeditation right there.
Rowena: I don’t think they say how much time passes but dude, it was a while. He sat there through their food, their conversation, their drinks and then danced with her and the whole freaking time, he was WEARING A CONDOM!!!! How did that shit not tear? He wasn’t wearing basketball shorts or loose fitted pants, he was wearing FREAKING JEANS!!!
I mean the creep factor is pretty high that even Karen took notice of it. The premeditation of the whole thing (See? That Criminal Minds unsub mentality) made me squirm and not in a good way. I don’t think I would have had the same reaction as Karen.
What about you? Would you have slept with him after you found out that he was wearing the condom the whole time? How many of us would have actually done it?
Holly: Well, to be fair (and if I remember correctly), she didn’t realize about the condom until after she’d slept with him. Right? She was so caught up in the moment it wasn’t until the next morning she realized what he’d done. .and she hightailed it out of there as soon as she could sneak away. Then she goes back only because someone is trying to kill her and she knows he’s the only one who can help.
I can see why she went back. I can even see why she thought she was in love with him. But it was under such intense circumstances and over such a shirt period of time, I don’t know that I believe it’s Wuv, Twu Wuv forever and ever amen.
Rowena: Oh yeah, you’re right. She was caught up in the moment and then she fled. And then she went back. Maybe that’s why I’m still single because I wouldn’t have gone back. I would have freaked myself out over him wearing that condom the whole night and cut my losses and probably would have died at the hands of the guys that killed my Dad and were trying to kill me. I would have been like, “Peace out, world” because….eww.
Holly: Same. I can get swept up in the romanticism of the moment while reading, but in real life? Dude was a creeper, straight up.
Which is why Karen’s decision to move her whole life there was so hard to take. Going to Marc when people were trying to kill her? Okay. It was an extreme situation. Her options were limited and she didn’t feel like she had anywhere else to go. But to stay afterward? Forever? When they’d only known each other a matter of days? Erm…
Rowena: Yeah, I don’t buy it.
I can see her going to Marc for protection. That made sense because he has the experience to keep her safe but the whole moving her entire world to Louisiana with condom dude, I don’t care how hot he was…that doesn’t make sense.
I guess it was hard for me to accept Karen’s decision to move in with Marc so soon because I couldn’t help but think that he was such a weirdo with the way he thought about things. So clinical and precise and…low key deadly. Reading his POV of the things as they’re happening really did remind me of being in the head of the killer in an episode of Criminal Minds.
So why the hell did I like this book, even after all of that? Maybe I’m the weirdo. LOL.
Holly: Well, that’s the thing. That’s what makes Howard such a fantastic author. Because in the moment, it totally works. I had the passing thought while reading that it was a little unbelievable, but it was just a passing thought. I was wrapped up in the drama and excitement of them being chased by killers and trying to solve her dad’s murder. I was wrapped up in the romance. Because it was romantic. This intense, charming, southern man falls for you in a matter of days, and you return those feelings? Oh, and did I mention he was effing hot?!?! Sign me up!
Then it’s like waking up from a dream. In dreamland all kinds of things make sense, but then your head clears and all you can think is… what the actual fuck just happened?
Rowena: Yep. To all of that.
While there were things that brought me up short, I still read the entire thing and had a smile on my face when it all ended. I’m not sure if it was the ridiculousness of the story or because in the end, I really did like the two of them together. Whatever it was, Linda Howard did write an entertaining story full of romance and action.
I especially liked seeing John Medina again. Seeing where we first met him and then knowing what’s in store for him in the future gave me the feels. happy sigh
Holly: I didn’t like Medina’s book. It’s one of only a few Howard novels I’ve only read a couple times and never go back to. I actually think this book was the beginning of the end of my undying love for her novels. Open Season, All the Queens Men and even Mr. Perfect were so frustrating to me.
Rowena: I liked it. I remember being one of the few that did enjoy it. I used to re-read that book a lot. Those were the days. I know that if I re-read it now, I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did before so I doubt I’ll do a re-read. Keep the memories alive and all that. 🙂
This was a 3 read for me. It was ridiculous and yet it was still fun. You?
Holly: The same I think. On the surface it was an intense adventure. Upon further consideration it was a pretty creepy romance.
Holly: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5