Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #45: Open Season by Linda Howard
I’m not a big romance reader, but this book seemed to cover all the clichés I’ve heard of or come across in the few I’ve read. Daisy is a spinster librarian, living with her spinster aunt and mother. She meets the new sheriff in town, who is too big, too forceful, too sure of himself, and instantly dislikes him. She decides to turn over a new leaf after taking stock on her 34th birthday, gets a makeover, and goes on a husband-hunt.
Just from there, you know exactly where the book is going, right? It’s like paint-by-numbers. Daisy gets hottified, Sheriff Jack gets under her skin, and they fall madly in love after the worldly strong man teaches the delicate flower the ways of the world. And all that happens, yes, but the interesting part is the sex trafficking, date-rape murders, and attempted killing of Daisy in the middle of the book.
Jack is going undercover at local dance clubs and bars, looking for suspicious men who might be behind the string of dead young women (overdosed on GHB) in the area. He rescues naïve Daisy, fresh on the prowl after her makeover, from some sketchy characters, and the two start talking. When she witnesses a man’s murder in a bar parking lot, Jack jumps into action to protect her, find the men who are looking for her, and solve the crime before she becomes the next victim.
This was my first Linda Howard book, and I thought it was interesting how she would set up a scene so I thought I knew exactly where it was going, then she’d turn it on its head. The clichés actually worked when she mixed them up with such non-romancey plotlines. The damsel in distress bit seemed to work better when the love interest is ex-SWAT, and she has actual reason to lean on him rather than “I couldn’t possibly, I’m just a girl!” The writing was good, and Daisy and all the supporting characters were very likeable. It was much funnier than I expected, especially considering every other chapter is about a string of criminals who sell young girls into sex slavery. She strikes a good balance between light and serious.