Monday, July 23, 2007

Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard

Book description:

A mysterious plane crash . . . a dangerous trek through the Idaho wilderness . . . a smoldering attraction . . . and a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Bailey Wingate’s scheming adult stepchildren are surprised when their father’s will leaves Bailey in control of their fortune, and war ensues.

A year later, while flying from Seattle to Denver in a small plane, Bailey nearly dies herself when the engine sputters–and then fails.

Cam Justice, her sexy Texan pilot, manages to crash-land the aircraft. Stranded in the wilderness, and struggling to douse her feelings for the ruggedly handsome man by her side, Bailey begins to wonder whether this was a mere accident. Who tampered with their plane? Who’s trying to reunite Bailey and her husband in the afterlife? Cut off from the world, and with little hope of rescue, Bailey must trust her life–and heart–to Cam, as they battle the harsh elements to find a way out of the unforgiving wilds and back to civilization . . . where a killer may be waiting to finish the job.

I'm still on the fence about this one. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I've come to expect from Linda Howard. Obviously I need to lower my expectations. I just can't help it. Every year for the past five years, I get my hopes up when she releases a new book. Almost every year since then I want to either burn the book while I cry over its' ashes or throw it against the wall. I'm happy to report that this year I did neither. So that's a good sign. I guess.

Bailey Wingate has gotten used to being labeled as a gold-digger. Personal Assistant-turned-wife of millionaire Jim Wingate didn't endear her to very many people. What only a few people do know is that it was Jim's idea to get married. A purely business arranagement, Jim came to Bailey offering her a chance at financial security if she would agree to be the trustee and executor of the money left to his children in a trust. Yeah, btw, his children are adults that are sleazebags. His son, Seth, absolutely hates Bailey. Haaaaates her. See, Bailey is actually younger than him and it really chaps his ass that he has to get his montly allowance from her. Seth's sister and the other child, Tamzin (WTF kind of name is that?) is even worse. Gawd, she was barely even in the book and she grated on my nerves.

So Bailey was all ready to go on vacation with her brother and his wife. She was somewhat chagrined when she got to the airfield and found Captain Cam Justice waiting to take her to Denver. See, Cam doesn't like Bailey and he's never tried to hide that. He's with the majority of people who thinks she's a gold-digging whore that took advantage of a sick old man for money. Not to mention he think she's a cold ass bee-yotch. When he has to lug her three huge suitcases into the plane, it reinforces his beliefs that she is exactly what he thinks she is. Little did he know that those three suitcases would save his judgemental ass.

When the plane goes down, you can virtually feel the terror in the air. Howard does a magnificant job of putting the reader right there with Bailey and Cam. After they "land" in the cold mountains of Idaho (I swear, I did not know this), Bailey drags an unconcious Cam out of the cockpit. She then starts dragging stuff out of her suitcases. Bailey is an overpacker. Which is this case was a definite good thing. Because she was going rafting and camping for vacation, she had things that would make the difference between life and death for her and Cam. The whole time she was trying to ger herself and Cam warm, I could literally feel the cold. People, it is freezing in Idaho. Seriously, I could almost feel the cold and it was making me cold while reading it. Bailey basically saved both their asses while Cam was out cold.

Then, in the way only Howard heroes can, Cam abruptly decides that he's not letting Bailey go. His logic for this is that the time they spent together (4 days x 24 hours) equals roughly 15 dates. Does he keep this information to himself? Of course not. He tells her that he knows exactly what she's doing with the Ice Queen persona. But pushing him away is not going to work. No siree.

When Cam examines the wreckage, he finds that the plane was deliberately tampered with. Both Cam and Bailey are convinced that Seth Wingate is the person behind the crash. Bailey, not willing to take any more chances with her life, decides to hand over her authority of the trust. Cam just wants to kick his ass for almost killing Bailey.

After hiking away from the crash site, they are rescued. That was a little anti-climatic. After all these days of survival in the woods, they light a signal fire and hear a helicopter within minutes. Hmph. Before they do get rescued, Cam insists that Bailey marry him and move in with him. But he's very thoughtful because he'll let her do that in whichever order she wants. Very thoughtful, isn't he?
Overall, this book wasn't bad. It was a good story. The characters were good. It was just good. Not great, but good. Bailey was a kick ass heroine. I liked her from the very beginning. Cam is more like a Howard hero than her past few heroes. I just can't put my finger on exactly what's missing.

Oh and I'm not going to give away the ending. I was too surprised by who did it, but then, I always am.

3.5 out of 5 stars.


Rosie said...

I just finished this one myself. I liked it much better than recent offerings and I sorta got their relationship I guess. It certainly isn't going to replace my LH keepers any time soon, but a much better outing for me.

Kris said...

I just got it from the library but it is like third on my tbr list. I am glad that you liked it.

nath said...

This book has been sitting on my floor for two weeks... I should really consider reading it :P Great review, Casee :D

Ange - The Book Groupie said...

Thank GOD! This book should be here tomorrow but I have been SO WORRIED because of what I un-fondly refer to as "the Cover of Night fiasco". I'm so glad to see a trusted reviewer say that the new LH wasn't so bad that it deserves to be burned in effigy! LOL!

Rowena said...

Goodness I want to read this book so bad....*sigh*

Great review sweetie!

Maddie said...

What up girsh? I'm not a die hard Linda Howard fan but she's written a few that I really enjoyed. I'll have to pick this one up next time.

mas said...

Yes, but my question to you is still "do you think I will like this one?" :D.

Holly said...

Ok, I finished it and I agree with you for the most part. I thought it was way better done than Cover of Night (*shudder*) or a lot of her other newer releases, but it's not going anywhere near the top of my list of favorites.

And what was up with the ending? Ugh.

But thanks for sending it to me. Love you. :)

Ange - The Romance Groupie said...

I finished it the other day and although I think it is WAY better than Cover of Night, I agree that something is missing. It's a depth of emotion and characterization issue, I think.

It was also WAY more 'instructive' than past LH books.
For example, in Dying to Please LH did not describe exactly how Sarah picked up a gun and why she picked it up like that, how she held it and the reason for holding it that way, how she aimed it and the reason for aiming it that way, how she fired it and her reason for firing it that way. OK, so that was an exaggeration but in Up Close and Dangerous the 'inventive' use of each item is described in excruciating detail. It was a little dry.

That twist at the end got me even though I was expecting one. It wasn't the twist that I thought it would be though! LOL!

Holly said...

Yes! Ange, you nailed it! That's exactly it. She was very "istructive".

And I figured out the end. Casee was pissed at me for doing it. lol

Erin said...

Hmm, I still haven't read her last two releases. Maybe I'll skip them and go to this one. *g*

Ange - The Romance Groupie said...

Wow! What tipped you off to the twist Holly? I was really 'watching' for it but couldn't find any clues.

Casee said...

Ange, it's because she's kind of a freak when it comes to stuff like that. LOL