Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Troublemaker by Linda Howard

I know I have a bit of a pet-peeve with condom use but, c'mon, Ms. Howard is a veteran romance writer. There are more reasons than pregnancy to use a condom. At the very least she could sit down and have the characters talk about being tested. More than just "It's okay, I'm on the pill." Blergh. It always takes me out of the story. 
There is a special brand of Howard WTFery that I look forward to in her books. And in this book, while it was a good book, that craziness was way toned down. I mean, the books I think of when I think Linda Howard have agents whose memories have been imperfectly wiped, bear stalkings (again, black bears don't do that), the only road into a small town being shut down so a team of bad guys can retrieve a microfilm, etc. This, this was strangely devoid of any of that-- but still a good book. And what Howard does nicely is depicts small town life. There's a line in her book that even pokes gentle fun saying that people in big cities always expect small-town folks to all know one another but they don't -- one of my major major pet-peeves (see here Fool's Gold, a town of 125,000 where they somehow not only ALL know each other but everyone's extended history).
Anyway, Morgan Yancy is a super-duper, undercover agent who's had a hit taken out on him that was nearly successful. In order to figure out what's going on, his team leader, Axel, sends him to recuperate in West Virginia. The specific person Morgan is being sent to is Isabeau "Bo" Maran, Axel's ex-step-sister. It seems the two had a contentious relationship when their parents were married for eight months and Axel has never quite gotten over it. 
Bo is the chief of police in a small town but her position is supposed to be more clerical than anything, taking care of the paperwork so that her deputies can do the on-the-streets work that they feel more comfortable with. There were some plot points and character issues I had with Bo and this job (she has, like, three) but, again, used to WAY more craziness from Howard so these were minor.
Then there is the plot moppet, Bo's golden retriever, Tricks. I am a huge Goldie nerd and Tricks sounded about right for that breed of dog but, dang, half the book was an ode to the dog. I would have loved to see a little bit more about what was going on in the discovery of who was trying to kill Morgan (view spoiler) or more about their relationship development. Although, I do have to admire the deft touch of covering major swathes of time with a deft touch. It cured the book of insta-love/lust.
Overall, a nice addition to the Howard canon and I think that regular readers will really enjoy the book. I personally missed the crazy (it's the reason I requested the ARC) but others may not even notice it's gone.

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