Review of UP CLOSE AND DANGEROUS by Linda Howard
Ballantine Books, July 2007
Bailey Wingate, young widow to a much older billionaire and in control of her stepchildren's trust funds, is no one's favorite person. The slacker stepchildren, Seth and Tamzin, show open hatred and disgust toward her. And Cam Justice, assigned to pilot her charter flight from Seattle to Denver, sees her as a cold, gold-digging bitch. She sees him as cold, too. But when their sabotaged plane goes down in a Rocky Mountain wilderness, everything changes.
Bailey must save Cam's life by stitching up a severe cut on his head and keeping him warm in the sub-freezing temperatures--all while fighting off an infection from her own injuries. She shows intelligence, fortitude, and unselfishness in a crisis, as does Cam, and gradually their opinions of each other soften as close proximity forces desire to grow.
As a survival story, this book is highly readable. As a romance or a suspense story, however, it fails pretty seriously. The seduction is rather sweet--Ms. Howard never misses in that department. But there's no real conflict to the romance--both characters see quickly that their preconceived notions about each other were wrong. And there's no suspense while they're stranded in the wilderness, other than wondering how and when they'll be rescued. In the last few pages we have a token surprise as to the true saboteur, but no danger, no action.
I felt particularly betrayed by the jacket flap copy: "a deadly game of cat and mouse ... trust can be a weapon, a kiss can be a threat, and intimacy can be deadly." Um, no. Nothing like that in this book.
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