Open Season (#75 on AAR's Top 100 Romances)

Linda Howard

An AAR Top 100 Romance

originally published on July 11, 2001

Don’t start Open Season looking for another Mr. Perfect. While there are some similarities, Open Season is its own book and enjoyable on its own merits.

Daisy Minor wakes up on her thirty-fourth birthday to realize that she needs help. Daisy wants to get married and have a family, but since she has not had too many dates in her life, she knows something is wrong. Looking in the mirror, she decides to make herself over in order to attract some attention other than the mercy dates she’s been on – or as she more colorfully puts it, the hopeless going on a mercy date with the pitiful. She goes through the works and emerges a sexier blonder version of her old self and begins to attract some male attention, namely from the chief of police. At the same time she begins to attract attention from a would-be murderer who knows that Daisy saw something she shouldn’t have.

Daisy is a prim and proper librarian in the small town of Hillsboro. She doesn’t cuss, she doesn’t even jaywalk, and she still lives with her mother and aunt. Any woman who has ever thought that a makeover will change her life will love Daisy. She’s clueless about clothes and makeup (one trait I just couldn’t identify with) and remains slightly clueless about her appeal to men, even after her transformation. My favorite traits about Daisy are her intelligence and common sense. She thinks things through to the correct conclusions, and once she does, she’s smart enough to take advice that benefits her. She’s naive without being too stupid to live. Authors often try for naive in a heroine and end up with TSTL, and Daisy’s a good example of how to pull it off.

Police chief Jack Russo likes the small town of Hillsboro and his calmer life after the stress of working with SWAT teams in Chicago and New York. He notices Daisy when he signs up for the virtual library. Jack has fun sparring with Daisy before her makeover, and after it, he notices a few more things. Once he sets his mind on Daisy, he’s persistent about getting closer and once the criminal shows his hand, Jack is persistent about protecting Daisy as well.

On their first meeting, Jack and Daisy spar, but don’t exactly ignite fireworks. That happens after their first kiss. Wowee!! Once the chemistry reacts, they are a hot combo. Their scenes together are cute, as well as sexy and there are some very funny moments between them too. A few of them involve Daisy’s new puppy.

The criminals in the story are committing a particularly ugly crime involving women. There aren’t any graphic details so don’t worry, but the thought of what could be happening is icky in itself. As for the criminals, there’s no secret about who they are. The suspense involves what they are doing and how they’re going to get caught. Higher-ups in the town are involved and while I can’t say more, I can say that a woman character other than Daisy comes into her own by the end, in a nice little twist that leaves the reader hoping if the author’s next book is going to be a sequel or continue the story.

Open Season is certainly suspenseful, but it’s not as laugh-aloud funny as last year’s superb Mr. Perfect. The ending wrapped up a little too quickly and easily, with Daisy staying out of trouble like a good little girl during the big finish. It is still, however, a very entertaining read, and one I couldn’t put down until the end.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Andrea Pool

Grade :     B+

Sensuality :      Warm

Book Type :     

Review Tags :     

Recent Comments


  1. Chrisreader October 7, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    This is one of my favorite Linda Howard books and one of my favorite romance novels. Although the villains are particularly realistic and evil, there is a sweetness without being cloying to Daisy and her family. They were kind and loving but still had a bit of edge thanks mostly to her aunt, and never seemed like a fake, cardboard “perfect” book family.
    A lot of people really, really loved Mr. Perfect which was Howard’s book before Open Season. (I enjoyed it but it was never among my top favorites) and many had a problem with Jack, the hero of this book. I thought he was perfect for this story and that Daisy and he were a great pair. Humorous books can be tricky with many just seeming silly but Open Season managed to work humor into a story that dealt with some pretty horrifying happenings (although as the reviewer pointed out, nothing specifically graphic). I do think over time Open Season has held up better as a story and in a lot of reader’s minds than Mr. Perfect. Daisy is a pretty unique character in modern romances as Andrea the reviewer here pointed out, she’s smart but unworldly. This is one of those books I pick up time and again to revisit Daisy’s transformation and her relationship with Jack. For me this is an A+ book and definitely a DIK. Sadly I think this is probably the last of what I would call Linda Howard’s really great books. She’s written ones since that I enjoyed, but not at this level.

    • Maggie Boyd
      Maggie Boyd October 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      I agree re Mr. Perfect. It’s not a favorite for me the way Open Season is.

  2. Blackjack
    Blackjack October 8, 2017 at 3:18 am - Reply

    Really fun book from Howard and among my favorites of hers. She generally feels a bit dated to me as an author, and when I’ve gone back and reread some of her most popular I’ve been struck by the misogyny and homophobia too often (Mr. Perfect comes to mind as a particularly problematic one). It’s been a while since I’ve read Open Season but I’d like to again to see if it holds up for me.

    • Chrisreader October 8, 2017 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      It’s been so long since I read Mr. Perfect (I think I may have only read it the one time) I cannot even remember most of the plot, let alone the villain so I have no idea what the homophobia was. I may have to give it a reread just to reeducate myself but I do remember wondering if it was just me as everyone else adored that book and I was lukewarm about it. I agree that many of her earlier ones come across as quite dated. Now You See Her is another favorite of mine but one many others are so-so about. After The Night is a big fan favorite and I literally want to jump up and down on that book. The hero makes me rage-y. Jack in this book is definitely “macho” but I liked him overall and I thought Howard did a good job showing how he transplanted into the small community there.

      • Blackjack October 10, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

        Ooh, I have a whole bunch of negative thoughts about Howard’s homophobia and misogyny in Mr. Perfect from my most recent re-read of it. I’ll post them when it pops up here as part of the top 100. I agree with you that After the Night is rough and the belittling of the heroine is pretty drastic. I really disliked Shades of Twilight too for the same reason. Kill and Tell is one of my favorites of her books, and though it lacks the humor of Open Season, it has lots of similarities to the suspense plot. I haven’t read Now You See Her but have always meant to.

  3. bungluna October 8, 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

    I agree with @Chrisreader. This too is the last of my Howard keepers. Two things make this book outstanding for me: Daisy’s actions and comment when she’s stashed away in a motel for her own safety and the icky last bit. I always stop reading this book before the last bit and have convinced myself that didn’t happen. I think it’s a harbinger of Howard books to come.

    • Chrisreader October 8, 2017 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      It’s funny how much her later books changed. Daisy was so engaging and the parts with her dog were very cute without overkill. The book Howard wrote a year or two ago about the woman and her dog was borderline crazy to me. The dog was an obsession and the only thing in the woman’s life. (And this is coming from a person who treats her pets like family) I used to buy Howard in hardcover but after Open Season, I found the next book so-so and after that she was no longer an auto-buy of mine.

  4. Maggie Boyd
    Maggie Boyd October 8, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    This book is listed in my profile as one of my favorites. It has been one since I first read it and remains one today. I’ve enjoyed other novels by Howard but I think this was the pinnacle of her work. And the condom scene in the middle of the street is one of the funniest romance novel moments I’ve ever read.

  5. Nikki H October 9, 2017 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    This is one of my favorite LH books, along with the Blair Mallory books and a few others. But I’ve always felt that my least favorite LH book is better than most any other book I read.

  6. nblibgirl October 11, 2017 at 2:38 am - Reply

    @Maggie I was wondering if anyone else was going to comment on the condom scene. It makes me laugh to just think about it. Open Season is one of two LH novels that are favorites for me. (And I never really got the excitement about Mr. Perfect – it was a “meh” read for me.)

  7. nblibgirl October 11, 2017 at 2:41 am - Reply

    Oh, and that cover above . . . where did that come from? Talk about art that does NOT reflect the character of either book or MC!

  8. chris booklover October 12, 2017 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    This is one of my favorite Howard novels, partly because it maintains the balance between romance and suspense so well. I much preferred it to the earlier Mr. Perfect, which I liked but did not love because its characters were less memorable.

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