Cover of Night
You can count on Linda Howard for a lot of things and one of them is that the author certainly doesn’t repeat herself!
With this compulsive page-turner, Linda Howard turns her immense talents to telling a tale of a small, isolated town under siege by unknown forces. A tale of group psychology and dynamics almost as much as it is a rockin’ tale of romantic suspense, Cover of Night is a past-faced story certain to satisfy Ms. Howard’s many readers.
Widow Cate Nightingale runs a small B&B in the tiny town of Trail Stop, Idaho. Though most of her clientele consists of climbers who visit the area in order to take advantage of the magnificent mountains, she also does a brisk business serving up breakfast to the town’s few – very few – citizens. Relocated from Seattle with her now four-year old twin sons, Cate’s move to Idaho allowed her to create an independent and secure life for herself and her children far away from the memories of the husband she loved.
One of the town’s citizens is one Cal Harris. In Cate’s eyes, Cal is a rather nondescript handyman who has trouble even uttering a single sentence in her presence. (Hmm, do you think there might just be more to big ol’ Cal?) He has become an indispensable support to Cate who as often as not takes his payment for fixing the pipes or nailing down a roof tile in a fresh cup of coffee.
Things go awry in Cate’s world when she discovers one morning that a guest has disappeared, seemingly through a window of all things, leaving his personal possessions still in his room. Alarmed even further by mysterious calls about his whereabouts, Cate is stunned when two men arrive at the B&B, telling Cate that she’s got something they want. While Cate and her friend Neenah are held at gunpoint, handyman Cal shows an entirely different side of himself by out-menacing the menacers who end up leaving in disgrace.
Skulking away isn’t something hired killers take to very kindly, and when they discover that what they’re looking for – it’s mob-related and really not that important to the story – isn’t in the items that Cate gave them, the two hatch a diabolical plan to take the entire town of Trail Stop hostage. Within a very few days and with the help of some additional truly unsavory characters, that’s exactly what they do.
Since the siege of the town and its denizens forms the bulk of this story, that’s just about all I feel comfortable telling you about the plot. Suffice it to say that Cal and his former commanding officer who also lives in the community (and who also just might have a hankering for a local woman just as Cal does) are ready to spring into action to lead the fight to defend the town – and the women – they love. (Though the women themselves also prove to be pretty heroic!)
What I liked very much about the book was the sheer tautness of the story. While Ms. Howard doesn’t skimp on characterizations, the action adds up to the primary reason to go to this party.
If I have a quibble, because of the compressed nature of this story that takes place over the course of a few eventful days, I found it stretched my credulity a bit for two women to go from “wow, I didn’t even know you liked me!” to planning for their weddings. I totally bought the romances (and really enjoyed the secondary one as much as the primary, I have to say), but the rushed-up HEAs struck me as a bit false. I would have been just as happy for the two couples to simply be together in the end without assurances that weddings were immediately on the way.
Still, how minor is that quibble? The far bigger story is that once again the fabulous Linda Howard delivers yet another fabulous novel. Now how long is it that we have to wait for Blair’s new book?