Up Close and Dangerous
More a survival romance than romantic suspense, Linda Howard’s Up Close and Dangerous falls slightly off the mark, only to be somewhat saved by its brilliant characters.
Bailey Wingate is a widow trying to deal with overbearing step-children who happen to be older than she. She married her boss over a year ago in a business arrangement that, at the time, seemed reasonable. She was more or less hired so that she could oversee the children’s trust funds until they are of a mind to be responsible for themselves. She knew she’d never be well liked, but the open hostility threatens her sanity. She decides a vacation with her own family is in order and sets off, using the private jet services contracted by the Wingate Corporation, to Colorado and some white-water rafting.
Cameron Justice is the pilot of Bailey’s plane and has had little contact with her over the years, letting his partner in the airline deal with “the family” while he takes care of the executive flights. But as luck would have it, his partner is unable to fly that morning and it’s Cameron that has to try and land a plane whose engine just died while over the mountains of Idaho.
He does a stellar job leaving them both alive, if not a little worse for the wear. Cameron has a six inch gash in his head and a severe concussion. It’s up to Bailey to fix him up, make a shelter, and figure out what of the small plane can be of use. Bailey’s strength and endurance during this time is inspiring. In a welcome twist to the norm, big braw Cameron lies on a blanket like a dead fish watching small Bailey do the work of ten men. She’s isn’t feeling too great herself, but never lets it get the best of her. I totally get why Cameron couldn’t help falling for her.
The entire book, save a small portion, is dedicated to Bailey and Cameron’s ordeal on the mountain and how they go about getting rescued. The small section regarding the obvious sabotage of the flight, which probably counts as the suspense part, is lackluster and almost nonexistent. Not being a romantic suspense junkie myself, I didn’t miss it.
I’ve gushed over the wonderful Bailey, as I should over the equally wonderful Cameron (Texan, pilot, wicked sense of humor, and a certain body part named Good Time Charlie – need I say more?), but where Ms. Howard goes wrong is the minute by minute details of surviving on a mountain. I did gain a few useful tidbits if I am ever faced with the same situation, yet I could have picked up a survival guide for that. Minute by minute plotting isn’t all that bad if the storyline is action-packed, but nothing really happens to Bailey and Cameron on the mountain. They have to work how to eat, drink and keep warm. Not much else. No deranged mountain-man is stalking them, no grizzly bears in need of a human snack, nothing at all. Just page after page of rationing Snickers bars, checking bandages, and Bailey becoming the Wilderness version of Martha Stewart.
As much as enjoyed Bailey and Cameron – and the big reveal at the end – I cannot recommend Up Close and Dangerous. When all is said and done it’s a lot of hard work to get through just to meet a couple of interesting characters