Veil of Night
I’ve read three Linda Howard books at this point, and I’ve come to the conclusion that she is an author I like but don’t love. I’ve enjoyed two out of the three, but neither of them push her into auto-buy status for me. Veil of Night has some funny moments and great sex scenes, but when all is said and done it doesn’t quite have the whole package.
Jaclyn Wilde is an Atlanta wedding/event planner who is currently dealing with the bride from hell. Carrie Edwards is like Bridezilla on steroids; she constantly makes rude, outlandish demands, and manages to piss off virtually everyone. After a particularly venomous meeting with her wedding vendors – in which she fires Jaclyn and slaps her – Carrie is found lying in a pool of blood, literally skewered by the tools that were holding sample kabobs earlier. The scene is a little surprising, but no one can really say that Carrie will be missed.
Hopewell police Detective Eric Wilder is on the investigation, but there’s one problem: He is fresh off a one night stand with Jaclyn. And since Jaclyn was both slapped and fired by the victim, she naturally lands right on the suspect list. Eric doesn’t really think that Jaclyn killed anyone, but he has to play it completely by the book. He takes her clothes (still dripping from the washer) as evidence, interviews Jaclyn’s mom (and business partner), and generally gets on her nerves. She can’t believe that she threw caution to the winds and slept with this guy.
Eric naturally wants to finish the investigation as soon as possible, because he’d like to resume sleeping with Jaclyn as soon as possible. Though she’s clearly angry, he thinks he might be able to bring her around. Matters change somewhat when Jaclyn survives an attempt on her life. The killer thinks Jaclyn will be able to identify him, so she becomes a target. With her life hanging in the balance, Jaclyn has to do some hard thinking – both about what she wants and her future with Eric.
There was a lot to enjoy about this book. Howard’s books tend to have a dark humor about them, and this is no exception. One might feel guilty laughing about a kabobbed Brizezilla, but, well – it’s funny. There are other running gags I enjoyed, many of which involved Eric’s continual quest for a decent cup of coffee.
I liked both main characters as well. Jaclyn is a bit of a snob, but she owns up about it. Mostly she’s just a nice girl who doesn’t usually have one night stands with police officers – until she meets one she can’t resist. She loves her mom, is exasperated by her flaky dad, and can’t make a decent cup of coffee. I enjoyed Eric even more. Howard writes great loves scenes and even better guy talk, and Eric shows up well in both these arenas.
It can be tough to balance romance and suspense, and this is where the book faltered. Much of the plot is centered around a suspense plot that just isn’t that compelling, since it’s obvious early on who the killer is. Eric pinpoints the perpetrator, but just has to prove it, so we’re not exactly on pins and needles. However, the not-so-riveting suspense plot still seems to take center stage while the romance gets the short shrift. A little more falling in love would have made the book a better read.
Still, it definitely has its moments. If you’re a Howard fan, I could definitely see Veil of Night working for you as a sexy, funny comfort read. It’s not perfect, but it’s entertaining.