Dear Ms. Howard:
It’s a good thing that you are going back to writing romances because Cover of Night is not a romance. It is a suspense book with a romantic theme. Frankly, it's
a shitty not a very good suspense book. The setup, which pits the town of Trail Stop against a band of professional killers, is ridiculous beyond belief strains the edges of credulity.
The first half of the book is spent setting up the conflict. No real action takes place in the first 70 pages. There is little meaningful interaction between Cate and Cal, two of the protagonists (not to mention the most boring sex scene ever in a Linda Howard book). More than half the book is spent in the minds of the antagonists and watching the antagonists get their operation together (and watching it fall apart).
I found it hard to believe that these killers could stay in business or be the “best” when the whole operation turned into a giant mess. The killers were only the “best” because you told me they were. Not because they evinced any abilities to succeed on their own. You continued the telling v. showing throughout the entire book. Cate and Cal fell in love because you wanted it to be so, not because their attraction for each other grew from their characters. After all, Cate doesn't even begin to have feelings for Cal until the latter 1/3 of the story.
What little romance there was took a back seat to everything else: Cate's coming to grips with her grief over the loss of her husband, one killer's vendetta against the man who employs him, the group of killers' attempts to achieve the goal by the employer. There were a number of scenes that were complete throwaways in that they did not advance the plot or add dimension to the characters. Finally, the denouement is
crap of great disappointment. It reminded me of the Andromeda Strain where the killer virus mutates into one that is non lethal.
I would characterize it as a suspense book with a strong romantic thread rather than a romance book with a suspense thread. The romance takes a definite back seat to the suspense. To a great degree, I felt that you were much more interested in the villians than you were with the main protagonists. In the end, because of the unbelievable plot and the boring characters, I could barely finish the book. C- for you.