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REVIEW: Running Wild by Linda Howard, Linda Jones

Dear Ms. Howard and Ms. Jones:

I’ve read one collaboration by you before and it was a … less than successfully executed paranormal romance. I had low expectations going into this book but I was secretly hopeful. Linda Howard’s books remain some of my favorite in the genre. I keep waiting for the magic to happen again.

Running Wild Linda HowardRunning Wild is successful on two fronts. The blend of authorial voices is seamless. I can’t tell one from the other. Second it is much more romance focused than any of the recent Linda Howard hardcovers.

The heroine is on the run from a date turned stalker turned murderer of a woman who borrowed her raincoat. Because he is a police officer and previous reports of his negative behavior were brushed off, Carlin Reed goes off the grid and finds herself in a small town in Wyoming. She obtains a job at a local cafe owned by a woman who takes pity on her or at least recognizes that she is a woman in danger. From there she gets a job as the cook/housecleaner for a large, local cattle ranch owned by Zeke Decker.

There are little surprises in this book. Zeke married poorly the first time to a woman who longed for the city lights. Initially he resists the attraction Carlin embodies. Then he resists because she works for him and he has to set a standard for his men. Carlin initially has no interest in any man and Zeke is big and brawny and a little scary to her. She serves as a competent cook and housecleaner but as the only woman on a male dominated ranch spread, she attracts attention of the men present who don’t all have good intentions toward her.

The sexual tension is fairly low and the sex scenes aren’t terribly erotic. Most were about paragraphs long and included kissing, her “guiding his penis” to her opening and a paragraph of thrusting and then its over. I felt that those scenes were half hearted inclusions to pacify readers.

But I liked the slow progression of the two falling in love. As Carlin becomes comfortable at the ranch and Zeke sees that she’s not the same as his awful city loving ex wife (eye roll), their attraction is allowed to grow naturally. Carlin keeps her secrets from Zeke, however, and always has one foot out the door, ready to leave on a moment’s notice. Zeke realizes this and wants to help.

There is a light suspense storyline due to the unresolved issue with the stalker. His position in law enforcement and his proficiency with computers makes him a formidable villain. The closing suspense scenes were frightening as an unexpected person was placed in real jeopardy.

While not perfect, this was an enjoyable read, reminiscent of the older classic Howards. I hope that the two continue to collaborate. B-

Best regards,



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Mandi
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 12:32:59

    I gave it the same grade. I really enjoyed the characters in this one…the slow build of the romance worked well too. Disappointing love scenes though -short and clinical. But glad I read it.

  2. Jane
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 12:39:30

    @Mandi: Yes, technical foul on the clinical sex scenes. Would almost rather not have them.

  3. Dabney
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 15:03:50

    @Mandi: That sound like a visit to the OB/Gyn. Not sexy at all.

  4. JessP
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 21:26:00

    Hi. Was that an early version of the cover? The one I received yesterday, and that’s up at Amazon, is different. I actually like this one better.

  5. Jane
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 07:44:25

    @JessP – It must be. I read this book a while ago and did the review at that time. I hadn’t even realized the cover has changed. Hmmm. I just went to look at the changed cover and I agree. I like this one better.

  6. Has
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 08:23:17

    I liked this one too although I was a bit wary on Carlin’s transition to domestic goddess – it kind of felt off for me and I agree about the sex scenes was lacking.

  7. REVIEW: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 08:02:37

    […] enjoying Running Wild, your collaboration with Linda Winstead Jones, I felt perhaps you had gotten your writing mojo […]

  8. gwen
    Jan 01, 2013 @ 12:02:10

    I just finished Running Wild and I really enjoyed the story. The sex scenes were hot in a way but not romantic. But, the story was good. Regarding Carlin’s transistion to domestic goddess anyone who takes the time to try new recipes and experiment can become a good cook, especially if that is your job. I learn a lot of cooking tips from the cooking shows and recipes off the internet. I have ruined lots of meals so totally felt Carlin’s struggles were realistic.

  9. attaleena geissinger
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 07:57:54

    can someone please mail me and my sister the recipe for never fail white cake we got the book from the library and someone tore out that page . My sister so wants to try that recipe lol thank you

  10. latrena
    Aug 06, 2013 @ 14:55:52

    I wanted to ask (referencing the McKenzie’s stories) did Linda Howard ever do Josh and Loren McKenzie story or even Michael’s story the other brother? Just wanted some information on it. Thanks so much, and if she hasen’t I wish she would I’d love to read them!!!!!

  11. wendy kalthoff
    Aug 31, 2013 @ 23:24:52

    I loved this book. It was suspenseful and wonderful. The characters made me care. I can’t wait for the next men of battle ridge story and the book about kat. I loved this book, and had never read any of Ms. jones books before. I ccan’t wait for the next one.

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