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REVIEW: Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard

Dear Ms. Howard:

Up Close and DangerousI am a big fan girl and while I haven’t loved your last few books (okay since Open Season), I still look forward to your new ones. While Up Close and Dangerous isn’t going to sit on my keeper shelf with Dream Man or After the Night or the Kell Sabin series, it still was a good read and more romantic than your previous three.

Widow Bailey Wingate is going on vacation, a much needed one. She’s currently the trustee of her two spoiled stepchildren’s trust funds and these two adult children, Seth and Tamzin, make her life hell. She decides to go on a river rafting excursion with her family and takes a corporate jet from J&L Executive Air Limo to get there. Cam Justice (the J in the J&L) has to step in to fly her when his partner becomes violently ill. Cam dislikes Bailey for being cold and stuckup every time J&L has flown her and Bailey dislikes Cam for acting like a superior ass. While flying over the mountains in Idaho, the plane runs out of fuel and Cam must make a crash landing. Bailey and Cam must use every ounce of common sense and survival skill in order to make it off the mountain alive. In making this four day journey, Bailey and Cam not only learn to rely on each other but fall in love.

While I enjoyed the story, the fact is that this story requires an excessive amount of suspension of disbelief. I had a hard time buying into the idea that Cam and Bailey went from barely knowing each other (and being disdainful of each other) to in love in a short time given their condition. I also had a hard time believing that Cam and Bailey would have enough energy to make a trek off the mountain, injured, weak, and hungry but still have the energy to have bouts of sex.

Each survival technique was chronicled so carefully that I almost thought it read like a guide to wilderness survival. Despite the methodical detailing of the characters’ mountain endurance, I found the scenes to be interesting and Bailey and Cam to be entertaining and likeable individuals. There was a lot of vintage Howard in the book: the practical and capable heroine; the dry humor; the sexy alpha male. There was instantaneous lust, but it was played off in a funny manner which made it more palatable.

The noticeable element missing was the signature scene or lack of heat that was present in my favorite books. The sex scenes seemed methodical like the survival guides. If a reader is looking for a taut suspense or thriller, this probably isn’t for them. But if Linda Howard is their thing, then this will be a good read. 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. Tara Marie
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 04:50:33

    But if Linda Howard is their thing, then this will be a good read. B-

    That’s me! I didn’t read the review, but your last line did catch my attention. I figure if you gave it a B- I’m probably going to LOVE it–LOL.

    Went to B&N yesterday but I guess it’s not officially out yet. But I did pick up NR’s High Noon, so it wasn’t a completely wasted trip.

  2. Aoife
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 05:05:00

    I read this the day it came out (the 17th) and had exactly the same reaction you did, Jane. It definitely wasn’t among Howard’s best, but after her Inferno offering, it was a profound relief to read something that at least approximated what I have loved about her writing.

  3. Rosie
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 11:18:04

    TM, our B&N had it. I skimmed the review too because I haven’t read it yet, but I HAD to check for the grade especially since I pretty much had a similar reaction to Howard’s RAINTREE book as Jane did.

  4. HelenKay
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 11:23:23

    You mentioned AFTER THE NIGHT and the Sabin series. Now I have to go dig them out and re-read them. Loved those. And DUNCAN’S BRIDE and a whole bunch more…yeah, I kind of miss her older stuff.

  5. Robin
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 12:45:04

    I think Howard was at her best with those gothic books (After the Night and Shades of Twilight). She’s one of those authors capable of thrilling me and pissing me off royally. Heartbreaker and Dream Man pissed me off something terrible (and I haven’t tried McKenzie books for fear of major pissed offness at the Native American portrayals — also what’s that book where the heroine is raped, that one is off my try list, too). But Midnight Rainbow, Diamond Bay, the first Blair Mallory book, and the gothic books — great reads. Oh, how I wish there were more guys in Romance like Kell Sabin; to me he was an authentic alpha –not showy, not bullying, but strong and in charge and sexy.

  6. Janine
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 12:48:14

    I don’t recall a Linda Howard book in which the heroine is raped. Would someone refresh my memory?

  7. Ann Bruce
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 12:50:05

    Up Close and Dangerous isn't going to sit on my keeper shelf with Dream Man or After the Night or the Kell Sabin series.

    Library it is.

    In the meantime, I’ll reread After the Night.

  8. Bev Stephans
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 13:23:49

    I have been waffling over this book. I really like Linda Howard and most of her stuff is terrific. This has received luke-warm reviews elsewhere so I’m just not sure about it.

    Please read the Mackenzie series, especially Mackenzie’s Mountain. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised. As far as I’m concerned, it’s her finest work.

  9. Jackie L.
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 16:20:01

    Pretty sure I’ve read everything LH except the sheik one (gotta draw the line somewhere), and I don’t recall a rape, Robin. Loved the Mackenzies, but they’re a bit dated now, not even Wyoming is THAT bad. What I liked about Up Close was that it was almost completely about the relationship, since the scope of the book was so limited. But, yeah, not my favorite. So glad to see Jane doesn’t share the prejudices of the SB’s!

  10. Robin
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 16:30:55

    Could it be An Independent Wife? Or Lady of the West? I don’t know since I haven’t read them — I only remember someone’s warning, so I can’t guarantee anything — heck I can’t even remember the book title against which I was warned!

  11. Miki
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 18:13:04

    There’s an “almost-rape” in Mackenzie’s Mountain, and the “re-enactment” that always squicked me out, no matter how much I loved that book overall.

    On the other hand, I actually loved Up Close and Dangerous. I loved the humor in it – and I really liked both the hero and heroine. Yes, it went from disdain to attraction fairly quickly – isn’t that par for the course with romance novels? The timelines are almost always too short for full believability IMO. But this worked for me because I could imagine how the heroine’s true nature came out in this setting. He got to see “behind the curtain” and was attracted. She was a little slower in acknowledging her attraction to him. And I got a kick out of his “19 dates” theory!

    Quite of a few of the “reviews” on Amazon made a big deal about the survival techniques getting too much “airtime”, but that really didn’t bother me. I found them interesting, and I liked how it showed the heroine’s real ingenuity. She definitely thinks on her feet! (Maybe I found this so appealing because I’m not – I’m the sort that has to stew over something for awhile, and then suddenly the solution will just click).

    Yes, I miss the sensuality of her romances. I guess I’ve just come to accept she’s not writing romances any more. I actually thought this book was really more about the romance than the mystery, and I find myself wondering – if she has male readers for her suspense novels – how well they’ll take this book. So I enjoyed the strong romance “feel” of it, despite it’s not being as sexy as it could have been.

  12. Jackie L.
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 18:15:37

    Oh,yeah, Lady of the West. Squick. Blocked that one out.

  13. Laura
    Jul 21, 2007 @ 22:12:51

    I’m a huge LH fangirl, and this was a big disappointment. The h/h never established a relationship before they were in survival mode, so there was never a chance for any tension to develop between them. For a large portion of the book, the hero was either unconcious or badly injured, so he was almost a non-entity for a significant amount of time.

    The heroine’s backstory and stepchildren are right out of a soap opera, and the “mystery” is conveniently wrapped up in the last few pages of the book.

    I used to rejoice on a LH release date. But I think I’ll pass on her hardbacks from now on, they’ve become real hit or misses for me. And like a lot of others, I miss the sensuality that used to be Linda Howard’s trademark. Sigh.

  14. Rosario
    Jul 22, 2007 @ 10:08:18

    Each survival technique was chronicled so carefully that I almost thought it read like a guide to wilderness survival.

    I started noticing that kind of methodicalness in her writing in Cry No More, and though I loved the book itself, I didn’t like the direction her writing is taking. It’s become worse in past books.

  15. dila
    Jul 22, 2007 @ 11:07:58

    is it dat bad? jeez, somehow, it’s expected isnt it?
    comparing the few last books she wrote and the old favorites like after the nite, shades of twilight and the mackenzies, it seems like somebody else is writing her stories.
    i collect almost all of LH books and had love all of them except books starting from killing time.. but i still buy them.. and cmg frm malaysia, books are not as cheap as in the states where u can get them for less than 10bucks.. up close and dangerous just came out in hardcover and its over 100 malaysian ringgit, the paperback is probably coming in next year. but if this is the review, then cover of night is going to be the last of my LH collection.

  16. Casee
    Jul 25, 2007 @ 08:57:52

    As a resident of Boise, Idaho, I have to say if I ever go hiking in the Idaho wilderness, I’ll probably take this book w/ me. Lots of tips for surviving out there. LOL

  17. Letha manous
    Nov 05, 2007 @ 11:25:55

    Linda Howard is still the best–her books are the only ones that I come back to time and time again–though I did have to read Up Close and Dangerous x2 before I fell in love with it. Absolutely the only one of her books I’ve not read 5-12 times is Cry no More–it was too heartwrenching. As for the methodical beat in her books–that is what makes them all so interesting for me–this is not really a change for this excellent author. Please go back and read Dream Man or Shades of Twilight again–these also have the same technique. The ease of detecting this may come about because so many men now read her stories–and men are famous for wanting the “how” to be delineated. I only hope she continues to write–I’d hate to have to commit her stuff to memory if nothing new comes out!

  18. Mary
    Nov 15, 2007 @ 14:18:48

    I thought that the last two books by LH were written by someone else!
    There is little story development. No build up of a relationship, and does not follow through very well. They read like a $4.99 romances! I’ve collected all of her books and think we should be reimbursed for the last two! I’ll definitely wait until the next one comes out in paperback before I even consider buying it!

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