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Veil of Night

Starting off with a bang, wedding planner Jaclyn Wilde and Detective Eric Wilder run into each other (literally) at the courthouse one afternoon, then at a bar where they talk long enough to discover their last names are almost the same, and then gosh darn it the attraction is so strong that they find themselves together in bed that night. Oddly enough, for me that was the best part of the book as neither made any kind of excuse or justification for that action other than “Hey, (s)he is really hot and sexy and I wanted to!” I found it kind of refreshing. There is a morning after scene that made me oh so fondly recall the Linda Howard humor of the past. Eric is lying in bed contemplating how he likes women well enough for the good parts but really wishes he could avoid the complications like having to spend an hour or so the next morning talking and relating because he is a busy man and he just doesn’t have time for all that stuff. Jaclyn then pops into the bedroom, hands him a cup of coffee in a To Go cup and takes off for the shower and asks him to make sure to lock the door on the way and oh sorry, she just doesn’t have time for a chat because she is a busy woman! At this point in the book, I gave a small grin and settled in for hopefully a really enjoyable Linda Howard ride. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. First the characters – there is Eric who is pretty much a Wyatt from the Blair Mallory books wannabee. Detective cop, perfect body, perfect face .. wisecracks on demand. In fact, halfway through the book I kind of renamed him in my head as “Eric/Wyatt.” Jaclyn thank God is only 25% as irritating as Blair Mallory ever was in that she at least doesn’t spend chapters explaining to the readers how beautiful, intelligent and successful she is – that is left up to Eric/Wyatt to tell us. And tell us. And tell us. So we get a whole lot of “Jaclyn is very pretty and classy and I know she’d never murder anybody but I still have to do my job gosh darn it!” Its a real internal struggle for a guy who has spent a total of one night with the woman. Then there is a good portion of the book where Jaclyn first explains that as a wedding planner it is her job to give the Bride what she wants (the Grooms are hardly ever mentioned other than as poor saps who should probably run) and then paragraphs of Jaclyn internally mocking the taste of the Bride. There is a more than a little class snobbery in Jaclyn’s persona … Nascar (tacky), Wedding on Grandpa’s farm (Hee Haw Hell which somehow translates into a doomed marriage), high society extravaganzas (true love). As far as relationship development goes, there is the scene I described at the beginning of the book and a really quick chapter summary at the end where Eric/Wyatt explains what will probably happen in the future. Pure tell, little show. Very boring. The ninety percent of the middle of this book is taken up with the internal struggles of the two characters. Jaclyn hates Eric/Wyatt because she is a busy woman (6 weddings in 5 days) and he has the audacity to bother her with questions about a murdered woman. She glares at him. She snaps at him. There is one excruciating scene where the “stress” of being involved in a murder investigation gets to her and she stomps her feet, screams at him, calls him names, shoulder butts him a couple of times and generally acts like a petulant 4 year old who missed her nap. I guess this was supposed to be sexual tension or something but I have to say my response as a reader was more along the line of “Huh?” Are there really men who find that attractive and amusing? As a couple, these two never go on a date, they don’t discuss religious beliefs, movies, hobbies or tastes in music. They don’t kiss, hold hands, have fun together or show any affection and the boom! Jaclyn has a near death experience and next thing you know she’s decided she loves the guy. Criminy. And then she has the audacity to question the validity of the Hee Haw wedding couple’s love? As far as solving the murder goes – as other reviewers have already mentioned this whole thing was painfully obvious pretty much from the the beginning. So obvious that I spent a good deal of the book thinking that it had to be a red herring and I was in for a surprise. Pfffftttt. Oh well. Eric/Wyatt figures it out pretty quickly too, saves the day, blah blah blah blah blah. Read at your own risk but if you’re hoping for a Linda Howard turn around this isn’t it in my opinion.

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