Monday, January 19, 2009

Review: Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard

Title: Up Close and Dangerous
Author: Linda Howard

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: April 29, 2008
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345486536
ISBN-13: 9780345486530

Bailey Wingate's scheming adult stepchildren are surprised when their father's will leaves Bailey in control of their fortune, and war ensues. A year later, while flying in a small plane, Bailey nearly dies herself when the engine sputters——and then fails. Cam Justice, her sexy Texan pilot, manages to crash-land the aircraft. Stranded in the wilderness, and struggling to douse her feelings for the ruggedly handsome man by her side, Bailey begins to wonder whether this terrifying incident was actually a murder attempt. Cut off from the world, and with little hope of rescue, Bailey must trust her life——and her heart——to Cam, as they battle the harsh elements to find a way out of the unforgiving wilds and back to civilization...where a killer may be waiting to finish the job.

My rating:

Although everyone believes Bailey Wingate is yet another trophy-wife, her marriage to Jim Wingate was merely a business arrangement. Jim needed someone to oversee the trust funds of his two adult, good-for-nothing children and Bailey, as his PA and quite investment savvy, was the perfect choice.
Now Jim's dead and Bailey has to suffer through endless tantrums from her step-children, who hate her guts.

Apparently they hate her enough to kill her, since, while flying to her two-week vacation, her Cessna runs out of gas and it's only thanks to the calmness of her pilot, Cameron Justice, that Bailey, the plane and the pilot don't splatter over a mountain top.

Now the two are stranded in the snowy wilderness with (almost) zero chance of being rescued, having to rely on their own ingenuity and each other...

This was one heck of a book. In someone else's "hands" the almost claustrophobic atmosphere with just two characters and a whole lot of wilderness would have buried the story, yet Linda Howard skillfully maneuvered the plot, masterfully twining the scenes with Bailey and Cam with little tidbits about the secondary characters.

While the romance did seem a little rushed at times, especially toward the end (the two didn't even like each other at the beginning!), the explanation was utterly plausible and believable. Stranded for six days with only one person for company, one is bound to develop some feelings toward their companion...
Bailey and Cam were nicely drawn and Bailey's development extremely well done, adding a tad more to making the story-arc believable.

I was surprised by how well the suspense part played out. The author masterfully led the reader to assume who the bad-guy was (wonderful delineation of the character, his inner turmoil, the hide-and-seek of clues), making the grand finale with its humongous and completely unexpected twist that more jaw-dropping.

Kudos to the author. This is definitely a keeper.


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