To Die For

Linda Howard
2005, Romantic Suspense
Ballantine, $7.99, 378 pages, Amazon ASIN 0345476255
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Warm

Linda Howard's last few books were intense with a capital I. Based on the dark moody cover and the dark moody title, the gentle reader might expect another dark moody book like Cry No More. But To Die For is a total change of pace for Linda Howard.

When Blair Mallory caught her husband kissing her 17-year-old sister, she divorced his sorry self, took her share of the divorce settlement, and opened a health club called Great Bods. Blair knows her stuff, works hard, and the club does very well. Of course in every business, there are always a few problem customers, and at Great Bods, the problem is Nicole Goodwin. Nicole has been acting troublesome and odd. She's changed her appearance to make herself look like Blair and she's been rude to other members and the staff, so when it's time to renew her membership, Blair refuses to do it. Nicole throws a hissy fit and storms out.

Later that evening as Blair is going to her car, someone takes a shot at her and kills Nicole, who was hanging around the parking lot. When the police show up, the Lieutenant in charge is Wyatt Bloodsworth. Blair and Wyatt dated a couple of times several years ago and the chemistry between them was strong - and I mean strong! But when Wyatt didn't call her anymore, Blair got mad at him and she hasn't forgiven him. But the chemistry is still there - and how. Now, Wyatt is determined to solve the mystery and get back in Blair's good favor. She wants to make him grovel but... did I mention the potent chemistry between them?

This is the lightest suspense novel I have ever read. The suspense only kicks in to get the story started, and then, when the book is about 99 percent over, we find out who did the shooting. For the rest of the book, we are with Blair and Wyatt and what a pair they are!

When it comes to books told in the first person, I'm fairly easy to please. If I like the narrator, I usually like the book. And I really liked Blair, despite myself. Blair is an ex-cheerleader. She's blond too. And cute - Blair is really cute. Oh yeah she's toned and buff to the max. Blair is also smart, a good businesswoman, and the Queen of Snark. I'd love to be her friend. We spend the whole book in Blair's head which, since she is fond of snarky observations, is a lot of fun. Practically every page caused me to smile, smirk or just laugh out loud.

Most of the humor in the book is based on the differences between the sexes. Blair is very feminine without being a girly-girl while Wyatt is so masculine he clanks when he walks. Since we are not privy to Wyatt's thoughts, we have to base our opinion of him on his actions, and based on those, he is a dear. He has a lot of faults, but they are not bad ones. He's overprotective, doesn't talk much (and sometimes he doesn't listen very well) but he's honest, decent and nice as can be. Watching him and Blair together is simply delightful.

There's so much in the book that I liked that I could not even begin to list all the little things, but I have to mention the movie scene. Blair realizes that she and Wyatt have been living together, but have never gone out on a date, so they decide to watch a movie. All I'll say is, when she wants a chick flick and he wants a dick flick, something has to give. I'll let you discover what happens.

Blair has two sisters and they show up enough times to really pique my curiosity. I know that some readers are not fond of family sagas, but I am. Umm, please Linda Howard - may I have a trilogy?

LLB: To Die For is my first (and possibly only) romance DIK of 2005. I can honestly counsel all of you out there who, like me, are not fans of romantic suspense: Ellen's right. This is romantic suspense light, with the focus on a wonderful sexy, fun, and romantic relationship. This book is simply terrific, and as is fairly rare, I think for me and Ellen, I actually loved this book while she (only) liked it a whole, whole lot. Blair is wonderful, and both Wyatt and the book are to die for.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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