Friday, June 15, 2012

Romance in the Stacks: Open Season by Linda Howard

Open Season by Linda Howard
Find it in the catalog!
Daisy Minor is a small town librarian in Alabama, who initially seems very librarian-like.  She's in her 30s and still lives with her mom and aunt.  She hasn't been on date in years and dresses very frumpy.  Basically, she's a pair of glasses and a cat away from a perfect stereotype.  However, on her 34th birthday, she has an awakening.  She wants a husband and family.  So she gets a makeover from Todd Lawrence, a gay antiques dealer in town who once worked on Broadway.  Now blonde and fabulous, she decides to frequent nearby bars to meet men.  Unfortunately, she seems to keep running into brawny cop Jack Russo at every turn, making people think they are couple.  However, when she unknowingly witnesses something sketchy at a night club one evening, Daisy just might need Jack's help.

Praise:  This book has a definite sense of humor about it, even though the actual mystery is quite dark.  The characters are unique and quirky, not the standard romance archetypes.  Daisy is humorously naive, yet super competent and intelligent.  Jack Russo is sharp-witted and not afraid to swear (every other word or so).  But he's also good at his job and tough as nails.  Some of the interactions between Jack and Daisy are laugh out loud funny.  It definitely has more of a screwball romance vibe to it.  Howard also does a good job at portraying small town life and gossip in a lighthearted way.

Quibbles: Okay, this really isn't Linda Howard's fault or anything, but I kept on picturing Jack Russo as Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.  Both worked as police officers in New York and Chicago, and have greying hair.  The similarities are eerie!  No offense to McCarthy, but I wouldn't exactly describe him as dreamy.  Thank goodness Jack doesn't have a mustache!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  The murder mystery isn't really that much of mystery, but it kept me on edge of my seat as to how it was going to play out.  I would highly recommend the book to fans of Janet Evanovich or Meg Cabot's Heather Wells mysteries.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Romance in the Stacks: Montana Creeds: Dylan by Linda Lael Miller

Montana Creeds: Dylan by Linda Lael Miller.
Find it in the catalog!

Montana is a apparently the official state of library romance, since both The Librarian's Secret Scandal AND this book are set there.  The Montana Creeds series follows three Creed brothers: Logan, Taylor and Dylan, as they learn to tame their wild Creed ways and settle down.  In this book, we follow middle brother Dylan.  Once a hard-partying rodeo cowboy, Dylan is now trying to take care of his two year daughter Bonnie after her equally wild mother left her is his truck one night.  Dylan returns to home to Stillwater Springs to ask his lawyer brother Logan for help gaining sole custody of Bonnie.  However, once in town, he starts to develop feelings again for the town librarian, Kristy Madison, whom he dated before he got into a drunken brawl with his brothers at his dad's funeral.  Kristy is still single but really wants a family.  She is slightly wary of Dylan, but immediately taken with Bonnie. However, she has a lot on her plate right now, like the fact that they found two bodies in her parents yard and her father might have been the killer!   

Praise:  I liked the character of Bonnie.  She seemed like a realistic two year old troublemaker.  I also really liked Dylan's relationship with his brothers.  They are a bunch of stubborn, good ol' boys who reminded me a lot of the Riggins' boys on Friday Night Lights- but with a lot more money. In fact, Taylor Kitsch would be my pick to play Dylan in the movie version. 

Quibbles:  I didn't really like Kristy Madison.  I thought it was cool that she was handy and kind of a spinster (though she's only like 30 in the book), but I didn't like how baby-obsessed she was.  This plays into one creepy, but supposedly romantic love scene.  I also think it's unrealistic that she would be a perfect caretaker to Bonnie right away, despite not having any kids of her own and seeming to be an only child.  I mean, we don't even know if she babysat before taking care of Bonnie!  

I also though the plot was kind of uneven.  It seems like more attention is paid to Dylan's struggles against following in the Creed legacy of being poor parents and jerk husbands, than the murder mystery surrounding Kristy's family. I found the latter plot more interesting, but it never really built up that much suspense. Of course, being a romance book over a mystery, you kind of know how it's going to end anyhow.  Overall, this was not my favorite library romance.  I'd only recommend it to fans of the series or dreamy cowboys.