I need to qualify everything I write by saying I'm a Linda Howard Fangirl. So, realistically, I'm predisposed to loving everything she writes, but if I'm honest, I haven't really loved anything since Open Season.
Cate Nightingale is a widow with twin 4 year old boys. The kids are cute, funny and typical 4 year olds, and believe me I know 4 year olds. They live in a teeny tiny town in Idaho, Trail Stop, less than 100 people, actually it may be less than 50 people. She owns a Victorian B&B that caters to rock climbers and hunters. She and her husband were regular visitors to the area and avid climbers.
Cal Harris is the town handy man, and is sweet on Cate, blushes and stammers whenever he's near her. And of course, there's much more to Mr. Harris than Cate realizes.
Joshua Creed, local guide, and retired Marine and Cal's best friend.
Neenah Dase, feed store owner and ex-nun, born and raised in Trail Stop and Cate's closest friend in town.
The Town Folks, interesting mix of characters, mostly middle aged and older.
The Bad Guys, hit men sent to find someone extorting money from a Chicago mobster, and 4 locals from just outside of Trail Stop.
Trail Stop, the town itself becomes a character, it's the end of the road. Literally. There's one road in and one road out and it ends at the base of a mountain.Cate's B&B isn't all that busy, but she supplements her income by providing breakfast for what seems like the entire town. Cal seems to be a regular visitor fixing anything and everything that goes wrong in the house, her boys adore him and follow him around like puppies.
One of Cate's guests goes missing. He's paid in advance with a credit card and slips out through a window. The "local" police are notified, but nothing's really wrong as he's paid his bill. But something's not right and two hit men come looking for the missing guest and terrorize Cate and Neenah. Cal comes to the rescue and the hit men are allowed to leave with a the missing guest's suitcase. For me this is the weakest part of the book. Cal could easily have taken complete control of the situation, yet they allows them to leave with what they're looking for. Only what there looking for isn't in the suitcase. Cate's mom has been visiting from Seattle while all this happens, and they decide to send the boys back with her mom for a couple of weeks.
They (the hit men) hire local thugs to put the town under siege, figuring what they're looking for is still somewhere in the B&B. They think this will be easy as there's only one way in and out, and the town is filled with middle aged and elderly folk. Ah, but Idaho folk can take care of themselves and will fight to protect their little town.
When we reach the end we've got dead bad guys and two HEA endings. The book is filled with humorous and sad moments and lots of action.
Is it perfect? Nope, but for me it's a keeper. AAR gave it a B+, I'd give it an A-, but hey I'm a fangirl.
Have a good one and happy reading--I'm 50 pages into the Quinn.