Fiction: “Up Close And Dangerous” by Linda Howard

up close and dangerousHoo boy.  HOO BOY. Hoooooly shit. I –

Note From The Past: Dear Alaina. You are writing this at 11:16 p.m. on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. You are writing this out of order because you have a lot of

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and you don’t want to be scratching your head in seven or eight months when you finally get around to this book in the pecking order, and wonder what the fuck it was about.

IT WAS ABOUT SOME BULLSHIT, I HOPE TO GOD I’LL REMEMBER THAT MUCH

*deep breath* Okay. Here it goes. (Don’t edit this, Future!Alaina – I mean, if there’s some grammatical shit or something, that’s fine, but – I feel like this entry needs to be pure. Pure like Dynasty.)

(Maaaaaan, I hope I still love Dynasty in seven or eight months.)

(Note From The Future: YOU ABSOLUTELY DO STILL LOVE DYNASTY IN SEVEN OR EIGHT MONTHS. Celia Machado DIED and Alexis lived in a HOSPITAL FOR TWO WEEKS and she came back to Dynasty Manor in a red crazy pantsuit AND AN OLD PERSON SCOOTER and she accidentally knocked Celia’s urn off the table AND KILLED HER AGAIN and Alaina? THAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST TEN MINUTES OF THE SEASON PREMIERE ❤ ❤ ❤ )

So ….. hi. How are ya. Did y’all watch the Town Hall on CNN with the kids from Stoneman Douglas? I did. And it actually put me in a better mood and calmed me down from my RAGEFIRE that this fucking book put me in.

I haven’t been reading much lately, but what I have been reading has been absolute trash. (Just scroll down in the blog; you’ll see.) And the last time I was at the library, I picked up three romance novels from authors that I’ve either read before and thought I enjoyed or have heard of and wanted to try. (That’s going to be a sentence you’ll want to edit in seven or eight months.) (Hey, did I mention I took two melatonin before attempting to write this? This will be fun! or else.)

I may have read something by Linda Howard a while ago, but I can’t recall if I did, which title it was, or when I read it. So while at the library, I was in the mood for some good ol’ romantic suspense – something along the same lines as Sandra Brown’s Charade, or Catherine Coulter-ery-yet-much-better-written. I wanted some sex in my violence, and no, I’m not ashamed to admit that.

The book jacket synopsis of Up Close and Dangerous sounded intriguing, so I took it home.

A mysterious plane crash … a dangerous trek through the Idaho wilderness … a smoldering attraction … and a deadly game of cat and mouse. […]

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 from Seattle to Denver in a small plane, Bailey nearly dies herself when the engine sputters – and then falls.

Cam Justice –

Yeah, his name is Cameron Justice. Cam for short. He’s a pilot. I just – sorry. I’ll go on.

Cam Justice, her sexy Texan pilot –

[RECORD SCRATCH]

I mean, really? He has to be from Texas? Do all pilots come from Texas? I have never read a contemporary romance starring a male pilot that does not come from Texas. Just once I’d like to read something where the pilot is from, I dunno, how about Duluth?

So I thought the premise sounded interesting. Someone sabotaged their plane and wanted to kill Bailey! This will be different and in no way terrible!

Reader, I was wrong.

First off – there is entirely too much about survival tactics in this book. And yeah, I get it, plane crashed, they survived, but there are injuries, how do rich people survive in the wilderness after a plane crash? I mean, it’s not like there are literally dozens of these types of stories in media [Lost, The Mountain Between Us, Soap Operas, Air Force One (because why not?), I’m sure there are more, there’s probably been a brand new one in the seven or eight months that have passed since writing this cover of The Rant Song]!

SERIOUSLY. AT ONE POINT THIS HAPPENS –

Faced with the brutal cold of a night at high altitude, they could either live together or die separately. [p. 122]

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Fuckin’ Lost.

So here’s the other thing about this book that I think I need to get off my chest before I continue –

I did not finish reading this.

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I KNOW.

Look, I know what I said four years ago, wherein, thanks to a dear friend –

hahahaha I know the melatonin’s starting to kick in cuz I just realized two things:

  • I was going to say “thanks to a dear friend whose vehicle is still abandoned in a parking garage over a year later[*]”, but then I remembered that I actually named that friend in the review that I’m linking to up there, and maybe I shouldn’t make that link so fucking explicit? but then —
  • I did the thing anyway

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[*Note From The Future: The car was FINALLY towed in April of 2018. By my estimate, it was abandoned in the parking garage for sixteen months.]

ANYWAY. I have tried very very hard to finish reading every book I start. But I couldn’t do it with this one. The writing is scores better than anything Catherine Coulter or Laurell K. Hamilton have ever put out – and yeah, I get it, that’s not saying much, but still – but I couldn’t power through it.

Because Cam Justice is a fucking dick.

There’s this whole shit in the beginning of the book about how Bailey keeps her walls up to keep from getting emotionally messy with people. HI THAT’S A PERSONAL SHOUT OUT TO ME AND I TAKE OFFENSE TO THAT. And Cam gets concussed during the crash landing and Bailey takes care of him and it’s weird to him, because he thought she was a stuck-up bitch.

If he’d ever wondered what it would be like to be marooned with her, which he hadn’t, he’d have been certain she would be either a whiny, useless, royal pain in the ass, or a bitchy, demanding, royal pain in the ass. Either way, she’d have been a PITA. [p. 89]

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But THIRTY PAGES LATER, he decides he’s going to “make her his”. They were lying together – laying together? Y’know, fuck it, I am taking a moment and saying I don’t give a shit which verb it should be there. They were laying side by side in the shelter Bailey managed to cobble together, and they were embracing pretty much to conserve body heat so they didn’t freeze, when Cam gets a bit of an erection.

So this happens:

Bailey, though, had all the signs of being difficult. She hadn’t been embarrassed by his hard-on, but neither had she shown the least bit of interest. Because she’d been married he had to assume she wasn’t a lesbian, so she was either totally, completely uninterested in him, or it was those damn walls she’d built around herself. [p. 126]

I’mma stop you right there for a second. I’m not actually done with that paragraph, but I gotta —

WHY CAN’T IT BE BOTH? WHY CAN’T SHE BE COMPLETELY UNINTERESTED IN HIM, AND HAVE WALLS SHE’S BUILT AROUND HERSELF? WHY ARE THOSE TWO THOUGHTS MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, CAM?!

And, what, a woman doesn’t take an interest in small talk, and that makes her …. a lesbian?

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Fuck off, Cam Justice. Like that’s even your real name.

 So the paragraph ends like this:

Either way, he was anticipating a challenge. He almost smiled in predatory satisfaction. [p. 126]

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“Maybe it’s the concussion,” I said. “Maybe I’m inflating what was going on. Maybe this will all make sense and NOT SEEM SO RAPEY in a hundred pages.”

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Nope – kept getting worse.

This is after he realizes the plane was sabotaged – and not in the fun, Beastie Boys way.

She was completely unprepared for the way his expression changed, morphing from the cold, set anger of the past several minutes to something that was almost more alarming. His gaze grew heated, the curve of his mouth that of a predator closing in on his prey. [p. 190-191]

Let me unpack this for you. Cam Justice is able to walk around under his own power – it’s been a couple of days since the crash – and he’s just learned that a) his plane was tampered with to crash and b) Bailey Wingate or whatever her name is was the target, he was just supposed to be collateral damage. But he puts a silver lining on the crash – now that they’re stranded together, he’s found out that Bailey’s not actually a bitch, and also, she’s attractive and not wearing a bra.

From Bailey’s perspective – which is what that quoted-above paragraph is supposed to be showing us – his predatory look is almost more alarming than his “shit someone tried to kill us” look.

AND THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE HOT, APPARENTLY.

“Alaina,” you must be thinking, “let’s be real. You’ve read some shit. You read The Maze, willingly. You’re sitting there, right now, thinking about actually reading the next book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, and that shit is terrible. Are you seriously telling us, your three readers, that this misogyny that is actually typical for this type of novel so offended you that you stopped reading?”

Yes. Yes, I am.

Picture it – Sicily. (Wait, no.) I’m on the elliptical, and I’m reading this while I’m working out. Cam Justice has just figured out that they can use the dead battery (or whatever) to start a fire, and they’re all excited that they figured out thermodynamics. They’ve got a fire going, and then this happens:

“I’m being honorable here,” he said, slanting a glittering look at her, “and giving you fair warning. But this is probably the only time, so don’t get used to it.”

She started to ask, Fair warning about what? but was afraid she knew the answer. Maybe “afraid” was the wrong word. Alarmed, yes. Annoyed. Terrified. And most of all, excited.

“When I thought we would be rescued, I tried my damnedest not to do anything to scare you off,” he said as casually as if they were discussing the stock market. “I knew you’d be back on your own territory, able to call the shots and avoid me if I made my move too soon. But now, I know rescue isn’t coming, and I have you to myself for days, maybe as long as a couple of weeks. It’s only fair to tell you I plan to have you naked in a day or so, once we’re at a warmer altitude and we’re stronger, feeling better.” [p. 206]

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distaste
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LIKE, FOR FUCKS SAKE

REALLY

“I wanted to let you know that I’m going to have sex with you, whether you want to or not, because the plane crashed and we’re alone in the wilderness.”

FUCK RIGHT OFF WITH THIS BULLSHIT

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OH MY GOD I AM SO ANGRY ALL OVER AGAIN

“Wait, wait, Alaina – maybe she turned him down? You stopped reading, you don’t know that for sure!”

Hi, have you met me? I’m Harry Burns. I read the end of the book, motherfuckers!

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They sleep together. It’s inevitable. There’s the usual, “I don’t know if I should sleep with him” equivocation, but it comes from a place of “I’ve put up all these walls and I don’t want to be emotionally vulnerable,” and not from the “HE IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOUR TRAUMA TO USE YOU SEXUALLY HOW DO YOU NOT FUCKING SEE THAT” place.

I was so angry –

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But also, I ended up leveling up my elliptical level by about 50 – I started pedaling so hard because I was SO FUCKING ANGRY, I think I burned about seventy billion calories.

I can’t remember the last time a book made me angry. I am so mad that that type of arrogance on the part of the male character was common and expected and not fucking challenged at any point in the editing process.

So. I stopped reading it. I’m taking it back to the library tomorrow, and good riddance to it. But now it’s 1 a.m., and I really should be asleep. Maybe Future!Alaina has some other thoughts, but for now, Present!Alaina is going to try and erase this book from her poor, traumatized tired brain.

Note From The Future: Future!Alaina has no other thoughts; Past!Alaina did a pretty good job, all in all.

Grade for Up Close and Dangerous: Twilight Stars

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