Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Perfect 10:

VEIL OF NIGHT - Linda Howard
A Perfect 10
Ballantine Books (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0-345-50689-4
August 2010
Romantic Suspense

Hopewell, Alabama; Present Day

For Jaclyn Wilde, the next week will be a killer. First, she forgot to pay a speeding ticket, and it's the last day. That means a trip to pay in person before meeting with Carrie Edwards, a bride who defines the term bridezilla. And that's all before the six weddings booked for the next five days. Jaclyn and her mother, Madelyn, are partners in Premier, a successful event planning firm. They are fortunate in both having competent assistants, but Jaclyn will need all the tact and control she can muster to smooth things over with the vendors Carrie has alienated one by one with her outrageous demands. Before the day is done, however, there are two bright spots in Jaclyn's day. The first is literally bumping into a hot guy as she exits the town hall; it's the closest encounter she's had with a man in ages. The second good thing happens when she stops in a bar at the end of the day to treat herself to a drink. It happens to be a cop bar, where Hopewell P.D. Detective Eric Wilder is relaxing with a beer.

Eric watches the classy woman who had bumped into him earlier that day enter and take a seat by herself. After concluding she hasn't come in to meet anyone or to be picked up—she politely turns down a young uniform cop—Eric gives in and approaches her. Whether it's the bad day, the attraction she'd immediately felt when their bodies collided, or a combination of both, Jaclyn does something she never does...

Whew! Talk about Wilde and Wilder!

When someone murders Carrie Edwards the next day, the list of people with motives is a long one, with Jaclyn as number one. Unfortunately for her, Jaclyn appears to be the last person to see Carrie alive after a meeting with the vendors in which Carrie makes a nasty scene.

Hopewell P.D. is shorthanded, so Eric can't be spared in the murder investigation; he just has to play everything by the book and show no favoritism toward Jaclyn, even though he believes her innocent. Too bad she doesn't realize that.

VEIL OF NIGHT is simply terrific. It has wit, great characters in Jaclyn and Eric as well as in the supporting cast, and a cozy mystery to solve. The novel is fast paced with often-humorous dialogue and likable players. The story is shown from both protagonists' points of view with the occasional view from Jaclyn's mother's POV. I haven't given you much of a look at Eric, but, trust me, you'll enjoy him.

Last November, I gave Ms. Howard's ICE a rare Perfect 10. This novel is lighter in mood than that danger-filled suspense, but no less riveting. I'm giving VEIL OF NIGHT another Perfect 10.

Jane Bowers

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