Yesterday’s Steals and Deals offered a twofer: Linda Howard’s Dream Man and After The Night, bound in one book. It was fascinating to read the reviews and the comments on these two books. Several readers found Howard’s sexual politics deeply offensive. Others adore her macho men and terrifyingly creepy villains.
I confess–I’ve not read Howard recently. The last time I did so, it was a reread of Death Angel which, taken as an utter fantasy, held up. The first sex scene is not, however, for those who need clear consent in their stories. As Lea Hensley wrote in her review,
A woman willing to pretend adoration for a man she doesn’t even respect, Drea Rousseau is satisfied living a mindless existence in the lap of luxury. Mistress to drug lord Rafael Salinas, Drea doesn’t particularly like it when Rafael and his goons make fun of her, but she knows that behind her dumb blonde facade is a sharp mind capable of fooling them all. As she sits near Rafael one morning while he talks to a dangerous looking man she knows to be an assassin, Drea chooses to think about the color of her toenail polish rather than the conversation taking place around her. As the assassin continues to level his unnerving stare on her, he informs Rafael that he doesn’t want a cash bonus for the job just completed but instead he wants her… now.
Known only to the reader as “the Assassin” until well into the book (and only Simon thereafter), the hero is a cold-blooded killer and considered the best there is. Between jobs he appears to be a regular guy – if you can call a mysterious, sophisticated, extremely well-dressed, hunk of a hero regular. He is a careful calculating man, a master of disguise, and one who studies his employers with a high level of intensity, looking for their weaknesses so that he will always have the upper hand.
When Salinas reluctantly agrees to give Drea to Simon for the afternoon, he asks only that he not harm her, never considering for a moment if she is willing. Drea, knowing that Salinas must be tiring of her to agree to such an offer, panics both at that ugly implication as well as the thought of being alone with a terrifying assassin. What follows between Drea and Simon is intense and, beyond a doubt, extremely hot. Simon proves to be gentle yet ruthless while the incident forces Drea to examine her acceptance of her predicament. Salinas’s thoughtless actions fuel within Drea an intense desire for revenge and a determination to have a better life – at the expense of her now former lover. I must warn readers that this first encounter between Drea and Simon is not for the faint hearted and Simon’s actions come close to coercive. However, it worked for me.
What about you? Love Howard? Now, not so much? Read any of her more recent stuff? And if you do like her work, what’s your fave?