I'd never read a book by Linda Howard before (she's written such things as Cry No More, Dying to Please, Kill and Tell, and Mr. Perfect) until I decided to take a flier on her latest romantic thriller, To Die For. Why? I don't know. Sometimes, it seems, you need a little cotton candy for the mind.
Blair Mallory is a pretty, confident woman on the cusp of thirty. She's leading the good life while running her upscale fitness club and tooling around town in the red Mercedes convertible she got in the divorce from her cheating husband, Jason (Blair caught him kissing her then-seventeen year old sister Jenni, took a picture, and the rest, as they say, was history – Jason didn't want anything to interfere with his political aspirations, so he willingly paid through the nose for a sense of security – and the negatives). But then an obnoxious "copycat" who had developed a strange fixation on Blair (and who even insists on wearing her hair in the same way) is killed in the parking lot of Blair's "Great Bods" fitness center, and Blair witnesses the murder.
The resulting investigation puts Blair back in contact with Wyatt Bloodsworth, the former NFL player turned small-town cop who dumped her unceremoniously two years before. As romantic tensions flare between them and Blair is stalked by an unknown killer, Blair and Wyatt must locate the murderer before anyone else is hurt. But not too quickly, or there won't be sufficient opportunity for our two beautiful people to fall into bed with one another. Repeatedly. Because every time Wyatt touches Blair's neck, well, she can't take it. And he seems to locate her neck with greater frequency than he searches for any killer, but perhaps his assignment was some sort of protective custody, not investigation.
The book opened promisingly enough, with Howard writing it in the first person and Blair's story being recounted as if by some sort of blonde bimbo cheerleader variant of the hard-boiled detective. I actually wasn't quite sure what I was getting into: I thought it would be a bit of a thriller, and the opening suggested that (hey, there was a mention of a murder on page two). But by the time Blair called the cops to report the murder and ol' Wyatt showed up, the tale turned into an R-rated Harlequin romance: kind of like something you might see on late night cable, where a decent story is buried beneath lots of sex and babes in bikinis because – well, just because. Wyatt and Blair can't seem to keep their hands off each other, and Howard can't seem to stop writing about them not being able to keep their hands off each other (though it doesn't really come across as particularly erotic – on occasion, it seems rather clinical).