Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones

Running Wild (The Men from Battle Ridge #1)

Genre : Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense

ARC Netgalley

Carlin Reed lives in fear, off the grid, moving from place to place. So Battle Ridge, Wyoming, a small town in the middle of nowhere, seems like a good place to lie low for a while. But after becoming cook and housekeeper to cattle rancher Zeke Decker, Carlin suspects that she’s made her first mistake. Rugged, sexy, and too distracting for his own good, Zeke is pure temptation mixed with something deep and primal that makes Carlin feel almost safe. Soon things are getting way too hot in the kitchen.

Zeke doesn’t challenge Carlin’s terms: cash, dead bolts, and no questions. It is easy to see that she’s a woman in trouble. Problem is, he’s so blindsided by his attraction to her he can’t think straight. Zeke tries to stay all business, no complications—but that game plan is sabotaged the second Carlin gets under his skin. And when her terrifying past follows her to the ranch, Carlin faces a heartbreaking choice: run away from the man she loves, or put him in the crosshairs of a madman

Linda Howard is my favorite author and I’ve been waiting for her new installment. Was the waiting worth? Given my rating is 3.5 stars, I guess maybe.

This book wasn’t her strongest. Not as good as Mr.Perfect, Open Season, or even MacKenzie series but way better than her newest books, Veil of Night, Ice or Burn. That being said, Running Wild was great romance novel. It was nicely written (as we know it, LH is superb writer). Great dialogue with plenty humor. Though the storyline was a standard woman on the run premise, it was interesting and quite engaging.

Lets talk about the character. Carlin Reed, describe as a pretty woman, not outrageously beautiful, she was an average woman with decent job and ended stalk by an obsessive cop. She was sassy and smart-ass. A strong woman (survive being on the run for months).
The hero, A.Z Decker or Zeke. I felt he wasn’t really an alpha hero. Yes there was moments where we could see her protective strike an his macho act. But,  compared with other LH’s heroes he wasn’t an alpha. He’s a strong man with high confident and responsible person. Describe as a gorgeous and handsome cowboy but also a hard worker.  The relationship between the build in slow pace and it was sweet to watch their interaction banter. Their banter added the humor atmosphere into the story. Their dialogue was hilarious, though not much.

“Holy crap! You lied. You lied like a yellow dog, with apologies to the dog.”
Dark brows drew together, eyes narrowed. “Lied?” he repeated softly.
She pointed into the kitchen. “The cows do live in the house!”
He turned his head to give the kitchen a slow, considering look. Then, damn him, a very pleased smile curved his lips. “Should keep you busy for a while,” he said cheerfully.

I’m fond of your balls,” she said abruptly.
A wary look came into his eyes. “So am I.”
“I don’t love them, but they’re endearing in a cute, wrinkly kind of way. I don’t want to hurt them – you.”
“Let me give you a tip, buttercup: you don’t tell a man his balls are cute.”
“You’re tough enough to take it. I’d be lying if I said they were pretty.”

The storyline wasn’t weight with suspense. The stalker threat was only a shadow without much of action. Only in the beginning and the end of the story we could see face to face with the real threat. There is also minor villain but quickly solved. The secondary character was a nice addition. It showed another layer of personality of the hero and heroine.

With quite an appreciation why I gave this book 3.5 stars? Let’s peel them off. The beginning was slow and not really a catcher. I felt bored for the first few pages. Though the romance was sweet but I wasn’t totally involved emotionally with the couple. The heroine got too much inner self dialogue. I wanted more interaction and dialogue between hero and heroine which showed their emotional depth. I liked the characters but I didn’t felt I knew both the hero and the heroine as I hoped to be.  As a reader I felt them at a distance. Maybe because the book written with 2 authors I didn’t get the Linda Howard vibes. If I read it without knew who the author was I couldn’t even guess it was her book. That being said the collaboration of Howard and Jones writing together was satisfying and it works well.

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