Sometimes there’s one angle of a story keeps you enthralled, even if you aren’t buying other aspects of the story. I do a lot of hiking and camping in wilderness areas and after reading this book I have to say I am really glad Australia doesn’t have bears. Although seriously – what about this cover says “book contains woman running from man eating bear plot line”? Whoever did the cover design for this should be shot (or chased by a bear).
Scary bear, scary bear, scary bear…
Quote that best sums up the lead (female) character:
“He didn’t start naming off items, double-checking to make sure she’d packed them, simply nodded and swung the heavy saddlebags over his own shoulder before heading down. He trusted her to know what she was doing, she realised, a lump forming in her throat. Of course, she knew that she knew what she was doing, but it meant something that Dare took her expertise for granted.”
Linda Howard is one of my favourite romantic suspense authors. My copies of her books are some of the most worn and tattered from overuse in my library. I’ll be honest, I don’t think Prey isn’t up to her normal standards. But it’s still better than most romantic suspense out there.
The premise of Prey is pretty basic. Angie Powell works as a wilderness guide but has had to make the decision to sell because a new guide (Dare Callahan, our hero) has taken all of her business. It’s during one of her last trips that Angie discovers the body of a human killed by a bear. But it turns out one of her clients has set up the trip to murder the other, so things go to hell in a hand-basket. Never fear though, Dare has gone up the mountain to check on Angie so you know she’ll be okay in the end.
There were several things I could have lost from this book, the main one being the murderous client. To be frank the bear attacks were terrifying enough on their own. The bears p.o.v. scenes and the first killing were gruesome. So to me the crime/murder plot line was unnecessary. I was never worried about the bad guy finding them but I was terrified about where the bear was at all times. Not only that it felt unrealistic.
In some ways I thought it was clever that Ms Howard established early on that Dare hadn’t been deliberately stealing Angie’s business, it was simply that he was better and more marketable to the normal clientele. Angie failed to establish herself to a market that would prefer a woman guide so she lost business. Unfortunately, the down side of that being established so early on is that it was so obvious how the two businesses could work together there was no tension on that front. Oh, and the whole first wedding business, yeah – could have lost that as well. It just wasn’t needed.
But there were sections of this books that were pure Howard genius. The scenes where Angie was hiding from the bear and trying to get down the mountain despite her injuries were gripping in their intensity. In those scenes she turned into a character with guts and heart. You could almost feel her pain and determination as she fought to keep going. Dare and Angie’s chemistry was palpable right from the start, with good build up and banter between the two. I loved that he was worried any time she didn’t have a (verbal) shot at him. Oh, and there is one fantastic “missionary” sex scene.
It’s these scenes which make it easy for me to recommend you give this book a go. Is it at the level of Howard’s best work? No. But it’s still worth your time – if you don’t mind being afraid of bears.
This was one of those cases where I think the audio made the book. The skill of the narrator meant that during certain scenes, which I probably would have skimmed over if reading in paper form, I was held in a vice-like-grip – knowing what was coming but unable to avoid it. When Angie first finds the body is one of these times. From the instant she went near the creek I knew what was coming. Didn’t make it any less horrifying.