Veil of Night
by Linda Howard
The first time I picked up a Linda Howard book, the experience didn't go well for me. But I don't like to blow off an author completely until I'm sure I will, one hundred percent, never read said author again. Because in spite of the crazy chaos of the first Linda Howard book I chose to read, I still found the writing witty and serviceable.
Not long after that, I threw Veil of Night onto my reading list for good measure.
Veil of Night is probably the Linda Howard book I should have started reading first. I've since then read another enjoyable book by Howard, but at the time, that book didn't exist.
Veil of Night isn't the best outlined book ever written, but it wouldn't have given me such a bad taste after reading it. So I guess I'm glad for second chances.
Of course, after giving it some time to think things through, I DID find that, despite how enjoyable this book was, it didn't escape my notice how much some of the story events didn't sit well with me.
Jaclyn Wilde is a wedding planner who is moving up in her business. Owning and operating Premier with her mother has proven to be a great start to a great career. Sure, she has to deal with the occasional bridezilla, like Carrie Edwards--a bride-to-be who seems to think the world revolves around her and her alone, and who also seems to thrive on making other people's lives difficult. But Jaclyn also gets to deal with other, more agreeable bride's and their families, and seeing these wedding go off without any problems is enough to make her happy.
Of course, when Jaclyn's mother somehow manages to book six weddings in five days, life becomes hectic enough that Jaclyn finds herself re-evaluating her own relationship status when she runs into Detective Eric Wilde at a random moment. Obviously there's an instant attraction, and after having a nice night of conversation with the possibilities of a relationship looming on the horizon, Jaclyn tells Eric to call her in about a week after her schedule calms down.
Except that neither of them really want to wait a week and end up in a night of steamy passion, again, with possibilities of continuing to see each other.
Then Carrie Edwards is killed and Jaclyn has become the main suspect of the murder. Needless to say, this kind of puts a hitch in the possible relationship between her and Eric since he's the one investigating the murder. But obviously, Jaclyn isn't the one who killed Carrie Edwards, no matter how difficult the bridezilla had been. And Jaclyn might have even seen the killer who did it, even if she didn't really pay attention to the person who walked into the reception hall after she left.
There was a lot of story going on in this little book that seemed more like tangential events; none of it really furthered our murder investigation or the romance, but most of it had to do with different weddings that Jaclyn and her mother are planning. The murder investigation itself comprised a third of the book while the romance was another third; the weddings were the last third, which, to be honest, is more than necessary for this book. I would have been a little more satisfied if we had balanced the romance and the murder investigation more, and left out some of the details of each of the other weddings. Because while the weddings were interesting to hear about, I'm not sure I needed a thorough run-down of all of them.
This book was enjoyable in the fact that the writing was excellent and the humor was evident. There's a running gag (and I love running gags) about our brave detective's quest to get a decent cup of coffee; said quest typically ends up in him apprehending a petty criminal in an unconventional way because he doesn't want to deal with paperwork if he pulls his service weapon. It's a humorous aside that I enjoyed very much.
There are also other running gags that weren't as enjoyable. Because I love running gags until they get overused to the point of tediousness. For instance, I liked that Eric monologues about the differences between real police work and flashy fiction police work on television. But the subject kept getting brought up over and over again that I wanted to tell him that "I know, and I get it!" Police work in real life isn't as flashy as CSI makes it seem.
On an aside, I know that forensic crime scene investigation is a lot more tedious and boring than television makes it seem because I had taken classes in college when I went for a Forensic Science degree. There is definitely a lot of paperwork and documentation and signing of things and chain of custody and just all sorts of paperwork.
Anyway, back to the book--just the fact that I enjoyed it for whatever reason is enough for me not to blow off this author and continue picking up other books by Howard.
But I'm not going to deny that there were a lot of little things here and there that DID make me a bit conflicted about my enjoyment:
Mainly: The romance seemed a bit insta-love-y.
- I mean, sure they started off as a one-night-stand due to attraction. And even after that, they weren't really all "I love you" and such, what with the murder investigation.
- In fact, the first tossing of the word "love" around didn't come until pretty late in the story.
- But nothing leading up to that first "I love you" had really suggested much in the sense of two people falling in love outside of superficial or idealistic reasons.
- They had sex (steamy sex, at that), then they were at odds with each other because of the murder investigation, and Jaclyn spends more time than not pushing Eric away or getting angry with him. And Eric spends his time trying to push Jaclyn's buttons because it supposedly turns him on.
- It just didn't seem like a very good lead-in to "I love you," nor does it feel like a good basis for a stable, loving relationship either.
Along with the insta-love-y romance, the relationship between Jaclyn and Eric was just hard to grasp, actually.
- For one, I get that Jaclyn was upset about being named a suspect and believed that Eric should have trusted her. But Eric was doing his job as objectively as he could to help her with hopes that no prosecutor can throw his investigation back in his face. Jaclyn constantly bringing up the point and remaining so irrationally angry was a bit immature.
- However, I couldn't help but notice that Eric was harassing Jaclyn a lot, which might have contributed to her continued upset. Because if he knew for a fact that Jaclyn wasn't the killer, there was no need to randomly show up at her place of work to intimidate her into answering any questions he had. His presence could have really put a dent in Jaclyn's reputation as a wedding planner, because even in present day, being connected to a murder could be disastrous for publicity. It was upsetting that he didn't recognize that and got angry whenever Jaclyn asked him to leave her alone. I don't see why he couldn't have just called her and left a polite, professional message asking her to answer a few questions.
One other thing that bugged me was Jaclyn's elitist ideals about wedding planning:
- The three main weddings that she is responsible for putting together all get their little judgmental critique and nicknames: "The Pink Wedding", "The Hee Haw Wedding", etc...
- I'm of the impression that the wedding day is the bride's and the groom's day, so if they want particular details or things in their wedding, that's their choice. And who doesn't want a unique wedding ceremony and reception, anyway?
- If any of the weddings deviated from Jaclyn's ideal of the perfect, traditional wedding, she seems to have panic attacks about it.
- So what if one bride wants her wedding theme to be all pink? So what if the couple doesn't mind people wearing casual dress (jeans) to their wedding? So what if the ring-bearer is allowed to wear a football helmet? All of that brings life and interest into an otherwise boring, traditional wedding that is just like everyone else's.
- And I don't see how it's okay for her to judge the people and how long she believes their marriage will last based on the details of their wedding. Just because some couples choose certain details for their wedding doesn't make their ideas wrong.
Aside from the above points, there really weren't other things that bothered me too much. There might have been a loose end here and there, and the murder investigation kind of got solved out-of-the-blue without some concrete evidence to back it up. But I'm content with the book, as far as I'm concerned.
2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge
• Reading Assignment Challenge
• COYER Summer Vacation 2016 -- Bingo Board One | Square O12 -- Romance