One book I did want to mention and suggest to everyone is Open Season by Linda Howard. I really do love most of her books. This was classic Howard with a strong alpha hero, a quirky heroine, and steamy chemistry. Don't forget the mysterious bad guy lurking in the background causing trouble. The thing I love about this book is that it is an ugly duckling book. Better yet, the hero already found her attractive pre-transformation. For any of you who (like me) were late bloomers, this is a must read. I love that Daisy starts out as the stereotypical small town librarian and, despite a rather drastic transformation, still remains that geeky gal at heart. As you read and experience the changes she is making, you really want to cheer her on. Daisy finds herself in a rut and does what few people have the courage to do: she steps completely outside her comfort zone and makes solid changes. The external changes happen quickly, but the internal ones happen a bit slower and more naturally. I appreciated this. It made the character more real.
Jack is tough and strong and hot. I love that Daisy is at first adverse to him because he is so attractive. He has left behind a high stress job on a task force in Chicago to become the Chief of Police in a little Southern town. He is protective of the sweet awkward town librarian. When she suddenly breaks out of her shell he finds himself having to protect others from her (oh lord, the scene in the bar when the guy pulls her on him lap!) Jack's confident, charismatic personality strikes sparks off of Daisy's practical, small town sensibilities. Oooh boy, those sparks are hot. In typical Linda Howard fashion there are moments of intense passion and other moments that are painfully funny. If you have read this book then you know exactly what I mean when I say "party pack."
Seriously, go read this book. If you like Ms. Howard's style, but are not a fan of the serial killer plot (Nicola, I am looking at you!) this is a good one for you. There is crime, but not the "inside the crazy killer's head" passages. I give this some big thumbs up, lots of stars, a decadent chocolate truffle, or whatever rating system you all like. It's simply good reading.