Joint Review: Troublemaker by Linda Howard

Lou: I needed to pinch myself reading Troublemaker. A romance. A Linda Howard effing romance in the flesh. *dies and then comes back to life*

Troublemaker is a small-town romance that gave humour and a lovely romance between two classic Linda Howard characters. Morgan Yancy is an operative with a mark on his head. After being savagely shot in the chest by an unknown (and now dead) assailant, Morgan arrives at Bo’s hometown with the help of Bo’s former stepbrother, Axel, Morgan’s boss and resident asshole. I can’t say Troublemaker is a suspense. It’s a smalltown romance with the suspense tacked onto the end. I loved the humour and the characters, but it was too slow for me at times, especially in the second half.

Has: It’s been a few years since Linda Howard has released a book, but I was excited to hear that she would be releasing a couple of books this year. Troublemaker is a return of the old skool magic of Linda Howard. I love the fact the focus of the story is a romance that is set in a smalltown setting with grumpy hero and a heroine who has a diva for her pet dog. Even though the suspense was very light, I thought the romance was a classic Howard book.

I do agree with you about the pacing at times. It felt slow, but I thought it fit perfectly with the tone of the setting of the smalltown and it gave space and time for both Bo and Morgan to warm up to each other and fall in love. I also loved the humour and the drama surrounding the town-people. It made me chuckle out loud.

Lou: She’s releasing more than one this year? *dies again* While I found the book slow at times, I’m so happy and excited she’s writing romance again. Tricks the dog was adorable. She literally was the third in the relationship and while at times I felt there was too much of Tricks, I’m a sucker for a Howard alpha hero going all mushy and soft over a pup.

I really enjoyed the first half, with a very weakened Morgan being looked after by no-nonsense Bo. The buildup and tension wasn’t as electric as previous Howard novels, but Morgan is deadly and dangerous and Bo soon learns how much he toned down his behaviour for her so she wouldn’t be frightened. Because even with open-heart surgery, Morgan was still powerful after all those years of exhaustive and deadly training.

Has: I agree about too much Tricks at times, but I thought she was a fantastic addition to the story and her diva antics added a lot of humour, as well as help bond Bo and Morgan together as a family. And the details and depth to the story also made them so vivid and real.

However, it was the romance that really stood out for me. Both Bo and Morgan are pretty wary with each other because her ex step-brother has basically dumped a stranger in her lap. But as the story unfolds slowly, their attraction heats up and the dialogue, and tension between them sparkles and I loved how their relationship evolved from strangers to lovers. And Morgan was a classic Howard hero, who is an alpha to the core, but also respected and gave Bo space and input into his investigation on who tried to kill him.

Lou: Tricks did kinda steal everyone’s hearts in the fictional world of Bo and Morgan. At times it felt a little too sugary for me (and you know how much I love dogs!) and I would have liked to have seen more development between Bo and Morgan that didn’t involve Tricks. It was a little jarring at times because I was fully expecting a romantic suspense and instead I was reading a smalltown romance with a very sweet dog. Bo’s role as Chief of Police meant she became involved in a lot of smalltown issues, one that involves domestic violence and I liked how Howard portrayed the reaction afterwards, which is all too true where the victim is blamed. Morgan is forced to take a step-back with Bo in charge, but I don’t think he was the type to undermine Bo. He respected her and allowed her to do her job without being a know-it-all. Their romance did take a while to build up but it was realistic. I liked that when it finally came down to the sexy times, Morgan was a classic Howard hero who made no bones about what he wanted.

Has: I think this is why I really enjoyed the romance and story so much, even though the pacing may have been too slow at times. The characters and setting felt real and authentic. I liked that it took time for both Bo and Morgan to fall in love and the same time develop mutual respect for each other, especially with their jobs. But at the same time, it felt like a classic Linda Howard romance.

Overall, I really enjoyed Troublemaker and even though there were a few issues with the pacing and going into too much detail with certain things, I loved the romance and small town setting and even the suspense storyline was tied up perfectly. I thought this was a wonderful and sweet romance filled humour and authentic characters.

I give Troublemaker a solid B!

Lou: Troublemaker was a sweet and sexy romance that had sparks of a great Linda Howard romance. Bo and Morgan and Tricks make for one lovely family, and I hope Howard returns to this world and gives more stories about other members of Morgan’s unit. But while I liked the romance and hometown feel, I didn’t like the suspense, which was weak and too undeveloped with a slow pace in the second half. But it’s still Linda Howard and she’s a great writer despite the issues I had.

I give Troublemaker a C+

3 thoughts on “Joint Review: Troublemaker by Linda Howard”

  1. Nice review! I really enjoyed reading it, though I think you both liked this book better than I did. All the focus on the dog was a bit much for me.

  2. @Janine Ballard: Janine! Hi! Thank you. The review was supposed to posted ages ago but someone (me. doh) forgot to draft it.

    After I finished writing the review, I was thinking about the dog issue because it was too much at times. I came to the realisation my tolerence level was higher because Troublemaker was an actual Linda Howard romance–and because I still remember the last Howard book I read (Burn), which was awful. So the bar wasn’t super high lol.

  3. @Lou: I’ve heard that from another friend. I haven’t actually read one of her books since Death Angel, so I think I was coming from the opposite perspective — that the last Howard book I read was stronger than Troublemaker. That probably accounts for the difference in our reactions.

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