Overload, by Linda Howard

>> Thursday, September 05, 2002

I feel like reading something short and uncomplicated now, and I think I have the perfect Linda Howard story: Overload. It comes in a 2-in-1 book with a Merline Lovelace story.

Blurb:

Elizabeth Major couldn't believe it when a blackout had her spending a sultry summer night in an elevator with Tom Quinlan, the man she'd once loved with all her heart - the lover, she quickly discovered, who could still make her lose control...
Posted later...

I've just finished Overload and it was a really good short story. There was a discussion a while ago in a Yahoo! Group I belong to (either canwetalk or aarlist, I can't remember which) about romance short stories. The conclusion seemed to be that most romance authors didn't know how to write one. They tried to squeeze a regular novel into less pages, so this meant the story felt rushed, a bit like the skeleton of a novel. I think there are a few plotlines which are perfect for a short story format (in romance, of course. I've read plenty of regular fiction short stories which are works of art). One of them is "friends falling in love" and the other is "reunion": people who've already had a relationship but broke up for some reason. Overload has this last plot. The H/h already know and love each other, so there's no need to rush through all stages of the courtship, only solve the problem which was keeping them apart. Therefore, the story doesn't feel rushed. The trick is showing in those few pages that the H/h do love each other, not just tell the reader that they do.

In this case, Linda Howard succeeded in doing so. I really saw Tom and Elizabeth as a couple, and when the story finished I really felt the problem which had been keeping them apart was solved. The setup was great fun, being marooned in a deserted building (not elevator, as the blurb implies) sounds like a nice, safe adventure, just as LH says in her intro. Love scenes took up a bit too much space, but they were LH scenes, so I wasn't too bothered by it. There were a little plot hole, however: I didn't buy Tom would leave Elizabeth alone for 6 months, not trying to force a confrontation. He was going to do so that afternoon, but he didn't seem like the type of guy who'd wait so long (too much of a hyper-alpha male).

A grade of B+.

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