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Friday, August 24, 2012

Son of a Gun!

by Anna Campbell

Hey, today's my birthday! Just thought I'd share that enormously exciting fact - and also let you know that I'm open to offers of cake and champagne (and cash - cash is ALWAYS welcome!).

So having made that totally gratuitous announcement, let's get down to the nitty gritty about today's Second Helping book. SON OF THE MORNING by Linda Howard is such an unusual romance novel!

For a start, it treads some of the same territory (and for this reader in a much more interesting way) as THE DA VINCI CODE. You know, Templars and treasures and ancient conspiracies and people racing against time to save the world. Whoo-eeeee! This is a fabulous adventure story. Not to mention romantic suspense, time travel, historical and paranormal. Lots of genres to keep you interested in this one!

When I first read this book (it was published in 1997 when I'd developed a real obsession with Linda Howard's books), it blew me away. I re-read it for this review and it still packs a mega punch. And the last 100 or so pages will leave you absolutely breathless as it races to a very satisfying conclusion.

Ancient language specialist Grace St. John's life explodes into tragedy and danger one night when unknown gunmen murder her husband and brother and leave evidence that Grace was responsible. Only a stroke of good luck saves Grace from being inside the house and among the dead. Instead she's standing outside and sees everything, including who's responsible for the crime, her billionaire employer Parrish Sawyer.

Grace immediately goes on the run, desperate to discover why she's been targeted and why the documents she's working on are important. Grace is a really interesting character (which is a good thing because most of the story is centered on her). She starts off as a gentle, scholarly woman deeply in love with her husband and fascinated by her work translating ancient manuscripts for a scholarly foundation. When she stumbles across a manuscript that contains mysterious snippets of information about the Holy Grail, the medieval order of the Knights Templar in the 14th century, and a compelling historical character called the Guardian, she doesn't realize that she's trespassed upon the foundation's evil purpose to steal the Templars' power and rule the world.

This bit could have been silly but Linda Howard manages to make us believe in Grace's transformation from sweet innocent to hardened renegade. Mostly because we believe in Grace's smarts. She mightn't be street-wise but she's clever and frightened enough to learn how to survive below the radar. All the time, Parrish's men pursue her relentlessly. There are some seriously suspenseful scenes as they edge closer and closer to Grace.

Heartbroken over her husband's death - I really liked that Grace genuinely loved her first husband - the strange other-worldly connection she established with a 14th century Scotsman makes her feel like she's betraying Ford's memory. But her dreams and visions of the man who turns out to be Black Niall, guardian of the Templar treasure, help her survive the tragedy and torments of her current life. Some of these dream scenes are extremely steamy which is a good thing. You've probably gathered by now that the hero and heroine of SON OF THE MORNING don't meet in bodily form until well into the book when Grace time travels back to Niall's era. I told you this was an unusual romance!

When they finally meet, wow, the love scenes are absolutely explosive (no jokes, please, LOL!).

Niall is a compelling hero, ahead of his time but not beyond the realms of what's believable. And who doesn't love a dark, tortured, sexy Scotsman who can wield a claymore and everything else with breathtaking skill? Snicker.

SON OF THE MORNING kept me glued to its pages from beginning to end. It's a genuine rollercoaster ride of action and emotion. I loved the way Grace becomes a different woman through bitter experience, capable of falling in love with the sort of man who has never crossed her path before. At the start of the book, Grace and Niall are no match for each other. By the end, they're perfect equals. The story is exciting, passionate and romantic with all of Linda Howard's trademark sizzling sensuality (even if some of that takes place in dream scenes, which works!).

Highly recommended.


So do you have a favorite Linda Howard romance? Do you have a favorite Scottish hero? Do you think you'd survive on the run from baddies with limitless resources?

56 comments:

  1. Hi Anna -

    I have to be honest and admit that I haven't read any of Linda's books yet but I've been looking for one that I could get my husband to to read and Son of the Morning sounds like the perfect book.

    He is a Master Stone Mason but he also a Knights Templar. When he took a trip to Scotland I had taken him several places where I had learned about that the Templars were mentioned to have been and he actually was fascinated from what I had leanred by reading Hisorical Romance. After I tried again but couldn't convince him he would really enjoy reading "my kind of book".

    He served in the Navy during Vietnam and after joined the Navy Reserves (he was a week-end warrior). He actually made several trips to Israel with his sqadron and was able to visit several sites where the Templars had been.

    Thanks for letting me know about Linda's book and even if I still can't get him to read it I'm looking forward to reading it myself!

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    1. Jeanne, your husband sounds like a fascinating man. I loved this book and there's a lot of adventure to keep the most macho guy interested. Definitely try and get him to give it a go.

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    2. Jeanne, I agree with Anna. Your husband sounds fascinating! Hope you can talk him into giving this one a try.

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  2. Happy Birthday, Anna. I'll send Sven to deliver my gift of cake and rose champagne. Some of my favorite Linda Howard books include "Cry No More" and "Dying to Please."

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    1. Jane, I don't think I've read Dying to Please. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Cry no More and I reviewed it here. It's such a heart-wrenching story but it stays in your memory long after you finish. Thanks for the happy birthday - Sven is dodging me!

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    2. I haven't read CRY NO MORE yet. I have to be in the right frame of mind for heartwrenchers.

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    3. PJ, Cry No More is heartwrenching but it's one of the best romances I've ever read - definitely worth risking the emotional storm!

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  3. I've read all of Linda Howard's books except her last two. Son of the Morning was a departure from her romantic suspense books, but I really enjoyed it. Open Season was one of my favorites as was After the Night.

    Happy Birthday! (Check your post in a couple of weeks.)

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  4. Ooh, post goodies? I love them! Thanks, Jen. I haven't read a lot of Linda's recent stuff although I've got one on my TBR pile waiting for me. I'm in awe of the classic romances she wrote in the 90s - I loved the romance in Open Season and in Mr. Perfect and there are the wonderful suspense stories of Kill and Tell and All the Queen's Men. I always wanted a story for the bad guy in ATQM. He was a really interesting character.

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  5. Happy Birthday, Anna!

    Haven't red much of Linda Howard, Duncan's Bride is one I remember years ago. I do have Son of the Morning to read now as one of my friends raved about it and told me I must read it, and also Mr. Perfect in the TBR somewhere recommended by another friend.

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  6. Hi Pam! Thanks for the birthday wishes. Definitely give the two Linda Howards a go. I remember reading Duncan's Bride ages ago - not really my cup of tea at the time, wonder if it would be more my thing now. Sometimes it's timing, isn't it? A friend of mine lent me Loving Evangeline a while ago and I loved that. I think that's the prequel to Duncan's Bride, isn't it?

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  7. No champagne, cake or cash but lots of warm wishes for a happy birthday! I haven't read anything by Linda Howard but I do love me some Scotsmen. Would I survive living on the run from bad guys, probably not, I am old and fat and not in the best of shapes so I wouldn't get far but I wouldn't go down without some kind of fight.

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    1. Dianna, I have doubts whether I'd survive being chased by bad guys either. I can't run out of sight in a week! I think I'd make a lot of noise as they killed me, though! Thanks for the happy birthday wishes!

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    2. I'm with you, Dianna. The spirit might be willing but the knees, hips and feet not so much! lol!

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  8. Happy Birthday, Anna! Hope you've had a fabulous celebration! Did you do anything special?

    I haven't read SON OF THE MORNING in years. Your review brought back all the reasons I loved it so much. I think it might be time to revisit. ;-)

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    1. PJ, it was SOOO interesting to go back to it. Some of the stuff obviously has dated as the mystery relies quite strongly on technology but it's still a darn good story. I'm actually saving my birthday celebrations for next week when I'm down in the local capital city going to the ballet and hitting a VERY nice French restaurant called Montrachet. Can't wait! I wish one year I'd have a birthday when I wasn't on deadline!

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    2. The ballet and a French restaurant? How lovely! Can't wait to hear all about it!

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    3. I'm sure you will! The restaurant is so posh, it doesn't even open on the weekend!

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  9. Happy Bday.
    Linda is great. Favorites - Sarah's Child - such a gutwrenching ending. Re-read it a few times and rarely re-read. Also Mackenzie's Mountain I love.

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    1. Pat, Maria on Facebook recommended Mackenzie's Mountain - there's a whole series, apparently. I haven't read them or Sarah's Child. Must check them out. Thanks for the happy birthday!

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  10. happy birthday!!!

    oh.. i love the old books from linda howard. mr perfect, now you see her, open season, dream man, son of the morning, heartbreaker.. i just love those books.

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    1. Sienny, I love them too. I've re-read a lot of them but for some reason I'd only read this one when I first bought it. Wonderful to revisit it. So glad you're another LH fan! Thanks for the HB wishes!

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    2. i think i'm gonna bring out my LH books out and re-read them.

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    3. Sienny, I'm gradually re-reading all mine too. Have fun!

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  11. Hope you have a fantastic birthday Anna! Eat lots of cake and ice cream!!

    My favorite book of Linda's is White Lies. It's written in diary format. Very unique! Her husband?( check out the eye color) is comatose. You aren't sure who are the good guys or the bad guys. The escape and chase sequences are so exciting!

    Other stories agree with Dream Man and Sarah's Child. I also liked Bluebird Morning.

    I have not read Son of the Morning.

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    1. Laurie, thanks for the birthday wishes! I think I can say I followed your instructions! ;-)

      I haven't read either Bluebird Morning or White Lies. Must check them both out. Seriously, get SOTM. You'll love it!

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    2. Okay, I am definitely checking out WHITE LIES. Thanks, Laurie!

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  12. Happy birthday, Anna!!! Sending sparkling rose wine and chocolate eclairs your way :) Have a fabulous day!

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    1. Eclairs! What I wouldn't give for a good pastry shop where I live. No, on second thought, it's probably better that I don't have access to one. Chocolate eclairs and I would become much too friendly! :)

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    2. PJ, I LOVE chocolate eclairs. Thank goodness, I don't have a good eclair bakery nearby. Sadly in Sydney I did - really don't need to eat a lot of chocolate eclairs!

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  13. Happy Birthday, Anna! Son Of The Morning is one of my absolute favorite books. I have read it several times. I agree with everything you said. I hope you enjoy a wonderful birthday!

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    1. Thanks, Tawania! So glad you're another fan. I loved revisiting this. I'd forgotten a lot of it and it was wonderful to refresh my memory of what a great story this is.

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    2. Tawania, thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Happy birthday to you...happy birthday to you...happy birthday, Dear Anna...happy birthday to you! And many more...

    Anna, I've not read a Linda Howard book, can you believe it?? Your review makes me want to fix that. Honestly? I'd hate to have to rely on limited resources, but would do my best.

    Scottish hero...does Gerard Butler count? ;-)

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    1. Andrea, thanks for that lovely song. Seriously, have you thought of going on the stage? OK, OK, I'm burning to make the last stage out of town joke but as I'm mature and wise now, I'll refrain. Snort!

      Really, no LH? Seriously give her a go. I think particularly those books she wrote in the 90s are an amazing body of work. So glad I'm getting to introduce you to a stack of fab authors. By the way, hope one day you get to try Daisy Dalrymple! Darn international publishing agreements!

      I think we can definitely count GB!

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  15. Happy Birthday, Anna! I hope you have a joyous day.

    I read Son of Morning ages ago and haven't reread it. My favorite Linda Howard books are really oldies--the Mackenzie series and White Lies, all of which I've reread many times. Cry No More was brilliantly written, but it's not a book I ever want to reread. I know it's almost heretical to say so, but I did not like Mr. Perfect. It made me cautious of the LH books I've read since. Killing off a character with whom I have become engaged is a deal breaker for me. I stopped reading Elizabeth George for the same reason, and I paid hardback prices for her books before our breakup. :) I'm not one of those fans ranting "She had no right to do that" in either case. I do believe in authorial autonomy in creating the story, but I also believe in the reader's autonomy to choose to read--or not.

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    1. Thanks, Janga. It was lovely!

      Interesting about the Elizabeth George. I had a craze on her a while ago but needed a break. They're very intense and I found they were just getting longer and longer too. Will probably go back. Mr. Perfect isn't my fave Linda Howard although I think the romance in that one is beautifully done - she does textbook sexual tension which is something I really admire in her writing. I haven't read those early LHs. I only discovered her with the single titles in the 90s.

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  16. Wow, this sounds like a great book. I had actually not heard of it before. I do have an important question for you...does it have a HEA ending? A HEA is a must for me!

    Happy, Happy Birthday, Anna!!!

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    1. Absolutely a HEA, Cheryl! I want one of those too. Give SOTM a go. I think you'll like it. Thanks for the HB!

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  17. Happy Birthday!
    I'm a huge fan of Linda Howard's books. One of my favorites by her is Pursuit. Sleepwalker and Cover of Night were great too. I haven't read Son of the Morning yet but am planning too.

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    1. Na, I don't think I've read those three although Cover of Night rings a bell. Definitely pick up Son of the Morning. It's the sort of book that you just can't put down. Thanks for the HB wishes!

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  18. Hope you have a wonderful birthday, Anna!

    I enjoy variety and just love mixed genres, especially when historical is one of them. This sounds fantastic. There is no way I could pick a favorite - I enjoy her books and as to one Scottish hero - that would be like picking my favorite child out of many, many children lol. And I'd never survive, that's why I read!

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    1. Catslady, aren't we lucky that we have such a banquet of books (and heroes!) to choose from. I think you'd really like this. She's a marvelous writer and the two main characters are fabulous. Thanks for the HB wishes!

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  19. Oh, Son of the Morning sounds wonderful! Up to now, my favorite Linda book is called Death Angel, another slightly paranormal novel with oodles of angst, tension, and bad guys.

    Susan in AZ

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    1. Susan, Death Angel is on my TBR list. I'm currently making a major effort to whittle it down before I buy anything more so I'll get to it soon. I won a trio of older LH suspenses that she wrote for Harlequin at the 2011 ARRA Conference in Sydney. I hadn't read her for a while before that and they reminded me of just how fantastic she is. I think she does that dance of people falling in love against their better judgement just beautifully!

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  20. Anna, thanks for another terrific Second Helping! Hope we all helped to make your birthday fun! :)

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    1. Thanks, PJ! Nice to have such a stimulating discussion about the book!

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  21. The Knights Templar and the 14th century Scotsman are what is drawing me to this book. I haven't read anything by Linda Howard but I will be giving this one a try. Thank you for the post and a very Happy Birthday to you! *<:)
    I have a party hat on for you.

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    1. Leah, your part hat is MOST becoming! Thank you for the birthday wishes! I have to say I had a bit of a been, there done that feeling when I read the Da Vinci Code, having already read this one. The love scenes are hotter in this one too. LOL!

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  22. Wow, this sounds like a book I will love. I did not discover Linda Howard until just a few years ago. I have several of her books buried in my TBR mountain. I know I have read a couple of her books, but am not sure which ones. SARAH'S CHILD sounds vaguely familiar so that may have been the first one I read. I prefer suspense or historical and will have to check to see where I put her books.

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  23. Pat, this one has a bit of history and a bit of suspense. Sounds like right up your alley! Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for swinging by!

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  24. Buon Compleanno
    Feliz Cumpleaños
    Bon Anniversaire,
    יום הולדת שמח!
    And
    Happy Birthday!

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  25. Wow, what a great discusion - and I got some recommendations out of it too! Thanks so much, everyone, for swinging by. It's been great fun. Come back next month - I'm doing a roundup of some Harlequins I've read and loved recently.

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