Title: LOVING EVANGELINE
Series: Patterson-Cannon Family, Book 2
Author: Linda Howard
Narrator: Lesa Lockford
Format: Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs and 47 mins
Published: Dreamscape Media, LLC (1-19-16)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Source: Audiobook Jukebox
Rating: 3 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Evangeline Shaw is the key to the conspiracy that threatens Robert Cannon's company. Classified software developed by Cannon's group is being sold to a foreign government without his approval. It isn't just theft or a case of corporate espionage -- it's treason. And the trail leads straight to Shaw -- who by all accounts has both the means and the motives.
Determined to handle his own investigation, Cannon tracks her to a small town in Alabama. But as he tries to untangle the knot that surrounds her, he finds himself questioning he's believed. The facts still seem pretty black-and-but his heart tells him she's no Mata Hari....
“She didn't want to handle him. She didn't want anything to do with him - this man with his cold, intense eyes and clipped speech, this stranger, this Yankee. He made her feel like a rabbit facing a cobra: terrified, but fascinated at the same time. He tried to hide his ruthlessness behind smooth, cosmopolitan manners, but Evie had no doubts about the real nature of the man.
He wanted her. He intended to have her. And he wouldn't care if he destroyed her in the taking.”
LOVING EVANGELINE by Linda Howard left me with mixed feelings. This was the story of Evie Shaw and Robert Cannon. The book first released in print in 1994 and there are time-period differences that readers should allow for - most notably in the area of male/female relationships. If you cannot overlook those, this book may not be for you.
As the story opens, we become acquainted with Robert. He's a hard-nosed wealthy businessman. His computer software firm has several sensitive contracts with our government. He has been apprised of a security issue with an employee selling sensitive software secrets to a foreign entity and Robert is determined to find the culprits and bring them to justice. He has narrowed the espionage down to creepy Landon Mercer, who manages his Alabama location, and Evie Shaw, who appears to be working in collusion with Landon. Evie owns Shaw's Marine where Landon rents boats supposedly to fish. When Robert shows up at Evie's marina to rent a boat and size up Evie, he is inexplicably drawn to her and decides he must have her while he underhandedly makes her life miserable. So begins the seduction of Evie and my love/hate relationship with Robert.
Robert was super sweet to the heroine's face and their encounters were hot, hot, hot! But, behind the scenes for most of the book, he was a cold, stony-hearted, ruthless, uncaring, selfish, manipulative and callous character. I was beyond appalled at the way he behaved and there were times I was so horrified by the cruel game he was playing with the heroine - almost driving her to financial ruin - that I considered walking away from the story. But I did not, and I'm glad that I continued with it as Robert does make huge inroads at redeeming himself at the end.
On the other hand, I really liked the heroine. She's an independent spirit, a hard-worker who has pulled herself up by her bootstraps, never asking for a handout. Through-out she's the epitome of grace and resilience not letting what she thought was fate - but was actually Robert putting the screws to her - beat her down.
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from this listen:
“I’m really not hungry,” she repeated, lifting the coffee cup and inhaling the fragrant steam before sipping.
“Just a few bites,” he cajoled, taking his own place beside her. “You need to keep up your strength for tonight.”
She gave him a heated, slumberous look, remembering her fantasy. “Why? Are you planning something special?”
“I suppose I am,” he said consideringly. “It’s special every time we make love.”
“Do you want me?" she whispered, licking him again. She felt very warm, and slightly drunk with her feminine power. Desire was unfurling inside her, opening like a flower. Her breasts throbbed, and she rubbed them against his leg.
He gave a strangled laugh, almost undone by her natural sensuality. "Look a few inches to your right and tell me what you think.”
“I don't have casual sex," she said.
He almost smiled. It was merely an expression in those pale eyes, rather than an actual movement of his mouth. "My dear, I promise you there wouldn't be anything casual about it.”
I listened to the audio edition. This book was just released in audio in early 2016. Lesa Lockford is the narrator and she delivers a solid performance with a clear, pleasing voice. Both her female and male characters seemed genuine. Her delivery was spot on. It really made me feel the overall tone of the story and the emotions of the characters. This is the second time I've listened to Lesa and I plan to check out more books that she's performed soon.
This was not my favorite Linda Howard book, but I'm glad I listened to it. I loved the small-town setting in Alabama, the heroine, the suspense and the sensuality interwoven into the story. The story was captivating and had plenty of thrilling moments. I ate up the sexy scenes. I just wish the hero hadn't been such a galling, autocratic cad for most of the book and that he'd not gotten off as easy as he did at the end. Still, I found the ending satisfying.
Suggested Reading Order:
Duncan's Bride (Book #1)
Loving Evangeline (Book #2)