Monday, January 27, 2014

Early Review of Texas Hold 'Em (Hotter In Texas #3) by Christie Craig

    Title: Texas Hold 'Em (Hotter in Texas)
    Series: Hotter in Texas (Book 3)
    Classification: Adult Fiction
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Format: Paperback; 480 pages
    Publisher: Forever (January 28, 2014)
    ISBN-10: 0446582824
    ISBN-13: 978-0446582827 
    Author's Website:
    Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher. 

    For the past several years Austin Brook has been counting down the days until he could finally catch the man who had framed him and his partners for murder. Cops at the time, they'd been convicted and spent eighteen months in prison before evidence had surfaced which proved someone else had pulled the trigger. Still some believe they'd gotten away with murder, and Austin wants there to be no doubt of their innocence. The wrongful conviction had cost Austin and his friends their jobs, the respect and confidence of their fellow cops, and eighteen months of their lives which they'd never get back. As Rafael DeLuna, the man who'd orchestrated the frame up, knew each of their faces, the group had hired Roberto, a professional informant, to dig up dirt on the man. With no solid leads in the past six months, however, Austin has lost his patience and has decided to do a little investigating on his own. He's convinced DeLuna's half sister, Leah Reece, holds the key to finding the man. His sights are set, and he's prepared to do whatever is necessary to take DeLuna down. Turning on the charm for the man's sister and seducing the information out of her is the least he can do. After all, what could be easier? 

This was another great book in the Hotter In Texas series. Ms. Craig has a way of taking a serious plot and embedding it with humor, romance and handsome hunks creating a delightfully heady combination. Once again the boys of the Only in Texas PI agency are on a case. This one, however, is a little more personal in nature--finding enough dirt on Rafael DeLuna, the man who sent them to prison for a crime they didn't commit, to lock him away and leave no doubt as to who truly committed the murders for which they'd been accused. 

Leah Reece is a specialty veterinarian whose area of expertise is felines. Austin Brook, ironically, suffers from ailurophobia, a fear of cats. Posing as a neighbor, Austin will need to pretend to like cats to get into Leah's good graces as she is the proud owner of three. As one can imagine, this makes for some very fun moments. Additionally, Leah is still suffering the ill effects of a marriage gone wrong and has sworn off men. Austin will have his work cut out to get through Leah's defenses.

Austin is a determined individual with a lot of baggage in his past. He's looking for nothing more than the information that Leah can provide him. Leah, however, is nothing like what he'd imagined and he soon realizes she wishes to have no ties with the estranged half brother she despises. As things unfold the two start to grow close and Leah begins to trust him. While he'd been intent on seducing her, he soon finds himself starting to fall for her. The one thing that could get in his way are the lies he's woven to situate himself into her life.

Why is the book titled Texas Hold 'Em? Well, truth be told, I'm not entirely sure, but as I was reading the book, the lyrics to The Gambler, a song sung by Kenny Rogers, was dancing in my head. The lyrics, 
"You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run?"
seem  appropriate for this story. When hunting down a killer all those things are equally important so you don't end up getting yourself killed. Team that up with the fact the series takes place in Texas, and I think you get an idea of how the title may have come about.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I felt the story was well thought out, contained a nice combination of drama, humor and action while maintaining a fast pace. Plus, Ms. Craig added an equally delightful secondary romance between Roberto and Sara, Leah's veterinarian assistant and good friend.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one got a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. A highly entertaining read that I'd definitely recommend.

Order of the series:

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