The latest in the Hotter in Texas series started slowly and I had trouble getting into it. Fortunately this is one case in which the book became stronger and more engaging as it progressed.
Veterinarian Leah Reece leads a quiet life and wants to keep it that way. She has an older half-brother who is bad news all around and a younger brother whom she is trying to protect from the older one. But Rafael is determined to pull them both into his violent world of gangs and illegal drugs.
Former police detective Austin Brook has a major bone to pick with Rafael, the man who framed him for murder. Cleared of charges and out of prison, Austin and his fellow private investigators will do anything to take down Rafael, including getting closer to Leah. Austin rents the apartment across from Leah and begins to earn her trust. But he doesn’t count on genuinely liking the cute vet who adores cats. With the menacing Rafael and his gang drawing closer, Austin finds that he needs to protect Leah from her own family members.
The story began slowly for me and I had a difficult time getting into it. But once it hit its stride it was a fast, fun read much like Jennifer Crusie’s work. The hero and heroine banter and bicker but never do so in a mean-spirited way. Austin’s phobia of cats is hilarious and the scene with the apartment break-in had me howling with laughter, much to the chagrin of my own felines.
My sole serious issue occurs when Austin places listening devices in Leah’s apartment without her consent. This to me is such a serious invasion of privacy that I had trouble letting it go. I recently read another book in which the hero does something similar, the difference being that he did so for the protection of the heroine. Austin ostensibly places the devices solely to achieve his goal of locating Rafael. Leah of course finds out about the recordings. While she eventually forgives him, I appreciated that she does not make it easy for him and he must grovel to earn back her affection.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Austin and Leah’s story and the secondary romance between Leah’s assistant and Austin’s coworker was the perfect icing on the cake. This book is part of a series but works fine as a standalone.